By Francesca Merlo
Opening his preface to the book, Pope Francis notes that his intent is to deliver Joy’s testimony as a “heritage of humanity”.
The book recounts the story of Joy, a young woman who came from Nigeria, and “experienced a second birth in Italy”.
Her journey to Italy was an arduous one, and she became victim of a huge number of some of the injustices migrants face in their travels every single day. From crossing the desert, to being detained in camps in Libya, to surviving a shipwreck - all, unbeknownst to her - in the hands of human traffickers. Pope Francis defines her journey as her Via Crucis.
The simplicity of the "autobiographical and choral" witness, with which she tells her story "gives voice to God," writes the Pope. In fact, he adds, God is by her side, in every detail of her chronicle “like a hidden protagonist, silent, but not for this reason inert in the events narrated."
"Joy's story is one that unites many other people, like her, trapped in an infernal chain and struck by the tragedy of invisibile trafficking. A story as unknown as it is sinisterly omnipresent in our globalised societies", writes the Pope.
Joy's arrival in Italy
Pope Francis continues writing that it was only after crossing the world that Joy discovered she had been deceived and had fallen into the hands of human traffickers.
This is still the case today for many families, says the Pope, and this is exactly what happened to Joy and to her friends.
What truly is real?
Joy helps all of us to open our eyes, "to know in order to understand better," he continues. "It is often they, the victims of the most heinous abuses, who are an inexhaustible source of support for new victims. Their memories prove to be a crucial information resource in order to save other young people in the same condition."
Before ending his preface, Pope Francis expresses his thanks "to all those individuals and organizations who, even at the cost of their own safety, come to the aid of the victims of modern-day slavery." With their untiring dedication, he adds, "they restore self-worth to those who have been deprived of personal dignity; they restore trust and hope in the lives of those who have been deceived and have experienced the imposition of terror by those who, after presenting themselves as saviors, have revealed themselves as executioners."
"Your name is Joy, you have been your mother's joy from the womb, and so you received from her this beautiful name which is also one of God's proper names. You are Joy, similar to so many women whose story we are telling today, but above all, you 'are Joy': unique, desired, and much loved.
"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to join in your experience of absolute courage that allows us to better understand those who suffer from trafficking.
"Dearest Joy, as you write in these pages: 'only love, which nurtures peace, dialogue, acceptance and mutual respect, can guarantee the survival of our planet.' So, I recommend: 'Courage, study and do not be afraid.' Bravo, keep going!"