Sisters Mary, Catherine, Margaret Anne and Isabelle stand on the shoulders of other MMMs who helped to counter human trafficking: Sisters Blandina Ryan and Maura O´Donohue.
Sister Blandina Ryan, working in Benin City, Nigeria was greatly preoccupied by the problem of young unemployed women being picked up and trafficked abroad for sex work. When our community in Nigeria reáflected on this problem, they felt the best form of prevention would be the creation of vocational training. It took a lot of planning and fundraising before the Mother Mary Martin Centre was eventually constructed on the outskirts of Benin City.
‘No matter how bitter it may sound,’ said Sister Blandina, ‘the truth is that a majority of the Nigerian young people are struggling to survive at all levels, including university graduates. A career in armed robbery or prostitution in Europe can have more appeal than the struggle to make an honest livelihood. However, we must do our best to offer young people the start they deserve and encourage them. That is why the Medical Missionaries of Mary embarked on the establishment of the Mother Mary Martin Vocational Centre. Our broad objective is to meet decent professional needs of the Ugbekun Community youth. That is our starting point.’
Sister Blandina is now retired in Ireland but the centre continues to educate young people and to alert them to the dangers of human trafficking.
Sister Maura O´Donohue (d. 2015) was a medical doctor who spent several years at grassroots level in hospitals and clinics in Nigeria, Spain and Ethiopia before going on to work with international organizations such as the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) in England and the Catholic Mission Board in New York. She had an extraordinary talent for identifying emerging needs, had great vision while at the same time had good administrative skills.
In 2003, Sister Maura returned to Ireland, where she did part-time consultancy work for CAFOD and was assigned by MMM to work on human trafficking issues. The latter was done in conjunction with Caritas Europe. She also worked with the Irish National Board for Safeguarding Children.