Sharing new voices of sisters in Kenya, 4

This article appears in the Writing Workshops feature series. View the full series.
Writing session at Chemi Chemi. (Melanie Lidman)

Nairobi, Kenya — As Global Sisters Report celebrates our one-year anniversary, we are also celebrating the connections we have made with sisters in Africa, where women have even less of a voice in the global conversation. While in Kenya in January, I ran two writing workshops for more than 100 sisters. During my trips to Nigeria and Uganda, as we began to introduce the concept of our website, sisters were hesitant to write for GSR.

“I don’t know what to write about!” they told me.

But in Kenya, the sisters were thrilled to get the chance to share their stories with the wider world. As I was leaving the last workshop, I overheard one sister say to another, “You know what? We work so hard. It’s about time that somebody started sharing our stories!”

Following are pieces from the Kenya workshops. Click the Writing Workshop tab by the date or here to read work from other writing workshops.

If you’d like to run a writing workshop for your congregation, go to this copy of the lesson plan here or email Melanie (melanie.lidman@gmail.com) for more information.

Something I have learned from my work as a sister

The challenge of change is a tough experience not only for me but for many in the world. As a leader who is in charge of projects coordination in our provinces in Kenya and Tanzania and the leader of a local community, I often feel strained and overwhelmed because I want others to understand that we need to start moving. As a community of sisters in Africa we do not get enough support from our mother province in the Netherlands, which makes it difficult to maintain things like upkeep of our facility and the apostolates.

I take inspiration from Peter in Mark 6:45, when he says we need to get out of the boat of comfort and be a wet water walker rather than a dry boat talker. This is the challenge I have taken upon myself by being the change I want to see and that I believe the sisters in Africa need. I am also trying to inspire other sisters and apostolates to take up this challenge as well.

- Sr. Damanis Mathusi, Little Sisters of St. Joseph Africa

Sr. Damanis Mathusi, Little Sisters of St. Joseph Africa. (Melanie Lidman)

Moments of joy as a sister

I worked for nine years in Burkina Faso as a physical therapist. Early in my service, a few of my patients asked if I could come and give them the Holy Communion. I checked with my community and the parish priest and they encouraged me to do this for the sick and elderly. I started giving Holy Communion to one of my patients, an elderly woman who had a stroke.

After we prayed a bit together, she said to me, “Next week, sister, can you also visit my neighbor and bring her Holy Communion?”

After the second week, the friend asked if I could visit her neighbor as well and then another and another. Before the month was out I had 16 people to visit. It was an amazing feeling of community and solidarity. When I visited people, they would ask me, how is M.? How is T.? Did H. get her Holy Communion? It was an incredible experience of understanding the love between neighbors, and my visits connected one person to another.

- Sr. Lucile Nzigire, Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, Congo. (Melanie Lidman)

The families of the patients also started to get involved, preparing a small stool with a cross and a candle, and telling me, “Sister, we have been waiting and praying for Jesus to receive the Holy Communion.”

I did this for three years, three hours per day. My biggest worry was about leaving at the end of my mission and returning to my home in the Congo. I spoke about this with the parish priest and he said to me, “Do not worry, we will train the lay people.” So this program was able to continue after I left.

This experience helped me as a missionary in so many ways, including learning the local language and becoming an accepted part of the community. I was inspired by the actions of Jesus, traveling from place to place and bringing the word of God. God is always with us when we trust him and dare to start a new experience.

- Sr. Lucile Nzigire, Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, Congo

My biggest challenge as a sister

As a child I believed in doing things independently, without the interference of others. But as a sister I have learned that community living is the sure way to succeed in religious life. This kind of living demands humility, surrendering of self, and being able to understand the meaning of unity in diversity.

- Sr. Edith Smao Akinyi

Sr. Edith Smao Akinyi. (Melanie Lidman)

[Melanie Lidman is Middle East and Africa correspondent for Global Sisters Report based in Israel.]

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