During the first week of March, ASEC Africa staff met virtually for updates on the organization and a training on social entrepreneurship. Although the meeting was originally planned to be hosted in Malawi, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made travel difficult. Instead, Africa staff and U.S. staff joined virtually on Zoom, with representation from 11 different countries.
Each day began and ended with prayers presented by different African countries. Staff listened to inspirational music and joined in collective prayers for each other, Catholic congregations, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and peace in the world.
After morning prayer and introductions, staff attended a two-day presentation about social entrepreneurship presented by Michael Nkrumah from AdviseWise. Attendees learned that anyone who identifies a need in a community and sets up an enterprise to fill that need or solve a problem can be considered a social entrepreneur. In this training, ASEC sisters were able to learn about setting up business models that can tackle social, economic and environmental challenges.
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These skills can help ASEC sisters as they continue to develop projects in their local communities. ASEC Executive Director, Sr. Mary Cecilia Draru, explained, “It is so nice to see how you can bring our world to the corporate world and bring the corporate world to us!”
Sr. Lina Wanjiku Ndung'u, SE, ASEC’s Regional Director for East and Central Africa, was grateful for the workshop. “We will be able to build projects in a more professional way,” she said. “We know how to create businesses and evaluate the impact of them.”
During the other two days of the conference, staff gave presentations to keep all members of the organization up to date.
ASEC Staff from the U.S. gave updates on various branches of ASEC. Rosemary Shaver, M.Ed. Senior Program Manager, gave an update on the HESA program. Tara Lopatofsky, Ph.D., CCLS, who is ASEC’s Senior Program Manager of Monitoring and Evaluation, gave a presentation on HESA, SLDI and ASEC Evaluations, while Program Manager of SLDI and Service Learning Jaime Bloxham, MPA, spoke about SLDI programs and ICB. Later in the week Sr. Nancy Kamau, Director of Development, presented a new project, ASLA, which garnered interest among the staff.
Throughout the workshop, Executive Director Sr. Draru took time to teach sisters about embracing new ways instead of always sticking to the same routine.
“We cannot fall into old self or the ways that we were. The present is good but we need look forward, too.”
Citing the disciples’ decisions to follow Christ even though it was a new way of thinking, Sr. Draru explained that new ways of functioning can feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable. The disciples chose to follow Jesus and it changed everything. She explained that it is important to embrace the new with gratitude and an open mind as this moves us forward.
Towards the end of the event, Brighid Blake, Head of the Board of Directors, and Monica Simon, Web Content Manager, announced awards to the countries to thank them for their help in generating content for the organization. Kim Scalese, Office Manager, held up the plaques granted for each award. The winners were as follows:
- 2021 News Award Winner (Most Submissions) - Kenya
- 2021 Best Photo - South Sudan
- 2021 Best Video - Uganda
- 2021 Most Original- Nigeria
To close out the meeting staff listened to the song, “Go Light Your World” by Chris Rice. The staff then reflected briefly on how we can keep the candle burning for the ASEC mission.