Kenya: Prophetic witness of women religious as ‘modern-day samaritans’
By Secretariat of Communication of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity
We wish to shine a light on our Congregation, the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity, starting with a quote from our founder (Saint Luigi Orione). As he was drafting the Constitutions for his first consecrated sisters at the beginning of the last century, before the first world war, he invited the sisters to serve Mankind for the integral development of Man, with preferential attention to the least ones, the poorest, and people with greater difficulties.
The Congregation’s mission is to exercise charity towards children and the poor, especially those who are most distant from God or most abandoned (cf. Saint Luigi Orione, Costituzioni PSMC , n. 3).
Since the founding of the Congregation, on 29 June 1915, huge steps forward have been made, especially in certain realities, but the essential nature of the goal remains unchanged, and from that time onwards to today, it is expressed in a spirit of welcome and of family life, in simplicity, in assistance and, today more than ever, in professional formation.
This attitude was also highlighted in the theme for the Institute’s 13th General Chapter which was held in May 2023: “In order to be a ‘Samaritan congregation’ through the prophetic witness of a new way of doing, acting and living”.
It is in light of this perspective that we would like to share our experience of mission in Laare, Kenya. This mission is the youngest community to have been opened by the PSMC in this country. It is the smallest and the farthest away from the capital. Its goal is to support the needs of the local population, of the poorest, of children and of people with disabilities. It is currently able to financially support the entire “Mother of Divine Providence” Delegation.
And yet, in August 2008 the sisters had opened the mission with very few resources, lots of good will and infinite trust in Divine Providence. Over time, these “works of God” became increasingly “powerful”, and with a very precise working logic, the religious missionary sisters were able to make them financially independent, thus putting an end to the now surpassed “maintenance” mentality, and guaranteeing the continuity of healthcare, educational and pastoral works even when benefactors may be forced to interrupt their support.
According to Saint Luigi Orione, young people still can and must be saved in order to guide our broken society back to God. Young people are society’s future, and the most beautiful hope of the Church and the world (cf. Saint Luigi Orione, 1912).
In terms of external financial support, for example, today Laare Mission is capable of helping more than 1,600 children and families on a daily basis.
The sisters also run an elementary and middle school, providing many children with access to education. They also run a nursery school to welcome even the youngest ones, thus fighting against malnutrition from the very beginning of life.
The sisters participate pastorally by collaborating with the local parish community, helping children and young people to draw near to Christian values, universal fraternity, the sacraments, and involving them in the life of the Church.
There is also a day centre for children with disabilities, to help and provide assistance to the weakest and most despised members of society, and to improve their quality of life. In this area, the psmc has had a profound impact on African culture and mentality, which is often victim to the secular legacy which claims that physical disabilities are cause for scandal and marginalization, and which deprives people with disabilities of all human dignity.
The sisters were courageous also in a concrete way. Over time they opened a tailoring shop, which in addition to giving employment to local women, also manufactures school uniforms and liturgical clothing. The profits support this and other activities of the Delegation. With the same aim, local people have been trained in agricultural work through experience achieved in caring for the farm, the fields and the animals, among them a large number of camels whose milk is sold for consumption and for the production of natural soaps.
We firmly believe that the secret to success is to live in charity, to serve the poor with authenticity, forgetting about ourselves and being open to other cultures. This is why we have started a promising network of missionary volunteers made up chiefly of young people who spend some time on the mission. They come from all the continents, but especially from Italy and Poland.
We think that young people are the salt of the earth and we wish to accompany them in this wonderful experience as missionary volunteers. In Laare, young people discover the joy of being part of the Church. More than 100 volunteers from all over the world come here each year to experience the authenticity of service to African people.
In Laare, we experience the joy of sharing, especially with the poor, but also with the local youth community and young people from throughout the world, opening our hearts and giving a reciprocal witness of Love and thus of the “power” of God!