Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards: Sr Marie Claude Naddaff receives the Human Dignity Award

Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards: Sr Marie Claude Naddaff receives the Human Dignity Award

Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards: Sr Marie Claude Naddaff receives the Human Dignity Award

Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards: Sr Marie Claude Naddaff receives the Human Dignity Award

Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards: Sr Marie Claude Naddaff receives the Human Dignity Award

Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards: Sr Marie Claude Naddaff receives the Human Dignity Award

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By Liam Michael Quinn, Communications Manager

In acknowledgment of her lifetime achievement in addressing exploitation, Sr Marie Claude Naddaff, Province of Lebanon and Syria, received the Human Dignity Award at the Sisters’ Anti-Trafficking Awards (SATAs) held in Rome on May 23.

Sponsored by Arise, UISG, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the awards celebrate three sisters – as representatives of their congregations and networks – who have demonstrated exceptional courage, creativity, collaboration, and achievement in the protection of their communities from human trafficking (view pictures from the ceremony here).

Having won the 2010 International Women of Courage Award from the U.S. Department of State (pictured) for her steadfast dedication to ending the suffering of women and girls who are victims of domestic violence, sexual exploitation, and human trafficking, Sr Marie Claude has continued to be one of the Middle East region’s effective champions for at-risk women.

Yet during an interview with the Communications Office in advance of the awards ceremony, she still spoke of her surprise at being named for this award given that what she does “is my specific and natural mission as a sister of the Good Sheperd”.

Sr Marie Claude’s tireless commitment against human trafficking may come naturally to her, but it is a lifetime’s work that shone out to the SATAs Selection Committee.

Such is Sr Marie Claude’s zeal to promote the welfare of women and girls that she ran away from home in Tartus, Syria, at just 17 years of age to join Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd and dedicate her life to the mission.

When she became leader of the Good Shepherd community in Damascus in 1994, she began various services at the convent and fostered a partnership with the Syrian government to combat violence against women, homelessness, and trafficking.

In 1996, she established the “Oasis Shelter“: Syria’s first facility for trafficking and domestic violence survivors. Its success led to the creation of additional shelters, with full government cooperation.

Sr. Marie Claude also introduced Syria’s first women’s hotline, offering round-the-clock counseling, legal assistance, and temporary shelter.

In 2009, she won the right to have female victims of trafficking released to a shelter which resulted in more than 20 women trafficked for domestic work being released into the custody of a shelter – a pivotal shift in the government’s approach from viewing trafficking survivors as criminals to recognizing them as victims deserving of support.

In 2019, Sr Marie Claude was pivotal in establishing the Wells of Hope network in the Middle East, a network affiliated with Talitha Kum (watch a documentary on Wells of Hope here); since then she has served as the regional coordinator of the anti-trafficking network.

Before being presented with the Human Dignity Award, attendees at the ceremony were shown a video produced specifically for the event showcasing the work of Sr Marie Claude (watch the video and Sr Marie Claude receive her award below).

“Human dignity” says Sr. Marie Claude “is a primordial value for every person and the basis for all my personal relationships; for all the approaches of our teams working in the field”

As part of the award, Sr. Marie Claude has been awarded 20,000 USD to put towards the projects of her choice. She shared with the Communications Office how her priority for the money is to increase the possibility of our teams to raise awareness throughout the Middle East, especially among the most vulnerable, in the most marginalized neighborhoods where there is a high risk of trafficking”. In particular, she spoke about how she intends to use “part of this money to help women who have been victims of trafficking to access housing, ongoing human, social and psychological support, regularize their papers, and continue the fight at the regional and international level for the rehousing of people who are at risk”.

Our heartfelt congratulations go to Sr Marie Claude for her tireless work and commitment to the mission for which we are all deeply grateful.

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