Monday, September 22, 2014
For two young people the Benedictine Sisters are the family they never had. Having stayed with the sisters in the orphanage from birth, both have been blessed to find the love and care they needed. For Blessing Benedict she was found with no connections to her family. The sisters took her in and adopted her. When legalizing her paperwork they asked her what she would like her last name to be. Proudly she told them, “Benedict! I belong to the family of the Benedictine Sisters.” In Latin Benedict means blessed.
For Marko Kapinga giving back to the sisters who gave him so much is important. Marko and his siblings have lived at the orphanage since birth. Their parents were lepers. Marko did exceptionally well in school and was given the opportunity to go to Catholic University by Sr. Fromunda. He became a teacher and is now back at the mission teaching the orphans.
Sr. Rosann says that when you see exceptional children if we have the funds we will do the best we can to educate them. It’s for the good of the person, but also good for the nation. These children appreciate so much and they have opportunities they would never have otherwise.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Here I am again, Abby, comin’ at ya! Gee, don’t the months go by fast? It seems like I just wrote a message to all of you and now, here it is again, time for another update from me! Well you can see from the picture that we had a great time at the picnic last evening. I got to sit on Sr. Dorothy’s lap and get some love! Doesn’t everyone deserve that kind of attention? Sometimes the days go by so fast and there isn’t the attentiveness to show our appreciation to those closest to us. The people and things around us tend to get taken for granted. Us dogs, of course, are great at giving unconditional love, but even we sometimes fail. Like me, for instance. If my favorite Sisters are around then I always want to run to them and get their petting and attention and kind of ignore the others. That is something I definitely need to work on!
Otherwise things here at the monastery are going fine. I went with Sr. Rita Marie for “our” retreat at Hildegard House. I like it up there, but it is exhausting because I need to be constantly on guard to protect her. There are all kinds of strange sounds, like the refrigerator coming on, coyotes howling in the distance etc. that trigger my need to bark! I even saw quite a few deer and Sr. Rita Marie had to explain what kind of creatures they were. I liked sleeping in though. Isn’t it nice to treat ourselves to these small pleasures? Dogs are great at that and I think it is part of my job to help the Sisters see the small things and give us joy and happiness.
Til’ next time….
Monday, September 15, 2014
(While on home leave Sr. Rosann Ocken, Prioress of Peramiho Priory, sat down with Sr. Inviolata and talked about the work of the sisters in Tanzania-Peramiho Priory. One of their major ministries is the Orphanages where they take care of 80 children. If you would like to learn more about the work the sisters are doing check out www.mbsmissionaries.org.)
One difficulty with the orphanage is the government takes no responsibility with orphans. They do not even help cover the cost of education. The costs to raise them then lands on the sisters that take them in. They must pay for shelter, food, healthcare, clothing and education. The expenses are constantly growing.
The sisters work with the social workers in the area to bring the children that are in need into the orphanage. The families sometimes can’t sustain the child because of the loss of the mother. The temperatures in Mjimwema get down to freezing and without a special bond, like the bond between a mother and child, the children could die. The families are encouraged to visit and bond with the children while they are at the orphanage before they go back home.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Many years ago Sr. Fromunda started an orphanage in Peramiho for children of lepers and HIV victims. At one time Sr. Fromunda had 130 orphans funded by German benefactors. Funds from these benefactors have begun to decline due to the age of the benefactors.
There are now three orphanages that the sisters tend to. The sisters have begun to decrease the number of orphans they take in, in order to give higher quality care to those children already with them.
They have recently built a new orphanage in Mjimwema because conditions at the original orphanage were not good. The area that the orphanages are at has one of the highest rates of HIV in Tanzania at 22%.
On average the sisters have 20 infants at all times in St. Anna’s Orphanage in Uwemba. Age ranges from Day one to 2-3 years old. After three years old the children will go to the Good Shepherd Orphanage in Mjimwema. The sisters have begun to phase out their Morogoro Orphanage which currently has approximately 20 children who are continuing their high school or vocational training education.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
(While on home leave Sr. Rosann Ocken, Prioress of Peramiho Priory, sat down with Sr. Inviolata and talked about the work of the sisters in Tanzania-Peramiho Priory.)
The sisters in Peramiho work in many different ministries around the area. Sr. Rosann explained some of these ministries and they include:
Care for Lepers
In the early years, care for leprosy patients was a major concern. Because of fear of contamination, lepers were ostracized from their villages. By 1911 the sisters had established the leprosy village in Morogoro. Today, treatment of leprosy has changed dramatically and patients remain with their families while treated as outpatients. However, 40-some elderly residents remain in Morogoro, as it is the only home they have had for decades. The Sisters also assist another 40 elderly lepers in the neighboring village of Letisha with monthly food rations.
Care for Orphans
Care for orphaned and vulnerable children began immediately with the arrival of the early missionaries as they ransomed slave children. Currently we have three centers for orphaned and vulnerable children:
1. St. Anna’s Orphanage in Uwemba cares for twenty infants. Poverty, the high prevalence of HIV-AIDS and complications of sickness or childbirth leave the children motherless or totally orphaned. The sisters and staff see the children through the critical years of infancy and, when possible, return them to their extended families.
2. Good Shepherd Orphanage in Mjimwema is newly built to care for 48 children beginning with preschoolers. We focus on the total care and development of each child, physical, spiritual and emotional.
3. Morogoro Orphanage currently holds approximately 20 children who are continuing their high school or vocational training education.
Education has consistently remained a top priority of the sisters throughout the decades. Today the community continues to value this ministry.
1. Peramiho Girls Secondary School was founded in the 1960s as one of the first secondary schools to educate girls. Today, the boarding school serves over 300 girls in six levels and remains one of the highest-ranking schools for girls in the nation.
2. St. Joseph Nursing School in Peramiho was founded by Sr. Tetwigis following her arrival to Tanzania in 1949. Today our sisters continue to offer superior education to students in two nursing programs (Level A and Level B Nursing).
3. Dressmaking Vocational Training School in Peramiho offers young women expert training in women and children’s clothing. This three-year program lays a foundation for these women who want to establish their careers as seamstresses.
4. St. Gabriel’s Vocational Training School in Uwemba offers sewing, cooking and overall domestic training to young women. The three-year program focuses on area rural women who have few options for success.
5. Electrical Vocational Training We are grateful to have a sister involved in the electrical training school in Peramiho.
6. Good Shepherd Kindergarten in Mjimwema (Songea) is our newest development. With confidence that early-childhood education establishes a foundation for learning, in 2014 the community opened the new school offering English-medium Montessori training. When the school is fully established, it will hold 150 children, ages 3-5.
Quality health care remains a major challenge in Tanzania. HIV-AIDS and malaria remain special challenges throughout Tanzania. Our sisters serve the sick primarily in two locations.
1. St. Joseph Hospital in Peramiho is a 400+-bed facility owned by the Missionary Benedictine Monks. Our sisters work closely with the administration to provide the best possible care in the conditions in rural southwest Tanzania.
2. St. Anna’s Health Center in the mountainous area of Uwemba serves the local people. The government has recently allowed health centers to have a minor surgery in order to save the lives of mothers and children. Our current project is to establish a new surgery suite at St. Anna’s.
In all of our ministries, sharing the love and light of Christ is our primary purpose. The sisters are also involved in Basic Christian Communities, catechesis, youth ministry, etc.
Protection of life at all levels is a high priority, be that through our existing ministries or through other avenues.