This year’s World Mission Sunday campaign takes us to Kibera in Kenya, which is the largest ‘slum’ in Africa. It’s rife with all the problems poverty brings – malnourishment; addiction; abuse. But missionary Sister Mary meets the challenges of life in Kibera with faith and friendship. Here, she shares about her charism, her mission, and the community she walks alongside:
Part of our charism as Little Sisters is befriending, as Mary the mother of Jesus did when she went to Elizabeth. Since coming here in 2012 I have been accompanying the novice sisters, but when they go to school, I have time to go visiting.
I began with the Christians I met in church. From there, little by little, I gained their confidence, and they would welcome me to their houses. In the process, they shared some of their problems.
Even if I have nothing to give them, at least when the stories are painful, it is possible to find someone who can help. It leads me to create friendships with other people who are able to help.
What befriending means to me
I do a lot of listening. People in need come to our house, or sometimes I meet them at our local church, and we sit down and talk. When I’m not able to help them, or if they have suffered physical damage, I contact doctors who are friends and are able to help. Or some other Sisters, who work with the hospitals, so they don’t have to pay too much to get treatment.
So it’s friendship, but friendship that means you can’t just sit and watch, that something has to be done.
‘Hearts on fire’ means ‘feet on the move’
Sometimes I meet young girls who are still in school or even university. Their parents are drinking, and the girls come into Kibera and stay with people who are dealing drugs. So that means that when we talk to them, it can be dangerous. So I work alongside people from Church or people who know the area well.
Some girls we are able to talk to and we can help rehabilitate them so they can return to college or back to school. With some others it is not possible.
And you know, you also find very bright children, but their parents are not able to pay the government school fees. So that is a heartache sometimes. I do anything I can so that they can go to school, that they can study and do something. I network with other people. Sometimes I tell our Superior and they are ready to help too. And it’s a big thing; if nobody helped them to continue at school, then they would be vulnerable. People would misuse them.