Catholic sisters drawn from various congregations within Malawi and others from Kenya and Zimbabwe are participating in a month long financial management training. It is being held at the Association of Women Religious Institutes in Malawi (AWRIM) Secretariat in Lilongwe.
Sr. Teresa Mulenga of the Teresian Sisters says the program is supported by the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC), where she is the Programs Coordinator in Malawi. She added that the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) workshop is aimed at equipping sisters with knowledge and skills in financial management which is crucial in their day to day undertakings. She said much as sisters strive to preach the Gospel, knowledge in financial management is necessary. That will eventually increase their financial capacity to manage their respective congregations.Sr. Teresa then explained the need for training in more detail,
“Yes, our core mission as Sisters is to evangelize. However, we cannot preach the Gospel if we are not financially stable. We need to maintain our Congregations, and of course, support humankind both spiritually and humanely. Hence this workshop is crucial to us”
Sr. Teresa said that the sisters will be equipped with skills to prepare cash books, to use excel for computing financial transactions, to prepare financial budgets, to write project proposals, to collect data, and to write reports. She also adds,
“For instance, proposal writing for us as Sisters is very crucial. We need resources and these can only be accessed through proposals to potential funders. We cannot submit a proposal without a clear budget and therefore we need to know how to prepare budgets. This can be done using a computer. and excel is the program which is normally used. At the end of project implementation, we also need to produce a report. Hence report writing is important to us.”
The training is being facilitated ably by the Faculty of Commerce of the Catholic University of Malawi (CUNIMA).
As one way of appreciating the benefits of alumna who have benefited from a similar training in the previous years, Sr. Hilaria Chombo, Country Director for ASEC, took the current group of trainees on a site tour to St. Mary’s Rehabilitation Centre in Chezi, Dowa. There sisters of Mary Mediatrix are taking care of malnourished children and orphans. St Mary’s was purposely chosen because among the sisters running the centre are two ASEC beneficiaries. Sr. Teresa comments,
“We went to see how ASEC is impacting the lives of the people through its beneficiaries. We were impressed with what the sisters are doing; first, they have successfully ended malnutrition in the area; second, the sisters are running an orphan centre to care for orphan due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic; and third, sisters are assisting the elderly from the surrounding villages.”
According to Sr. Brenda who is in charge of the orphan department, they are very smoothly running a number of projects including agribusiness, thanks to the training they acquired from ASEC.
Meanwhile, Sr. Margaret Thumpwa of the Sisters of Our Lady has commended ASEC for empowering sisters across Africa with such educational skills. She said she will strive to implement and put into practice what she has learned during the training. Eleven congregations from Malawi and four from Zimbabwe are attending the training. There are a total number of 19 since several congregations sent more than one participant.