A meeting of the European section of the Carmelite NGO took place in Aylesford, England, on May 2-3, 2009. The participants came from the Carmelite provinces of Great Britain, Ireland, Upper Germany, Spain and The Netherlands. Sr. Jane Remson, the main representative of the Carmelite NGO to the UN attended. Sr. Anna Theresa Nyadombo from Zimbabwe, who took advantage of being in Ireland also joined our meeting.

In the morning of 2 May, Sr. Anna gave us a short report on the situation in Zimbabwe:

As of February 2009, in an attempt to end the economic crisis, the government is formed by the three main parties.

Zimbabwe is in the grip of unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis marked by acute shortages of food, hard cash, deepening poverty, high rate unemployment. The health services  are affected in that there are no medical drugs in either the private or public hospitals. AIDs is wide spread. Patients are unable to purchase medicines. AIDS orphans are suffering in both the urban and rural areas.

Because of violence during the election many people are still homeless and starving.

The members of Karit, the NGO of the four Spanish provinces, gave a report on their programs in South America, Africa and Timor Este:

Karit gave assistance to the victims of the tsunami in Indonesia. They installed solar panels and constructed wells for drinking water and irrigation in Africa and South America. Educational  programs are a priority in the countries of the South.

In several cities in Spain Karit educates young people to be of assistance in programs for the needy in several countries.

The program is recognized and subsidized by the government as well as private organizations.

From Germany, Fr. Rainer reported on his work for peace and reconciliation in Israel and Palestine:

Rainer started the organization “MUSA’ADE”  - help and hope for Bethlehem.

Unemployment in Bethlehem runs approximately 50%. The prices of food has doubled in many cases. Many places had to close.

He provides information to more than 1550 e-mail addresses about the situation in Palestine. These are sent weekly and primarily throughout Germany.

Activities are: relief operations in Bethlehem, supporting the sale of religious goods produced in Bethlehem in markets throughout Germany, pilgrimages and solidarity traveling to Bethlehem, activities in the monastery and area of Straubing, Germany.

Rainer will mail us a weekly summary report on the situation in Israel and Palestine and their activities.

Two issues, human trafficking and climate change, are the main focus of our Carmelite NGO for the year:

Human Trafficking

In relation to Human Trafficking, a representative from the SRTV (foundation against trafficking of women) in the Netherlands and the coordinator of the Medaille Trust of the United Kingdom gave information on their work and the plight of the victims of trafficking.

Trafficking is hidden in the Netherlands and in the UK. However an ITV team did undercover work. Their subsequent DVD was shocking to viewers. It is estimated that some 25,000 women are enslaved in the UK alone.

These women believe they are coming to a better situation than in their homeland, often the poorest parts of the world, and that they will be able to help their desperately poor families. They arrive in the new country only to find that none of what they have been told is true.

Between 17th – 19th  Centuries, when slavery was legal, it is estimated that there were about 11 million slaves. It is estimated that in 2004, some 27 million people, many of them children, are caught in slavery.

Studies indicate:

- There are 600,000 and 820,000 new victims of transnational per year;
- Nearly 70% of those are women;
- Many of the victims are minors.

In the Netherlands, last year alone, there were 716 registered victims; 667 women and 49 men. ( forced prostitution).

In the Netherlands the emphasis is on prevention, education, and assistance to the victims.

Efforts are made to coordinate with organizations which operate within countries of origin for most victims.

Medaille Trust in the UK at this point has just two safe houses. They had to refuse other offers of houses because they lack the revenue to operate them. Medaille Trust has helped more than 65 women and their babies. These  women  have come from 23 different countries: four countries in Asia, ten countries of Africa, and nine countries of Eastern Europe.

The Medaille Trust has:

- a vision ad action group;
- awareness-raising and campaign group;
- schools Group – Schools’ Pack;
- fund-raising group;
- international networking group.

In the Netherlands, as in the UK, they developed a support plan:

- meeting client at the airport, providing transportation to resettlement area;
- providing accommodation;
- providing financial support while they find work;
- education for children, if needed;
- support finding work;
- medical care and advice;
- befriending.

The Medaille Trust, as does the SRTV, desires a world where the trafficking of human beings for sexual, economic and labor exploitation has been eradicated.

Climate Change

Jane Remson gave Input on Climate Change. She spoke in detail about the effects of climate change on her native Louisiana, where the hurricane Katrina wrecked major destruction.

As part of its work on climate change, the Carmeltie NGO in Europe plans to conduct a pilot test throughout the Netherlands and Germany investigating how green the Carmelite communities are.

Depending on the success of this survey/inquiry, similar studies may be conducted in other provinces in Europe. Results should be known by the end of July 2009. This data would then be incorporated in the conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Joseph Chalmers promised to write a letter of support to the inquiry.


The European section of the Carmelite NGO will continue to take shape as more provinces and communities become involved in its activities.

The Carmelite NGO presents Carmelite Spirituality on issues before the United Nations and familiarizes the Carmelite Family with United Nation's programs and issues. It is a way to remain loyal to our tradition and to put faith into action. 

Various groups at the UN have stated the need for a spiritual presence in UN legislation as so many modern problems have a  profound spiritual element.

The General Assembly of the UN relies on information from NGOs around the world because of their familiarity with problems on the local level.

The Carmelite NGO will receive full ECOSOC (Economic and Social Council) status. The initial recommendation has been approved and the full council of 54 members will vote during their July meetings. ECOSOC status will allow the Carmelite NGO to be more present at the UN, including the submission of written reports. ECOSOC status is important for the Carmelite NGO to maintain a strong voice, the only global forum open to all people working for a more just and peace filled world. While we will not be able to give speeches on the floor of the General Assembly, we will be able to speak in the various policymaking committees, write reports, and make recommendations. It will give us a voice to push for change.

The organization of religious at the UN, RUN, of which the Carmelite NGO is a member, is an important voice and is respected.

To before stroner, the Carmelite NGO needs the representation and participation of all the provinces of Europe. Arie Kuil, the European representative to the Carmelite NGO, will contact each province in the future to provide additional information and to encourage participation.

Communications within Europe should be directed to Arie who will communicate to Jane Remson, the main representative to the UN, as necessary.

Attendance at United Nations events in Geneva, CH, will be investigated and recommented to the European members.

As the European area of the Carmelite NGO, it will be necessary to meet regularly. We need to investigate European issues, monitoring our work as an NGO, how to finance the NGO, and how reports will be made to the provinces.

Report courtesy of Arie Kuil, O. Carm.