While visiting the Huruma convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Kilimanjaro (CDNK), ASEC Programs Coordinator – Tanzania Sr. Maria Telesphora, COLU, discovered that Catholic sisters are using their talents and skills to create positive change in their congregations and communities. The CDNK sisters should be used as a model within the church because of their incredible potential to create sustainable economic support systems, social networking and environmental conservation.
CDNK is one of the oldest congregations in the Kilimanjaro Region and is known for being hardworking. They keep livestock such as cattle, hens, pig, and rabbits and also cultivate crops to stabilize the congregation’s finances for the future. The congregation is still attracting many vocations because girls are impressed with the ministry of CDNK sisters they interact with at schools, hospitals and other social settings within the community. These successes are the result of very committed, educated sisters with strong leadership skills.
While the Tanzanian government struggles to initiate sustainable industries elsewhere in the country, the CDNK sisters have succeeded through their clothing and fabric manufacturing business in Huruma Rombo, Tanzania. The sisters receive orders for church garments and other materials used in prayers and liturgical celebrations. Many of their employees are youth and marginalized people who live near the convent. Through their business, the sisters can help people in their community to sustain their own lives. It also helps the congregation to stay financially secure.
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To respond to the need to improve basic job skills of the youth, the CDNK sisters also initiated an embroidery and sewing school for girls. This project is aimed at eradicating poverty and promotes gender equality by giving priority to girls and woman who have been culturally and traditionally suppressed by society.
The CDNK sisters also care for the environment through reforestation, ensuring that any timber that is used is replaced with new growth. They are very focused on improving the quality of the environment and sustaining the natural resources of Tanzania.
The CDNK sisters are living proof that through quality education and a willing spirit for hard work, African sisters can sustain their congregations, serve their communities and bring about positive attitudes in the fight against poverty.