Seventeen religious leaders from different faiths agreed they’ll take action with their congregations to confront modern slavery, following an in-depth workshop with Free the Slaves and our Congolese partner organizations in Goma earlier this month.
The training session was designed to increase knowledge about slavery among local religious figures, and facilitate an interfaith discussion on practical steps that faith leaders can take to overcome slavery in one of the world’s worst trafficking hot spots.
The workshop emphasized that Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist leaders have been the backbone of the anti-slavery movement—in historical times when slavery was outlawed, and in modern times as activists work to eradicate the evil of slavery worldwide.
“Seeing that anti-slavery initiatives have existed across all faiths gives us a sense of solidarity,” one participant said. “This is inspiring to think that this unites us, rather than thinking about what separates us.”
Leaders identified many actions they can take—such as raising awareness with members of their congregations, providing direct pastoral care to slavery victims and survivors, and advocating for systemic change by using their influence with political and military authorities.
One participant noted how the workshop was empowering by focusing on resisting slavery at a community level.
“We sometimes live in a state of resignation thinking that all will come from outside, building dependence on others,” the participant said. “This community-based approach is important to help Congolese escape from this mental poverty in which we believe we cannot accomplish anything on our own, individually or as a society.”
Learn more about our program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on our Congo webpage, including new videos that show how we’re raising awareness in remote villages and helping slavery survivors restart their lives in freedom.
Learn more about people of faith who are fighting slavery on our Faith in Action webpage.