It’s estimated that 821 million people worldwide are chronically undernourished (UNDP, 2017). This amounts to the suffering of about 11.4% of the world’s population. Over 90 million (nearly 11%) of the undernourished are children under five years old.
What’s worse? Severe food insecurity and undernourishment in Africa is on the rise.
This is why education programs for Catholic Sisters in Africa are so important. Sisters are already serving in areas where food insecurity is at its most severe. And, alumnae of ASEC’s Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) and Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) programs are using their education to reduce malnutrition and end suffering in the communities they serve.
Through ASEC’s programs, Sisters learn technology, administration, finance, grant writing and leadership skills that are tailored to their specific needs and challenges as women religious. Once educated, Sisters are able to tackle issues in their communities in bigger and more efficient ways.
Armed with an education, Catholic Sisters in Africa are becoming leaders and global change makers. In fact, alumnae of ASEC programs have raised over $19.5M+ in funding for human development projects. Of this amount, Sisters have raised over one million dollars to address hunger. These projects aim to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: Zero Hunger. SDG 2 aims to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people–especially children–have sufficient and nutritious food all year.
Equipped with the right skills, you’ll see how Sisters are able to reduce food insecurity in bigger and more efficient ways.
For people living in rural Ordorme, northern Ghana, the presence of SLDI alumna Sr. Stephany Ayomah, SMI, is vital to their survival. That's because Ordorme is severely affected by food insecurity and malnutrition. The country of Ghana has a 19% stunting rate as a result of chronic malnutrition. But in the Northern region where Sr. Stephany serves, stunting rates have reached a staggering level of 33%.
To combat these problems, Sr. Stephany uses a multifaceted approach. She leads a women’s group where she teaches income-generating skills such as farming and soap-making. Through multiple grants, she renovated her congregation’s bakery, creating jobs and providing the community with healthy food. She also raised funds to drill a borehole and build a lab at the health clinic where she works. She now has plans for a nutritional unit at the clinic, where severely malnourished mothers and children can be treated.
Mothers and their children in Malawi are also benefiting from the education of Catholic Sisters. Sr. Hellen Matchado, SS, is using skills learned in ASEC's SLDI program to ease the stress of motherhood affecting women across Malawi. Sr. Hellen’s project focused on reducing the number of malnourished children, pregnant women and lactating mothers. Now, mothers and their children have access to supplemental nutrition and educational resources. Sr. Hellen’s project served 504 children, 26 pregnant women and 178 lactating mothers. It also reduced malnutrition rates in her community from 10% to 6% in children under five years old.
The Sisters’ food security projects not only improve nutrition and health in their communities. They also address other issues that normally keep people trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty; such as learning new skills, generating reliable income and paying for school.
At Cabana Sisters’ Bread Bakery, run by the Immaculate Heart of Mary Reparatrix (IHMR) Sisters in Uganda, supplies 70-80 loaves of bread per day for schools, hotels, supermarkets and the local community. As Bakery Manager, Sr. Maria Teopista Namigga, IHMR, uses skills she learned in ASEC’s SLDI and HESA programs to manage a staff of 30 employees.
Sr. Teopista supervises bakery workers from her local community, including orphans and school dropouts who need to support themselves. Since implementing a savings scheme she learned through ASEC’s programs, the bakery is able to run on its own. The savings scheme has also enabled Sr. Teopista to purchase a small bike and two vans as well as incentivize her employees by paying some of their school tuition.
In Cameroon, Sr. Leul Teklay, SCMR, and the Capuchin Sisters of Blessed Mother Francesca Rubatto run a kindergarten and serve as administrators in a public primary school of 350 children. Inspired by a field trip to a biofarm during her SLDI training, Sr. Leul initiated a biogas project for her congregation’s farm to help pay the teacher's salaries. She says,
“By carrying out this project, though we do not have any income, it reduces our cost since we do not buy cooking gas, milk and manure.”
Because of this cost reduction, there’s more money to give adequate salaries to teachers and provide children with a quality education.
This isn’t the only alumnae project that tackles both nutrition and education. These are two areas that are near and dear to the hearts of Catholic Sisters across the world. In South Sudan, SLDI alumna Sr. Helen Doru, SHS, used the skills she learned to initiate Sacred Heart School’s Feeding Program for Vulnerable Children. Sr. Helen noticed that hunger was affecting the students ability to concentrate and perform well at school. By providing supplementary nutrition, the program was able to improve their ability to focus, learn and thrive at school.
Africa needs educated Sisters
Because of society’s great need, the majority of Catholic Sisters in Africa are put to task without the proper training and skills. In fact, about 80% of African Sisters are lacking the education credentials they need to effectively serve the poor.
While educated Sisters in Africa are making strides towards Zero Hunger, there are still many people suffering from food insecurity and undernourishment. ASEC’s educational programs are in high demand and we can’t provide more scholarships without you.
Many Sisters in Africa haven’t even completed secondary school. The cost of tuition coupled with low-paying or non-paying service jobs that Sisters hold makes it extremely difficult for their congregations to afford tuition.
With the support of people just like you, over 5,300 Sisters in ten African countries have received an education tailored to improve her effectiveness in serving the poor. From improving healthcare and nutrition, to building infrastructure and initiating income generating projects, ASEC alumnae are transforming communities across Africa.
Will you be a Ray of Hope for a Sister who needs you?
When you donate today to ASEC's Scholarship Program, you’ll be providing young Sisters with the skills they need to effectively serve the poor. The gift of education, large or small, makes a BIG impact for years to come in the marginalized communities where Sisters serve. Just $20 will sponsor one week of secondary school for one Sister in Tanzania.
By supporting a Sister’s education, you can make an incredible difference in the lives of those who are suffering and be a part of a community of like-minded individuals responding to God’s call to serve the less fortunate.