In Her Words: Proud to be a Fruit of Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA)

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Headmistress Sr. Maria N. Isaya with other staff at Mother Kevin Secondary School in Tanzania

Sr. Maria N. Isaya, a religious woman of the Institute of the Little Sisters of St. Francis in Tanzania, started her journey with ASEC in 2016 through the Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA). Since then she has brought transformation to her community by using her skills to provide education to those in poverty, improving their overall quality of life.

I am Sr. Maria N. Isaya, a religious woman of the Institute of the Little Sisters of St.  Francis in  Tanzania. In 2016, I joined Mwenge Catholic University  (famous as MWECAU) to pursue my first degree in the field of Education (focusing on English and Kiswahili) under the sponsorship of HESA. Thanks to HESA for making this possible.  

The HESA program inspired me and empowered me with quality education, which taught me to be a strong person in leadership management.  Currently, I am proud that I utilize the acquired skills and knowledge as a  headmistress of our congregation secondary school known as Mother Kevin. I am enjoying this responsibility and I am very much proud to be an alumna of HESA.

Immediately after completing my studies, I was entrusted to establish this secondary school in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. It was a big shock which took away my appetite; I grew thin and I was frazzled. The appointment gave me a severe headache and I could not imagine where I was to start from.  

I sat down and reflected on my appointment as a disappointment to me. I was at the brink of giving up, but just as I was, something reminded me that I am a fruit of HESA. I  flashed back on the different courses I took – project writing, leadership and more. I woke up, wiped my tears and took a step. I said to myself, “Maria,  you can make it. If others made it, why not you?”

Using the knowledge and skills I acquired through HESA, I managed to write  projects for the establishment of the school. Right now we have managed to establish  8 classrooms, one dining hall, washrooms (for boys and girls), two small  dormitories, fencing one side of the school and drilling of a borehole. 

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Mother Kevin Secondary School was initiated by the Little Sisters of St. Francis of  Assisi to accommodate orphans and vulnerable children who are not able to access education easily due to their poor background. It was also a goal to fulfill the community desire of having a mixed religion secondary school within their area. 

The Little Sisters started the school after research was carried out during their apostolate. While visiting the Christians in their different homes, they noticed that most of the children were not going to school due to lack of money and basic needs. Since the situation in their homes was not conducive to educational development, and there were no other Catholic schools nearby, the Little Sisters responded to the cry of the poor by opening the school. This response helped them to fulfill their charism of reaching out with compassion to marginalized people  in the spirit of St. Francis and Mother Kevin. 

The school was established in the year 2020 with 26 pioneers and currently employs eleven teachers – four men and seven women, three of them being sisters. 

In the 2021 Form Two National Assessment, our students performed well and we were number two in academics among the 62 schools in the district.

Academically we are good and our students are well disciplined. We thank God for this. So far He has journeyed with us and He is still holding us dearly.  

The biggest challenge we are facing now is lack of capital for establishing the  remaining structures of the school, i.e. Laboratories, library, kitchen, etc. 

Being an alumna of the HESA program, I am excited to do more. I feel this experience has been a call to service and to live out our charisms. It is a responsibility of striving to make the world a better  place to be lived by everyone, especially the poor and the needy.

Trust in God and in His time and ways of doing things, He will surely surprise  you! He never leaves nor forsakes anyone who trusts in His divine Providence. He is ever-present in our miseries and difficulties, He only waits for us to call on His  name. Our God is a loving, merciful and caring father, He will never abandon us, let  us have faith in Him. 

Personally, I have seen the hand of God in every hard situation; He has been my  constant companion. I love Him and believe in Him. This far is God, and if not Him  being on our side we wouldn’t have reached here. (Mother Kevin Community – workers and students). We have all the reason to thank and worship Him. Thank you  Jesus, praise you Jesus.  

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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):

End poverty in all its forms everywhere Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies
Sr. Maria Isaya, LSOSF

Sr. Maria Isaya, LSOSF
HESA Student - Tanzania  

Monica Simon

Monica Simon
Former Web Content Manager - USA  

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