It Takes a Village: Caring for the Kids

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Students follow instruction during a 2018 visit to Infant Jesus Prep in Ghana.

Taking care of kids takes a village - something ASEC Sisters understand well. It is not just tucking them in at night and making sure they are accounted for during the day, it is also making sure their future is taken care of as well.

The idea has long stood that each generation will prepare the next generation for the survival skills necessary to succeed in this world, and furthermore, promote positive growth and change. While sometimes this works out better than other times, the best thing we can all do is try – try to educate the children of our world, try to instill good values, and try to give them tools they can use to build a future. While there are plenty of people dedicated to this cycle of growth, it’s tough to find many as dedicated to the cause as ASEC Sisters. 

For ASEC Sisters, taking care of the kids can mean several different things and is often based on geological location, political landscape, food security and safety concerns. It is never one-size-fits-all and sometimes requires an approach that brings in several different approaches to their care based on the specific needs of the area. 

For example, in Nigeria ASEC Sisters have found vocation in helping refugees, including children, who are seeking security from the political violence in Cameroon. This help includes providing food, shelter, teaching needed skill-sets, and perhaps the most simply yet sometimes difficult, listening.

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Students discuss the importance of health, safety, food and taking care of their needs during a lecture in Ghana.

Students discuss the importance of health, safety, food and taking care of their needs during a lecture in Ghana.

In Uganda, where schools had been entirely shut down for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sisters are focusing on making improvements to rural schools and education. It is important to note that none of these goals are without their challenges - low income, unsuccessful growing seasons, and infrastructure needs are all regular obstacles the Sisters find themselves working through.

Even with the pandemic aside, other ASEC Sisters are using their education and training to improve the infrastructure of school buildings and provide a safe place for students to learn. Sr. Irene Christine Oparku, a graduate of ASEC’s SLDI program, was able to transform a school in Ghana to give students a safe environment. This provides relief in the moment, but also can lead to brighter futures. Rev. Sr. Faustina Hasford of the Society of the Infant Jesus explained: 

“Graduates from the school easily gain access to first class senior high schools across the country and always turn out to be among the best-behaved students in their schools.”  

While these steps are impressive and making way for change across Africa, it's been noted in a recent memo by the UN that of all the regions, Sub-Saharan Africa experiences the most exclusion in education.

“Over one-fifth of children between the ages of about 6 and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of about 12 and 14. According to UIS data, almost 60% of youth between the ages of about 15 and 17 are not in school.”

It may be important to take a moment to reflect on common themes taught to children around those ages. Not being in school leads to illiteracy, early pregnancy, and shortages in the job market. In a cyclical fashion, these things can in turn lead to more exclusion in education. It is a tough pattern to break. 

Kids attend school in Ghana even amid challenges of education exclusion, poverty, food insecurity and more.

Kids attend school in Ghana even amid challenges of education exclusion, poverty, food insecurity and more.

Putting education aside, some ASEC Sisters are dedicated to giving children a basic necessity - safety. In Kenya, Sr. Anne Kamene Musyoka, ASN, runs a wide variety of activities at her school to safeguard kids by enriching boys and girls and, when needed, helping them find legal help when needed for issues such as sexual assault. 

The skills needed to provide these services and opportunities to children have been obtained through the training and education of ASEC Sisters. In various different programs in many different African countries, ASEC Sisters have learned about leadership, grant-writing, responses to trauma, assessment of educational needs and more. These skills are helping them take care of the kids - one of the most important things we can do in this world. By supporting the education of ASEC Sisters, you can help, too, to take care of the children of the world.

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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 Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation Reduce inequality within and among countries Sustainable Cities and Communities Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
Sr. Irene Christine Oparku, SIJ

Sr. Irene Christine Oparku, SIJ
Profiled in article
SLDI Alumna - Ghana  

Monica Simon

Monica Simon
Former Web Content Manager - USA  

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