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Desire to end human trafficking inspires sisters to go on pilgrimage

Desire to end human trafficking inspires sisters to go on pilgrimage

Desire to end human trafficking inspires sisters to go on pilgrimage

11 August 2017

Captain Melanie Holland is preparing to trek 280km of the Camino de Santiago this month, to raise funds for anti-human trafficking programs in Cambodia.

By Simone Worthing

“This is an opportunity to be part of the solution,” said Major Melanie-Anne Holland who, later this month, will trek 280km of the Camino de Santiago (Way of St James) in Spain to raise awareness and funds to battle the global scourge of human trafficking.

Major Melanie, Corps Officer at Gosford on the NSW Central Coast, will walk with her sister, Juanita McMillan, who attends the Rouse Hill Corps in Sydney.

The pilgrimage trek is organised by The Salvation Army’s partner, Project Futures – an organisation dedicated to raise awareness and funds to prevent human trafficking and slavery, as well as support and empower those affected by these insidious crimes. Project Futures has helped support The Salvation Army’s Trafficking and Slavery Safe House in Sydney since 2009, and continues its active support today.

Major Melanie and Juanita will join the trek participants in each raising $2500, with funds going to the work of Project Futures in Cambodia through the Cambodian Children’s Trust. This Trust is a community development organisation in Battambang, Cambodia, that operates a holistic range of services that prevent vulnerable children and their families from being exploited, subjected to forced labour, begging or being trafficked into orphanages.

The Camino de Santiago winds through the Pyrenees Mountains in Southern France and across Northern Spain, finishing at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where tradition has it that the remains of the apostle James are buried.

“As women of God, we want to contribute to the freedom of others,” says Major Melanie. “One of the verses that inspires us is Galatians 5:13: ‘You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.’

“We believe every person is made for freedom and dignity, and we want to be part of realising that for others.”

Major Melanie explains that, in 2013, she was assistant manager for Samaritan Services in Sydney, which included the Safe House. “I became more aware of the issue of human trafficking both overseas and in Australia, and so my motivation for this trek is simple – I want to do something practical about it. We chose this walk because of its spiritual nature. It’s a pilgrimage of prayerfulness, vulnerability and hope and we believe it will stimulate our faith in Jesus.”

Major Melanie and Juanita start their walk on 29 August. The first section they will tackle is from Saint Jean Pied to Logrono over the French Pyrenees to Spain – 160km. The second section is 120km from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela.

“It’s basically a half marathon every day,” Major Melanie explains. “We won’t get there fast, but we will get there! We carry all our own gear, so as part of the pilgrimage we’re learning to shed what is not important.

“We will stay in places along the way that are hostels for pilgrims and serve meals and have showers. This is also part of the ancient principles of resting in the hospitality and grace of God along the way.”

Major Melanie and Juanita have been planning this pilgrimage for the past year. You can follow their journey on their Facebook page – made to be free.

To contribute to their fundraising efforts, go to



  1. WOW, inspiring story

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