Lakshmi Paudel is a sixteen-year-old orphan in a village in western Nepal. She and her sister run their household, do farm chores, and look after their younger sib-lings. Orphans can be targets of human trafficking. “Employments agents” exploit young people’s natural desire to improve their lives and their curiosity to see the world, as well as their trust in adults. Traffickers then sell them into forced labor or unpaid prostitution. Caritas pays Lakshmi’s school fees so that she does not need to drop out of school. It is one of the photos in the exhibition. Photo by Katie Orlinsky/Caritas

Caritas staff members and colleagues from six continents were in Rome for Caritas Internationalis governance meetings this week. They also had time to  see a photo exhibit showcasing Caritas’ work to stop human trafficking and unsafe migration.

The exhibit, hosted at the residence of U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel Diaz and funded by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, featured images of young women in Nepal who are at risk of being trafficked.

The photographs, which were taken by Katie Orlinsky, showed rural and urban scenes of women in Nepal, one of Asia’s poorest countries.

Caritas members around the world work together to raise awareness of false job advertising and other tactics that traffickers use to lure women into unsafe situations.

Caritas Sri Lanka’s Fr George Sigamoney at the exhibition.

Nepali women often go abroad to work as housemaids and may be abused overseas. Teenage girls in Nepal are sometimes sold into prostitution in nearby India. With funding from Caritas Italy, Caritas Australia, Secours Catholique and other Caritas members, Caritas Nepal has saved women from false job leads.

Fr Silas Bogati, former head of Caritas Nepal, was present at the photo exhibit.

Using data from its members, Caritas Internationalis recently published a report, ‘the Female Face of Migration’, to highlight the problems that impoverished women face when they travel abroad to work.

Speaking at the event, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, President of Caritas Internationalis, thanked the U.S. Department of State and other groups for their diligent efforts to protect women at risk. “The young women we see in these photos deserve a life of dignity,” said Maradiaga. “They need someone to fight for them. That’s what you are doing.”

The exhibition will also be displayed on May 24th at a panel discussion “Building Bridges of Opportunity: Women and Migration” hosted by the US Embassy to the Holy See.

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