When Conrad Nicholson Hilton passed on in 1979, he left a will with a special request ... that the foundation he started should pay special attention to the Catholic sisters for their special work among the poor. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Steven Hilton, current President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation led a delegation to Nairobi Kenya to visit with Catholic Sisters participants of the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program. SLDI is the brainchild of Mr. Steven M. Hilton.
The purpose of the site visit was for Mr. Hilton and delegation to asses and witness the results of the work the CNHF has been doing over the last five years on a program, he himself initiated, the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI). The overarching goal of the SLDI program is to increase access for management and leadership skill-building for African Sisters through training and education and adaptable to the specific needs and contexts in which the Sisters are working.
The delegation witnessed first-hand the work that the SLDI graduates had done in their communities as well as among the people they serve. The team included, Mr. Steven M. Hilton, President & CEO, Edmund J. Cain Vice President, Shaheen Kassim-Lakha, Director, International Programs, and Brad Myers, Program Officer. Also, Sister Anne Munly, IHM, President of Marywood University and Vice Chair, ASEC, Sister Jane Wakahiu, LOSF, ASEC, Executive Director and Sister Lina Wanjiku, SE, SLDI, Director Eastern Africa, were present. The team visited more than 10 different projects run by the sisters among the poor people of Kenya. They listened to touching stories of those served by the sisters’ projects, from kindergarten children to high school children, rehabilitated street children, the sick in hospital, farm workers as well those living with HIV and AIDS. This was proof of the effectiveness of the skills transferred to the sisters since 2007.
In the outskirts of the industrial town of Thika, the Hilton delegation visited the Assumption sisters of Nairobi where they witnessed the activities being carried out by the Sistersin their expansive Karibaribi community. This community encompasses, the mother house and formation house for the sisters, a coffee farm that goes back to the early 60s, a modern agricultural farm where they are growing all types of food crops, a school beginning from Nursery to high school.
The Hilton team witnessed how the skills gained by Sisters: Susan Wairimu Njoroge in Project Management, Catherine Kanyua and Mercy Florence in Administration, Basila Musyimi in Finance, all working in different stations across the country has transformed the operations of the congregation to a higher level of effectively. The skills imparted on the sisters were evidently in use in the projects they run and in service to their people.
In response to what he had seen, Steve said,
“I am touched by the work of the sisters here, with such little resources they able to minister to so many people. With a little more support I believe you will achieve much more, touch more souls and improve the lives of many more people.”
In Kasarani, the outskirts of Nairobi, the Hilton delegation visited St. Francis Community Hospital, which is part of a whole range of projects run by the Little sisters of St. Francis in an area that is populated people from low income areas who live in the informal settlements around the hospital. The delegation was taken through the hospital, a rehabilitation center for street children and listened narrations of people living with HIV and AIDS who are under the care of the sisters. A seven year old boy Emmanuel John Zachary, a member of the child support group at St. Francis Hospital epitomized the work of the sisters... “I know that I am positive, I have learned to live positively, eat a balanced diet, take my drugs, and work hard at school... my life is the hands of the sisters!!!”
While presenting food items bought with funds from the Hilton Fund for Sisters, Steve said,
“I am gratified to see so many happy faces among these children, happy that the sisters have stood with them at their hour of need. Hilton Foundation will continue looking around for innovative ways in which we will continue to support the sisters in the good work they are doing.”
Mr. Steven M. Hilton distributes foodstuffs to Saint Francis Rehabilitation Home for Street Boys. Sisters are mothers to these boys. Looking on are Sister Schula Waiyiu, Regional Superior and Sister Jane Wakahiu, ASEC, Executive Director and SLDI Project Manager.
Saint Francis Rehabilitation Home for Street Boys, was all joy on receiving food stuffs from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation delegates. Pictured are Sr. Lina Wanjiku, SLDI, East Africa Director, Sr. Anne Munley, IHM, President of Marywood University, Sr. Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, ASEC, Executive Director and SLDI Project Manager, Sr. Scola Waiyiu, Regional Superior, Mr. Brad Myers, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Mr. Steven M. Hilton, President & CEO, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the boys.
Steven M. Hilton, President and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation signing the book.
Steven Hilton is planting a tree
Mr. Steven M. Hilton presentens lanterns to the students of Maria Immaculata Borading Center. Sporadic electric most of the time students are in the dark in the evening, this creates challenges for them to study at night.
Maria Immaculate students dance on receiving the lanterns, one of the students said, “We are so happy, we can now have studies at night even when there is no electricity… we are grateful to God for the gift of lanterns!”
SLDI, Finance Track participants are excited on meeting the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation delegation, Sr. Lucy a participant one said “I am so glad to see and meet with Mr. Hilton and the delegation … their help has enabled me to become acquire computer literacy skills… may God bless the Foundation.”
Mr. Steven M. Hilton presents a bowl of soil during the offertory – A sign of richness of the earth and that the Foundation has facilitated growth of the sisters through imparting knowledge and skills via SLDI program.
Sr. Anne Munley, IHM, President of Marywood University listening to proceeding of HIV/AIDS affected persons at Evangelizing Sisters of Mary in Ongata Rongai, Kenya. Gathered were seventy home health support teams, each of the seventy coordinates a team of twenty persons and their families in Kwale Slums all affected by HIV/AIDS.
In another part of the expansive area of Kahawa West, the Franciscan Elizabethan sisters run chain of Nursery schools within informal settlements surrounding Kahawa Estate. The nursery schools also operate as feeding centers that cater for more than 600 children from poor backgrounds. Their nursery schools have taken on board all children including those living with various disabilities as a way to support them. In addition, the sisters also care for HIV positive children who are neglected by their parents. Other ministries visited during the trip included, Maria Immaculata Center at Maziwa, Evangelizing Sisters of Mary complex at Ongata Rongai that included farming projects, HIV/AIDS program, nursery and apprenticeship school, Kibagare childrens Center in the slums and Maryw Immaculate Hosptial.
Since the initiation of the project in 2007, over 700 sisters have been trained directly in the acquisition of skill in strategic planning, needs assessment, grant writing, financial management, report writing, team building, mentoring and ethical leadership. In the spirit of the founder of the CNHF, to “relieve the suffering, the distressed and destitute” without regard to race, religion, or country, more than 2,300 sisters and co-workers have been mentored across 6 African countries; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Ghana and Nigeria.
Furthermore the delegation held meetings with partners of the SLDI program including, Association of Sisterhood of Kenya (AOSK); Association of Consecrated in Central and Eastern Africa (ACWECA); Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA); Tangaza College and SLDI facilitators, CORAT Africa, Mungai Wainaina Company and EMD Organization. ASEC is grateful to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for the SLDI program and the wonderful work and lives transformed by the Sisters in Africa. Hilton’s Legacy continues…
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation delegation, Steven M. Hilton, President and CEO, Edmund Cain, Shaheen Kassim-Lukha and Brad Myers together with SLDI representatives including Sr. Anne Munley, President of Marywood University, Sr. Jane Wakahiu, ASEC Executive Director and SLDI Project Manager, had a meeting with the Association of Consecrated Women in East and Central Africa (ACWECA) representing nine Countries – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Southern Sudan, Northern Sudan, Eriteria, and Ethiopia. The meeting was held in Nairobi, Kenya at the AOSK center in ChemiChemi.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation delegation meets the SLDI Instructors at the AOSK ChemiChemi Center in Nairobi, Kenya. Represented were Corat Africa, the EMD Organization, and the Mungai Wainaina Company. Also present were Sr. Anne Munley and Sr. Mary Paul Wamatu, CPS, ASEC Board members.