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MEET & GREET 2 - Working together for a more resilient and sustainable future for generations to come

MEET & GREET 2 - Working together for a more resilient and sustainable future for generations to come

WFWPI UN Vienna office, hosted its second Meet and Greet online meeting on 19 December 2023.

Due to attendance at various meetings and conferences, that encourage the presence of NGOs, WFWPI UN Vienna team got to know very ambitious representatives of different organizations. As there is always a strong emphasis on prevention and good practices to counter “Human Trafficking” (HT), “Smuggling of Migrants”, or any other kind of “International Organised Crime”, we thought it would be beneficial to connect the various initiatives with the local WFWP chapters.

A strong force behind this is Mrs. Merle Soquila Blaschke, who as a born Philippina has first-hand experience of migration, to overcome poverty, and at the same time often breaks the families apart!

This time the focus was on Africa: In African countries youth makes 75-80% of the population. A common concern is to keep young people away from drugs and crime, prevent being trafficked, ending up in abusive situations - modern type slavery, or prostitution.

Instead, young people should be given the chance to learn and be trained in a job according to each specific talents and abilities. This makes a prosperous future possible and helps a nation to develop!

Each one of the speakers underlined this effort:

Mr. Patrick ERLANDSON from Los Angeles, Founder and Director of “”, highlighted the great impact a father has for the healthy development of children, for boys and girls equally!

He created “FATHER -CON” - a platform for men to meet, share experiences and be educated about the impact they have on child development, intellectually and emotionally. Mr. Erlandson felt driven to take this initiative while working for UNHCR- in California, where he was confronted with the worst cases of Human Trafficking. He found out that the missing father is one of the root causes for vulnerability of girls and boys.

Mr. Gene Alcantara talked about "Human Trafficking of Filipinos in Europe”.  He covered some practical examples of so called modern type slavery that are not necessarily accepted by the authorities as such. E.g. the cases of truck drivers who are contractually employed in Eastern Europe but are made to work in West Europe.  Despite their clear exploitation and unacceptable working conditions, like having to live and sleep in their trucks, no resting hours, or time off, wages far below the legal minimum, etc, local authorities repeatedly dismissed their complaints.


The cases of ’Overseas Domestic Workers‘ are similar and hard to believe. Many are brought into servitude and abuse in the recipient countries with fraudulent contracts saying they would be paid the minimum wage applicable but despite clear evidence they remain in immigration limbo. 


The above cases clearly need to be brought to the authorities in a concerted way with recommendations for action.



Mr. Justus Mokaya, founder and executive director of EZEHSA -PLUS, an institute for

learning and job training in Nairobi /Kenya. His

desire is for young people to receive education, vocational training and to stay at their side until they find a job (job placement.) ”EZEHSHA-Plus” up to now has  helped hundreds of women and youth from disadvantaged circumstances.

Mr. Mutuku NGULI, Chief Executive for “Countering Human Trafficking Trust -East Africa: A subregional Christian Non-Governmental Organisation, registered in Nairobi, Kenya, rolling out into all the seven East African Member countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo)”. Its vision is a world free from the shackles of Human Exploitation and the prosecution of every woman or man who dares take up this evil task. Victims of HT are mainly women and children, being engaged in forced labour, domestic servitude, prostitution and begging. The

organisation conducts awareness-raising campaigns and educational programs are undertaken for youth, police, medical staff and others to warn about the dangers of HT. Sometimes the traffickers are even working through “Recruitment Companies”. They are successful as many hope to escape poverty, forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).


Ms. Joana ADESUWA REITERER, founder of JOADRE - Fashion and Film to foster positive social change is born Nigerian, but now living in Austria. Her special life story has brought her in close contact with Human Trafficking. She founded the organisation “EXIT” in Austria to help victims of HT. She made remarkable effort to raise awareness among the population and gained the support of Austrian police and government, to be able to help victims of HT - to leave their unbearable situation and make a restart in their lives, not having to be afraid to be sent home immediately. Later she decided to invest in prevention in the area she comes from: Telling the true story to young people and at the same time providing education, job training and coaching them until they make their way. JOADRE is a network of professionals supporting each other to become successful in their lives. Ms. Adesuva Reiterer is also author of two books.


Our dear colleague Risa SMART, President WFWP Nigeria introduced her amazing

program of microcredit: Even a small amount of money can help a woman to start or expand her businesses, so she can pay her bills, send the children to school, etc., gradually paying back what has been given to her, so the next person can receive the money. Up to now Ms. Smart has 130 people, who successfully benefited from this program! 


Ms. Merle Soquila thanked everyone for participation and encouraged ongoing interaction! She announced the continuations of such online talks.

The event was moderated by Ms. Kyung In van de ven Oliveira, our WFWPI UN Vienna youth representative. In her professional life she deals with minor-migrants, therefore to raise these topics is in her very own area of interest.


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