This month, the panelists shared some of their congregational ministries with women, describing how they meet the special needs of this vulnerable half of humanity in various places around the world, especially those experiencing war and violence.
Two things they agreed on: Education is a powerful shield against poverty, and peace is a key ingredient to a prosperous and happy life. The panel responded to the following question:
Women seem to always get the worst of the world's crises. How does your congregation help women deal with the effects of poverty, war, terrorism or violence?
Christine Nasimiyu Masivo is a Missionary Sister of the Precious Blood. After formation studies in Tanzania and Canada, she worked at radio stations in Kenya and Uganda as a reporter, editor, news director, producer and news anchor. She is now with Capuchin TV and pursuing graduate studies in communication.
Many women in the slums of Kawangware in Nairobi, Kenya, are especially vulnerable because of their terrible life situations. Poverty and violence are the most common issues.
These women are single mothers or the wives of drunkards or husbands who do not care about their families. Some of the men were violently abusive toward them or drank so much they could not provide for their families.
The women who care about their children's education struggle to keep them in school. This has led some of them to become involved in unhealthy practices that are very risky to their health, such as drugs and prostitution, for the sake of keeping their children in school.
Sometimes, the women seem not to know what to do because of the immense rate of poverty and the high cost of living in the country.
The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood live in this area and have been of great help and support to these women. For example, Sr. Anne Grace leads a team that tries to bring the women together to help them help themselves and live a decent life.
The concept of microfinance was introduced to these women, and they adopted it gratefully. They give 50 Kenyan shillings monthly to the group pot to become a member, then they are allowed to take out small loans that enable them to start small businesses.
A number of them have been faithful to this project and have started small businesses for selling fruit and vegetables. Now, they can provide food for the family and school supplies for their kids. We sisters provide the children with school fees and other educational expenses, which are very hard for them to meet. The Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in Kenya took this initiative because we thought helping the women was key to solving many problems.
Because of the abuse they suffered from their husbands, the women would end up neglecting their children, who would run away to the streets of Nairobi and eventually become victims of drug abuse and prostitution. By helping the women, we prevent a variety of social problems.