A psychologist from the Waterside will be travelling to Thessaloniki in Greece next month to work with the international charity A21.
Donna De Lasa specialises in dealing with people who have experienced sexual trauma, and will spend time on her trip with women who have been trafficked and forced into prostitution.
Speaking ahead of her trip she said, “I heard the founder of A21, Christine Caine, speak at a conference a number of years ago and I was shocked at the stories she told about women being trafficked.
“I couldn’t sleep for days afterwards. Christine told of women who had their passports removed from them, who were beaten, raped and generally treated as the property of their captors. Many women who have since escaped told of how they had up to 40 men a day forced upon them.”
These stories stayed with Donna as she finished her Doctorate in Clinical Psychological and had her first child Joel.
Now pregnant with her second baby she decided to try and help the charity before her due date.
She continued, “The charity has always been on mind, especially because of the work that I do, where I am interested in trauma and the consequences of trauma.”
Explaining about A21 Donna said, “Christine started A21 - the aim of which is to abolish injstice in the 21st century - after she spotted hundreds of posters of missing people around airports in Greece.
“Upon further investigation she soon realised that they had been trafficked, and as they were mainly women, forced into prostitution.
“The headquarters of the charity is in Thessaloniki and it’s from there that they carry out their work.
“This includes rescuing people who have been trafficked, providing shelter, building up their confidence and also using their lawyers to seek justice.
“I’ll be going there on an information finding trip and to experience the work they do everyday.”
But Donna’s trip will also include travelling on a route that is regularly used to traffic young women.
“That will be difficult, to travel on that route and not think of all those that have gone before me and ended up in captivity.”
She also stresses that those being trafficked are not in mainland Europe but here in Ireland.
“One Romanian woman travelled to London as part of her nursing training. She was targetted by some men who spotted that she might be vulnerable and ended up in Galway where she forced into prostitution. It was 96 days before she managed to escape.
“Trafficking happans to people from every walk of life and from every nation.
“As we speak 27 million people are enslaved around the globe. People believe slavery has been abolished but it’s never been bigger.
“Most people are duped by those close to them and the poor and vulnerable are definitely targetted, but never think it’s not happening on your doorstep.”
Finishing, Donna said, “We all have a responsibility for those who don’t have freedom.”