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Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) Program, 2021 Year in Review

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Judith Atukwatse, OLGC, used the skills she learned in SLDI to start a vegetable and poultry project for her community in Uganda.


A year in review of the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program. Read about milestones, news and experiences from 2021.

The Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program offers Catholic sisters in ten African countries the opportunity to enhance their leadership competencies and professional skills in the areas of administration, finance and technology. Funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the SLDI program collaborates with partner consultants, congregational superiors and national conferences/associations of women religious to develop and deliver the program, which is taught over a three-year period.

Since the program’s inception in 2007, SLDI has empowered over 3,310 unique sisters to become more effective in their congregations and apostolates. An additional 1,316 stakeholders* were served through other program activities, such as General Superior workshops, totaling 4,626 individuals* served by SLDI.

Upon graduation from the program, sisters receive a laptop as a professional resource to build their technological capacity and increase the effectiveness of their work. Sisters also use the laptops to share what they learned with additional sisters, colleagues and others. Alumnae are expected to mentor at least 3 other sisters.

Program Success

  • Over 4,600 Served: Since 2007, SLDI has served over 3,300 sisters* and over 1,300 stakeholders* in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • More Confidence: 80% of SLDI alumnae* improved their self-perception and 44%* pursue higher education after the program.
  • Effective Use of Skills: Over 75% of SLDI alumnae* use their skills effectively to benefit their ministries and congregations.
  • Greater Impact: SLDI alumnae have secured $19.5+ million* for community projects, like building hospitals and improving schools.

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According to the SLDI Phase V, Year 1 Evaluation Report (2019), 3,300 sisters* and over 1,300 stakeholders* have been served by ASEC's SLDI program. Sisters who participate in SLDI have more confidence, display an effective use the skills learned and have an increased impact in their communities.

According to the SLDI Phase V, Year 1 Evaluation Report (2019), 3,300 sisters* and over 1,300 stakeholders* have been served by ASEC's SLDI program. Sisters who participate in SLDI have more confidence, display an effective use the skills learned and have an increased impact in their communities.

Field Trips

Field trips began in 2015 to provide a hands-on learning experience for sisters in the SLDI program. What makes the experience even more fruitful is that many of the visited projects are led by SLDI alumnae. Sisters are opened up to the possibilities ahead of them and are able to ask questions to alumnae who have walked before them.

In 2021, due to COVID-19, field trips morphed into online site visits, where SLDI participants meet with alumnae for a virtual field trip experience on Zoom. This allows current participants to interact with alumnae and learn about successful projects.

Alumnae Network

Upon completion of any ASEC program, sisters enter into the ASEC Alumnae Network. ASEC organizes annual workshops in each of it’s ten countries of operation, which provide sisters and their mentees with professional development and networking opportunities.

For the first time, ASEC Alumnae Workshops were facilitated online via Zoom in nine of ten countries. A total of 15 Alumnae Workshops were held in early 2021. Two workshops were held onsite (in South Sudan and Cameroon) and 12 were held online.

Sisters and their mentees are encouraged to attend the annual workshops, where they can engage in networking and continuing education opportunities. SLDI alumnae are members of over 415 different congregations, working in a wide range of ministries, which allows for new and exciting connections within a diverse network of sisters.

Alumnae Success

SLDI alumnae have shown incredible levels of success once given the gift of education. Sisters are able to serve more people more effectively, while sharing their knowledge and creating jobs within their communities.

SLDI Alumnae Report:

  • Serving 2.2+ million people,* mostly in rural areas.
  • Mentoring nearly 30,000 individuals.*
  • Creating 4,000 jobs,* aiding in economic growth within their communities.

Equipped with a strong foundation of skills, 44% of SLDI alumnae* go on to pursue higher education. 19%* pursue degrees through ASEC’s Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program.

Participants of the Malawi Finance Workshop in group work.

Participants of the Malawi Finance Workshop in group work.

SLDI Virtual Partners Workshop

In preparation for Phase VI of the SLDI program, ASEC held a 3-day Virtual Partners Workshop from June 15-17, 2021. Important discussions took place, especially surrounding updates and changes to the SLDI program planned for Phase VI. Specifically, ASEC will introduce Social Entrepreneurship to the SLDI program and reintroduce Web Design as an advanced technology training option for sisters. ASEC will continue to work closely with partners and consultants to develop the curriculum for these two additions.

New Program Models

Due to COVID-19, online and hybrid models of SLDI workshops were implemented in order to allow for the continuation of the program in areas where the pandemic will not allow for gatherings. The online model of the workshop was conducted completely online whereas the hybrid model was a mixture of online and onsite instruction.

Of the 32 workshops held in 2020, 10 were online, 5 were hybrid and the remainder were onsite (in person).

In Tanzania, participants of the SLDI Finance Workshop attend a field trip to Besone Pre & Primary School.

In Tanzania, participants of the SLDI Finance Workshop attend a field trip to Besone Pre & Primary School.

Institutional Capacity Building (ICB)

Initiated in 2019, ASEC's Institutional Capacity Building (ICB) program supports both the internal strength and the external service of national conferences/associations and congregations as they strive to positively impact human development.
In the ICB program, ASEC recognizes the existing capacity of institutions of women religious in Africa and collaborates in strengthening these systems to improve the vitality and vibrancy of institutions of women religious.

The pilot ICB program continued in Year 2.

  • 7 workshops for superiors were held in 7 countries; 3 additional workshops are planned for SLDI Year 3.
  • The national conference and congregation capacity-building process in Ghana concluded in March, 2021.
  • 1 convening of 2 congregations in Ghana was held in 2021 to build capacity in grant/proposal writing.

Delivering the SLDI program during a global pandemic has been challenging to navigate. But, it has also given us the opportunity to reflect, reimagine and collaborate globally in creative and innovative ways. We are excited to explore what else is possible in the coming year.

References

*SLDI Phase V, Year 1 Evaluation Report (2019) (PDF)

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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):

Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

Jaime Lyn Bloxham, MPA
Author
Program Manager, SLDI & Service Learning  

Amy Fedele

Amy Fedele
Editor
Media & Communications Manager  

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