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September 21, 2008 / yolynne

Archdiocese, NGO unify efforts vs human trafficking

A repost taken from Sunstar Zamboanga

Saturday, September 13, 2008
Archdiocese, NGO unify efforts vs human trafficking
By Bong P. Garcia

THE Visayan Forum Foundation (VFF), Archdiocese of Zamboanga and the Microsoft Unlimited Potential have unified forces and launched Thursday the Stop Trafficking and Exploitation Unlimited Potential (Step-up) program in Zamboanga City.

The Step-up program is aimed at helping human trafficking victims alleviate their plight by giving them a free two-month computer literacy course, aimed to help them find new job.

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Archdiocese Romulo Valles has offered a space at the Centro Pastoral for the Step-up center where trafficked women and children, as well as potential victims of human trafficking aged 15 and above could learn basic computer skills.

Valles said offering them free computer literacy course is one way for the victims to stand up and look for a better job.

“We will try to help them so that they will at least uplift their dignity as a person,” said Fr. Adriano Ruiz Jr., head of the Archdiocese of Zamboanga Social Action Apostolate.

The VFF, a non-government organization (NGO) that is assisting victims of human trafficking noted that majority of the victims pass through Zamboanga City due to its accessibility to Malaysia.

A commercial ferry plies twice a week from Zamboanga City to Malaysia via Sandakan in the state of Sabah and vice-versa.

VFF Regional Coordinator Janet Francisco said that since February this year, they have already assisted 70 victims of human trafficking.

Some of the victims came from as far as Luzon areas while the rest are from the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

Mayor Celso Lobregat said the Step-up program will complement the local government’s plans and programs aimed at keeping people from falling prey to the evils of human trafficking.

Lobregat said that all efforts at educating people would go to waste unless “we provide them with opportunities.”

He said the program will provide beneficiaries opportunities for better lives.

He called on the public to help in the fight against human trafficking citing the City Government and the private sector cannot do everything.

“We need as much help in whatever form as we can get,” he said.

The highlight of the Step-up program launching was the ceremonial signing of the memorandum of agreement between the VFF and the Archdiocese of Zamboanga Social Action Apostolate, and the turnover of computer package.

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