Deutschland: Lea Ackermann

I don't accept the argument that prostitution and slavery are as old as humanity itself and that fighting them is a task for Sisyphus. Diseases are old, too, but we never stop fighting them.

— Lea Ackermann

Sr. Lea helps women who have been victims of trafficking. She and her colleagues assist them while giving testimony about the perpetrators in court. The association Solidarity with Women in Distress (Solwodi) supports prostitutes who are caught up in prostitution tourism in Kenya. Solwodi provides training to young women and their daughters and helps them build up a life without prostitution. Because of AIDS, working with the daughters of prostitutes has become increasingly important. Therefore, the organization Solidarity with Girls in Distress (Solgidi) was established in 2002.

During Sr. Lea's visits to Mombasa, people on the streets welcome her by cheering “Sr. Lea, Sr. Lea!”. With her work she made a lasting impression on Kenyan women. When Sr. Lea came to Mombasa in the 1980s, she was already concerned about women trafficking. Mombasa was a center of prostitution tourism, and as a military port, it was also one of military prostitution. Sr. Lea established Solidarity with Women in Distress (Solwodi) and training facilities for dozens of young prostitutes. In the mid-1980s, I was able to observe Sr. Lea at work. A young prostitute had a German boyfriend and gave birth to his child. Every few months, he came to Mombasa and stayed at his girlfriend’s place. He usually gave each of them, woman and child, a t-shirt. He also contributed a little bit to the household while he was there – but overall, it was a cheap vacation for him - until Sr. Lea took him to task and told him to make provisions for the woman and his child. She told him to buy a small plot of land for his girlfriend and to register it in her name. And so it happened. The man gave money to Sr. Lea, who made sure that the plot was bought. After receiving this start-up financing, the woman built one small house after another and rented out the apartments. She was able to ensure her and her child’s future – increasingly without the help of Sr. Lea, who still dropped by to see how she was doing. When Sr. Lea realized how difficult it was for the daughters of prostitutes to deal with the fact that their mothers supported them through prostitution, she initiated the project Solidarity with Girls in Distress (Solgidi), with groups for mothers and daughters in which both could talk about their feelings. As there are countless AIDS victims on the African continent, it is especially important for survivors to reconcile with each other, despite the generation gap.

Solidarity with Women in Distress (Solwodi) Solidarity with Girls in Distress (Solgidi) Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa