A core value of the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC) is reverence, which highlights that:
ASEC respects the special value, unique talents and gifts of each person created and sustained by God. To revere life, is to act and respond with deep respect and compassion for the dignity and diversity inherent in humanity. ASEC extends services across multiple cultures and communities, to the global north and south, operating with an appreciation for the uniqueness of people and their worldviews; and with empathy by listening, reflecting and promoting communication that is meaningful, honest and inclusive.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the call “we are at this together” sounded almost contradictory to the call for social distancing, masking up and sanitizing. Social distancing drove us to create, curve and protect a space that we called our own. At the same time, we became more conscious and respectful of the social space of each other for health and safety reasons.
On a recent flight, as we boarded and took our assigned seats in the aircraft, the steward constantly reminded us to “be kind to one another.” This reminder appeared to suggest to me that shared space slipped from our memory so quickly! We needed a reminder to re-enter and share public space again after several months of social distancing. Literally, during the flight the steward encouraged us to learn again to reach out in kindness across our social boundaries and, in deep reverence, welcome other travelers to share our social space. Therefore, reverence is suggested as the North Star that guides us to re-learn how to share our private and public spaces again.
In the challenging years of 2020/21, I am delighted to inform you that the value of reverence enabled us to stretch our imagination and creativity to keep ASEC’s programs afloat and running online in spite of poor electricity and internet infrastructure in Africa. The Catholic sisters in Africa continue to be strengthened as they courageously tackle difficult situations and offer essential services to the people in Africa.
ASEC has also experienced institutional growth. Associate Memberships have increased from the original 4 to 7 and this number will continue to grow. I am delighted to inform you that about 2,000 sisters from diverse congregations and countries remained enrolled in ASEC’s three major educational programs across Africa.
You have been an important part of ASEC’s success story and development. In the spirit of reverence, I acknowledge and appreciate your partnership and collaboration that has sustained ASEC’s mission, especially during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the year ahead, may reverence be the North Star that guides you and your loved ones into good health and safety.