My Experience as a HESA Liaison

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Staff & partners visited Nkozi Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, where HESA alumna Sr. Harriet Baker, IMHR, serves as Nursing Director, supervising ≈100 healthcare workers. From L-R: Rosemary Shaver, Sr. Harriet Baker, April Fowlkes, Tara Lopatofsky

April Fowlkes reflects on her experience coordinating ASEC's HESA program at Chestnut Hill College and taking her first trip to Africa (Uganda) in June 2019.

I’ve had the pleasure of working as the HESA/ASEC coordinator for Chestnut Hill College for the past six years!

In June 2019, I had the honor of attending the very first HESA conference in Uganda. The Sisters of ARU immediately and graciously welcomed us upon our arrival. The kindness and hospitality shown dulled any concerns I had about being so far from the comforts of home. From our pick up to our drop-off at the airport 12 days later and at every moment in between, their care and compassion were tangible.

Our site visits opened my eyes to the deep-rooted impact that HESA has on the Sisters and, in turn, the power of change that it has created for the communities in which they serve. I felt proud that I could represent Chestnut Hill College during the conference.

At the forefront of my experiences during the site visit was my time spent in the schools with the children and staff. Their joy and way of living reminded me that our community with one another and the earth is beautiful because of its simplicity. In the busyness of my day-to-day life, I will cherish these memories and strive to instill the same sense of peace within others.

The HESA inaugural conference was brought to fruition with great thought and care. There was not any detail left unaddressed. It allowed for a free flow of conversation among colleagues and ideas to be shared among new friends. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with our partner schools in West Africa, discuss new opportunities and share best practices moving forward. Additionally, despite being only miles from our other founding partners, Rosemont College and Marywood University, for the first time, we were able to share a space for new ideas to grow the partnership.

I would be remiss if I did not, with the sincerest gratitude, acknowledge Sister Draru Mary Ce- cilia, LSMIG, Rosemary Shaver, M.Ed. and Tara Lopatofsky, Ph.D., for their planning, coordination and inherent leadership leading up to and throughout the experience.

Additionally, I extend many thanks to Sister Carol Jean Vale, SSJ, Ph.D., Sister Kathryn Miller, SSJ, Ph.D. and Elaine Green, Ed.D. at Chestnut Hill College for their endless support of HESA and my role within the program.

I’m excited as we embark on our sixth cohort for 2020!

Be a Ray of Hope

Communities across Africa are counting on Catholic Sisters, but 71% lack the education needed to carry out their important mission work. You can be a Ray of Hope for a Sister who needs you by donating to her education today.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
April Fowlkes, MS

April Fowlkes, MS
HESA Liaison, Chestnut Hill College - USA  

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