Every human being faces challenges, pain and suffering in their lives. Our challenges are unique and we face them with different levels of resilience. Unfortunately, many children in Africa are facing hurdles that seem far too unjust to overcome. This was the case for two young sisters, Margaret and Cecilia. Abandoned by their father, the sisters had to grow up much faster than most children.
Sr. Matilda Komiwe Banda studied administration through ASEC’s Sister’s Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program. She and her congregation, the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (OP) in Zambia, work in social welfare and see cases of abandoned children like Margaret and Cecilia far too often.
The girls’ father was a truck driver and would leave the girls for days on end. They often would not eat and lived in an uninhabitable home with no one to care for them. It was difficult to do well in school with hunger pangs rumbling in their bellies. Although they were forced to be adults, they didn’t think like adults and could not understand their desperate situation. The girls would often ask, “Where are the Good Samaritans?” that they learned of in the Bible.
But when a Samaritan on a journey came upon him, he looked at him and had compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Luke 10:34
The Samaritan risked his life for a stranger because Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me’ Matthew 25:40.
Margaret and Cecilia went a long time without a Good Samaritan to save them. Their father left them for days without a thought of what they would eat. Their nearby neighbors had nothing to give them as they were also struggling to have enough.
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Thanks be to God, these children have been taken to institutional homes by Sr. Matilda and her congregation. Their new home is like an oasis in the desert where they have all of their basic needs provided. Because of the acts of Good Samaritans, Margaret and Cecilia are now thriving. Today the two sisters are very responsible, hardworking girls. They are both fluent readers and are academically gifted and very pleasant to be with. These girls are the lucky ones because the story doesn’t always end this way. In Zambia, there are still many children living on the streets.
Every day, Sr. Matilda and her congregation are working towards equality for all people, especially children. She uses the skills she's learned in the SLDI program to make a difference, but the fight for social justice takes its toll on her.
“We have a lot of disparities. The gap between the rich and the poor is so vast. Those who have more they are unable to eat and yet those who do not have the means are craving for their daily bread. Where is the social responsibility of the rich?” says Sr. Matilda. “Jesus would say they have eyes but they cannot see, they have ears they cannot hear. Are the people unable to see the needs of their neighbor like the rich man and Lazarus?”