ASEC News

2015 Recap by Sr. Jane Wakahiu

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)
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Read Sr. Jane Wakahiu's 2015 recap of ASEC from our annual newsletter.

Dear Friends, Partners, Donors and Colleagues:

Thank you for making 2015 a remarkable year for ASEC! Our journey together has not only been an incredible one but also very inspiring and enlivening. We feel blessed to have you journeying with us in support of Catholic sisters as we celebrate and thank God for the gift of Consecrated Life in the Church.

At this time of the year we take a moment to evaluate, to take stock of, to listen, to ponder our encounters, experiences, and successes, and to identify areas for growth. For sure, the year has been filled with activities; our staff and programs have grown and impacted more sisters and their ministries in Africa. Indeed, mutual relationships and partnerships have not only been expanded but also have been enriched, with sisters, partners and our staff working together on multiple projects. Our work together illustrates the strength of collaboration, confirming the African adage – it takes a village to raise a child!

In retrospect we accomplished a lot and the year has been a success. With no hesitation I echo the psalmist to exclaim with a grateful heart, “What returns can I make to Yahweh for his goodness to me!”

In November 2014, Pope Francis announced 2015 as the year of Consecrated Life. As an agency that serves Catholic sisters, the year has been a time to reflect; to assess how we will continue to strengthen sisters in Africa through the provision of education at multiple levels to increase the sisters’ attainment of desired skills and competencies for a global society. In this regard, ASEC Board Directors approved the expansion of a scholarship program to provide high school and twoyear college support for sisters in Africa. Since inception in 2012, the scholarship program has benefited over 104 sisters. ASEC will continue to deliver the Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) and the Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) programs, both funded through the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Together, the programs have benefited over 3,500 sisters from over 487 congregations in ten countries in Africa - Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, South Sudan, and Lesotho. While these are the locations for our programs, sisters from other nationalities have benefited because they are serving these locations. Additionally, ASEC will continue to grow our Service Learning program, enabling students from the U.S. to travel to Africa to work with and learn from the sisters and the people they serve. This program has brought 55 students and faculty mentors to Tanzania every other year. Mutual relationships have developed between American and African students expanding their global and cultural perspectives.

The streams of vocations are alive and flowing in Africa, with over 40,400 sisters serving in the ten countries served by ASEC, and another 4,200 in formation houses - the growing numbers of entrants require an education so as to be effective stewards, however, high cost of education are inhibitive. With sustainable funding ASEC will continue to serve the growing population of sisters in Africa.

In line with the UN Sustainable goals, ASEC programs provide educational opportunities to Catholic sisters who, in turn, serve their communities in ministries that serve the underserved and build communitycapacity and life quality. Sisters continue to strengthen Africa, and its people, through provision of quality healthcare, education, social and pastoral services, and addressing issues such as food security, educational access, fighting disease and poverty.

Undeniably, 2015 has been an incredible year, together we attained significant milestones. Thanks to our committed board of directors, staff, partners and friends of ASEC in both the USA and Africa.

Definitely, many hands make right work. In 2015, a total of 1,088 individuals were served by ASEC’s programs. We continue to record 99% retention rates in each of our programs. This year was a landmark year for sisters’ graduation from ASEC programs. Of the 1,088 beneficiaries in our programs, in the SLDI, 758 graduated in 2015. Through the HESA program, 15 sisters acquired degrees and diplomas, and 229 sisters are continuing on with their degree programs at eleven universities. Thanks
to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the legacy of Mr. Hilton to support Catholic sisters globally lives on!

Through ASEC’s scholarship program, 14 sisters graduated from the Bigwa Secondary School, with an additional 21 freshmen entering Form V; and 40 are in two-year colleges. Finally, our Service Learning program benefitted 11 students, and their faculty chaperones, from ASEC’s partner colleges/universities in the USA. Together the students and faculty spent two weeks in Tanzania tutoring English at the Bigwa School and learning African culture – truly an incredible way to foster interdependence in a globalized society.

The longest journey begins with one step, our dream of telling the stories of African sisters from their perspectives became a reality through the publication of our first anthology, Voices of Courage: Historical, Cultural and Sociological Journeys of Women Religious. The piece contains 19 chapters. It connects the reader with historical, social, cultural, political, and educational journeys of women religious. It is a remarkable piece, giving sisters a voice to tell their stories from their African eyes, and it is a true example of collaboration! Thanks to the GHR Foundation for a timely grant that supported the development and publication of our anthology!

Our staff, partners, in the USA and in Africa, have done incredible work through the year in moving ASEC’s mission forward in service to the sisters. To better achieve its mission, ASEC has grown, adding new staff, moving to a new office space, and serving unprecedented numbers of sisters. Our new ASEC home is spacious, welcoming and accommodating our program needs. Thank you, I am deeply grateful to our staff for they are truly committed to excellence!

Indeed, we are moving the needle in response to the UN Sustainable Development Goals through provision of education to the sisters who in turn continue to serve in remote, marginalized communities being present and standing by the disenfranchised in Africa. Together we are working to eradicate hunger, poverty, and create a sustainable future for new generation. Join ASEC for this is a force of good!

As you read 2015 newsletter, I hope it does not only tell a fine story, but also, that it connects you with sisters, their ministries and the people they so willingly serve in Africa. We desire to tell a story that has a human face and that appeal to global citizens. For sure, investing in sisters is a strategy to give back to the community and a way to bring change that impacts so many underprivileged in our society.

I am so grateful to foundations and individuals who continue to partner with ASEC to make a difference in Africa. I thank you and I look forward to working with all of you in 2016. And now, in thanksgiving, “Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together” Psalm 34:3. For he assures us to “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go... for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Gn 28:15).

I wish you a very blessed and enjoyable Thanksgiving and Christmas Festivities! May the new year 2016 bring all good tidings to you and your families!

Sincerely,

Sister Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, PhD
Executive Director

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