Simulation educates campus on refugee children fleeing Central America

LOQation’s coverage of Father Bechina’s visit and insight on human trafficking

Imagine crossing borders, leaving behind loved ones, carrying no more than the clothes on your back and the memories of your past, because the gang violence was too unbearable.

68,541 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in the 2014 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2013-Oct. 1, 2014). More than 12,000 came from Honduras, quadruple the number of the previous year. Tens of thousands more were apprehended in Mexico before they got to the United States and sent back to their country of origin by Mexico.

These children are being sent back to dangerous conditions of drug and gang violence, rape or potential death.
On Feb. 5, the Catholic Relief Services Student Ambassadors presented an immigration simulation titled, #RefugeesSeekingSafety, as a part of the international day of prayer and awareness against Human Trafficking.

Each year, Catholic Relief Services provides help to hundreds of thousands of those who suffer through the refugee crisis that is causing them to flee Central America.

In this presentation, participants were able to experience first-hand the stories of unaccompanied minors that flee from Central America in hopes to start new lives that are better than the ones in which they lived before.

The members of the Communication Learning Community’s ECG class ran the simulation, alongside the CRS Ambassadors. The group previously performed this simulation at the “Lead for Change” event at Cabrini Day this past November and took home the first place prize of $100, which was then donated to Catholic Relief Services.

Those who walked through the simulation were put in the shoes of the young immigrants. They were given one of six identities, along with some money for their travels. They experienced gang members physically pushing them from street to street, some getting their money stolen and being left alone, with nothing. Some ended up being put on trial and they did not even given a translator.

“We chose to do a simulation because we wanted it to be interactive. It gave someone the opportunity to feel like they were making the journey from Central America,” freshman Anna Laquintano, member of the Communication Learning Community, said.

Those who are fleeing from Central America in hope of obtaining a better life are often those who are smuggled and becoming victims of human trafficking.

Rev. Friedrich Bechina, the undersecretary for the Congregation of Higher Education in the Vatican in Rome, was present on campus to observe the ways in which Cabrini practices its social justice mission and had the chance to go through the simulation. Human trafficking is an issue that is important to him.

“We see a lot of immigrants in Europe. I think there is a great responsibility on the more developed countries, because these things do not happen just occasionally,” Bechina said. “There are more reasons behind it. We have to be aware of what is going on and what our responsibilities are.”

Cabrini missioner Matt Kaehler speaks with the Rev. Friedrich Bechina, undersecretary for the Congregation of Higher Education in the Vatican and Dr. Michael Galligan-Stierle, executive director of the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities, at the Refugees Seeking Safety event on Feb. 5. (Jill Nawoyski / Asst. News Editor)

Cabrini missioner Matt Kaehler speaks with the Rev. Friedrich Bechina, undersecretary for the Congregation of Higher Education in the Vatican and Dr. Michael Galligan-Stierle, executive director of the Association of Catholic Colleges & Universities, at the Refugees Seeking Safety event on Feb. 5. (Jill Nawoyski / Asst. News Editor)

The #RefugeesSeekingSafety simulation opened the eyes of many and showed participants just how serious human trafficking is and why it is important to help.

“Human trafficking is important because there are so many people that come from El Salvador and Guatemala just trying to get to safety and have freedom. They have a rough journey trying to get there,” Chris Fonte, dressed as a gang member in the simulation, said. “It’s really important that people know what’s going on and how they can help these kids.”

Digital and social media majors Chris Fonte and Joe Finn portraying gang members during the #RefugeesSeekingSafety simulation. (Jill Nawoyski / Asst. News Editor)

Digital and social media majors Chris Fonte and Joe Finn portraying gang members during the #RefugeesSeekingSafety simulation. (Jill Nawoyski / Asst. News Editor)

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