A Success Story: the Scalabrini International Migration Network (SIMN) and the Scalabrinian Center in Porto Alegre Rescue Two Potential Victims of Human Trafficking

Thanks to the coordinated work of the Scalabrinian networks, the young women Paloma and Araceli (pseudonyms) were able to return safely to Asunción, Paraguay, after being deceived by human traffickers who promised them job opportunities in Brazil. The case highlights the presence of human trafficking networks in South America but also the effectiveness of the networking of the different Scalabrinian entities and other ecclesiastical instances in defending potential victims.

New York, April 12, 2023.– In a coordinated effort between the Scalabrinian International Migration Network (SIMN) and the CIBAI Migracoes of Porto Alegre, Brazil, the young women Paloma and Araceli (pseudonyms), Paraguayans aged 20 and 19, respectively, were rescued from a network of traffickers and helped return safely to Asunción, Paraguay, last Friday (Good Friday).

This success story began with a phone call that the mother of one of them made to Father Jairo Guidini cs, Executive Director of SIMN, whom she knew for having led the Scalabrinian mission in Asunción a few years ago. She asked him for help to get the young girls to return to Paraguay from Sant’Ana do Livramento, a Brazilian city on the border with Uruguay.

She explained to Father Jairo that the young women had received an attractive job offer in Brazil. They accepted the offer and were taken to Sant’Ana do Livramento, even ignoring that they were in an irregular migratory situation. After a few days of work, the traffickers informed them that they had to provide sexual services to remain in the place where they were staying, which they refused. Given this, the traffickers tried to deprive them of their cell phones, but they managed to flee and went to the civil police.

When they were sent to the offices of the Federal Police, they received a provisional immigration permit. Upon informing their mother of what had happened and she communicating with Father Jairo, he came into contact with Father Heitor Di Domenico and Luciele Scapini, who works at the Scalabriniana mission in Porto Alegre, called Centro Ítalo-Brasileiro de Asistencia e Instrucao as Migracoes (CIBAI Migracoes) to explore how they could help them.

In this way, Paloma and Araceli were accompanied by a priest, a friend of Father Heitor’s, to be able to safely board the bus that would take them from Sant’Ana do Livramento to Porto Alegre precisely on Good Friday. Upon arriving in this city and meeting with Father Heitor, he gave them the bus tickets that would take them to Asunción, arriving on Glory Saturday night in their hometown. After 24 hours of travel, they happily met with their families.

This happy ending is not very common in stories of this type, as is well known. However, it highlights the effectiveness of networking, which, with God’s help, makes it possible to carry out coordinated and timely actions.