Indonesia – 9 July 2018

Alumna from Indonesia helps human trafficking survivors reclaim their dignity

2018 Hermann Gmeiner Award winner

Maria Anggelina, who grew up in the SOS Children’s Village in Flores, Indonesia, is a person who simply cannot stand by and do nothing knowing the plight of women who have suffered at the hands of human traffickers.

Through her work with the victim recovery programme of Good Shepherd Sisters, a Catholic religious order, Angge – as she is called – tries to restore the lives and dignity of Indonesian women who are fortunate enough to have returned to their home villages.

In many ways, Angge, 35, can identify with the women she is supporting. “I’m really grateful to have grown up in an SOS family,” she says. “I believe if I didn’t live in the SOS Children’s Village Flores, I could have been one of the victims of human trafficking.”

In recognition of her work as a champion for marginalised woman, Angge was voted as one of two winners of the 2018 Hermann Gmeiner Award. The bi-annual award honours inspiring women and men who were cared for in SOS Children's Villages and who have gone on to become role models in their communities. This year's winners were chosen from eight finalists selected from 71 nominees from 30 countries.

A brave person who takes action

Angge and the Good Shepherd Sisters carry out their work in Batam, an island in Indonesia’s Riau Archipelago. Poor women and girls from eastern Indonesia who are looking for work have been known to fall victim to traffickers who lure them with the prospects of work and better wages.

“People who are taken away from eastern Indonesia are often forced to become housekeepers and to work without pay,” explains Angge. “They are prepared by the traffickers to be sent abroad. But those without legal documentation are sent home by ship. Sometimes they are even thrown overboard in the middle of the sea.”

In Batam, the Good Shepherd Sisters run a women’s shelter and provide support services to those who have survived this form of modern-day slavery. Through their victim recovery programme, the Good Shepherd Sisters give the women psychological support, followed by training to give them skills they can use when they return to home.

Angge also helps to raise awareness in the community, particularly with parents, about the danger of human trafficking and violence. She also conducts sessions for children about sexual harassment and child exploitation.

“Angge is a brave person who reveals the truth and takes action,” says Sister Luciana Rahayu, a women’s shelter counsellor at Good Shepherd Sisters, Indonesia. “She often doesn’t even think of herself.”

Angge knows that there are risks in speaking out against human trafficking. But her deep faith gives her courage to speak out against this inhumane trade and help the survivors. She draws inspiration from the founder of the Good Shepherd Sisters, Sister Mary Euphrasia, who is quoted as saying: “A person is of more value than the whole world.”

‘Don’t let your past hold you back’

In the SOS Children’s Village in Flores, Angge is viewed as a role model in particular for her commitment to education. When she was there, she was the only child from the village who left the island to complete her studies.

Her SOS mother, Anselina Wela, is very proud of what Angge went on to achieve.  “I’m so happy, because she came from a poor family, and she has reached this point of success,” Anselina says.

In the future, Angge wants to build a school for young children from low-income families. She also wants to build a shelter for the survivors of human trafficking as well as a place to train them so they gain useful skills.

“My message to all SOS children around the world: let’s take any opportunities that have been given by SOS to us in order to achieve a successful future. Don’t let the past hold you back from achieving a brighter future,” she says. “SOS Children’s Villages never asked anything in return, but to see your success and happiness. Let’s spread love around us.”

More about our work in Indonesia