In African countries of Zambia and Nigeria, thousands are suffering from issues related to poverty, such as lack of education and unemployment. As part of their education, religious sisters from ASEC’s Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) workshops take field trips to be exposed to ways others combat poverty in Africa in the communities they serve.
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In Zambia, an SLDI Administration group attended a field trip to the Holy Rosary Sisters centre in Chipapa, where sisters are fighting poverty through teaching skills like tailoring, catering and food production to young boys and girls.
The centre began in 2011 with very few students but is now offering courses to over 40 students. Many of the centre's students are orphans who have dropped out of school and this is an opportunity for them to break the cycle of poverty they are currently facing.
Currently, the centre suffers from several issues like theft, floods, bush fires and lack of funds, but SLDI participants see so much value in this project. Students hope to use the skills learned in the program to drum up funding for the centre to resolve some of these problems. They also envision creating a larger space so more students can benefit from the training.
In Nigeria, the SLDI Finance group attended a field trip to "One Village Farm," a 12-year old farm maintained by Pastor Usman Maisamari Balarabe, where they learned how important agriculture can be. One Village Farm employs ten farmers and practices a mixed farming system where variety of vegetables and fruits are produced and animals reared.
SLDI students also worked together to submit a field report on their visit (PDF).
Pastor Usman's farm not only helps his living, but helps the living of others. He employs youths that graduate after achieving their tertiary education because they are often jobless. He uses this as his own quota to reduce unemployment in Nigeria.
“Nigeria has no business with poverty with a lot of natural things around us.” – Pastor Usman
Due to issues with the Agricultural State Training Centre, Pastor Usman has learned to create many things for his farm on his own – like fertilizer, pesticides and water sources.
His farm faces a similar problem to the centre with funds, regarding buying materials and employing services.
He encouraged the sisters, however, to promote farm work to the people they serve in order to reduce poverty in the country.
“I started with a small portion of land at my house, you have to start from somewhere if you have interest, […] once you have a vision, some people may ridicule you in order to distract you from achieving your goal, but don’t be discouraged.” – Pastor Usman
Despite these hardships, both SLDI groups felt eager to use these experiences to help their own congregations and communities.
“As SLDI Administration group, we feel so encouraged, challenged and have been energized to do more when we go back to our congregations.” – Sr. Juliana Chibaula Zulu, Zambia
“The training tour was so interesting that we cannot all wait to practice something closer so that we can also tell our stories.” – Sr. Clementina Obembe, ASEC West Africa Regional Director