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Striving for the Good of All

Striving for the Good of All

Vicki Hale, Virtual English Language Fellow for St. Joseph’s College for Women in Visakhapatnam, India, sent us this wonderful video about her time with the Sisters and students. Thanks to Sisters Rising donors, this school is able to help girls gain the skills necessary to find employment so they, as Ms. Vale states, “can be contributing members of society as well as to their families.”

To see other programs in need of funding, click here.

Follow Up: Tacna, Peru

Follow Up: Tacna, Peru

During this time of COVID, when there is so much death and misery in Tacna, Peru, funding that Sisters Rising Worldwide donors provided, has allowed the school psychologists to double the time they are spending with students and their families.  They have been conducting workshops to support parents and teachers in helping their children cope with the grief and loss they are experiencing.

Sr. Zaida Perez recently sent us some images from their online workshops with parents.

 

 

Double the Joy this Holiday Season

Double the Joy this Holiday Season

As we head into the season of gratitude and giving, we are excited to announce that one of our donors has offered to match up to $5,000 of all SRW donations between now and the end of the year.  The focus of our holiday giving campaign is to raise funds for Dawn’s Place.  Click here to get more details about their needs and how even the smallest of donations can make a big difference in the lives of women who are survivors of human trafficking.

We will official launch our holiday campaign–“Joy to the world”–on #GivingTuesday which falls on December 1, 2020.  During a time when the world can seem so dark, Sisters are spreading and light and joy to so many–and you can be a part of the good work they are doing by making a donation and/or by sharing SRW with others in your network.

Click here to make a donation now.

Be sure you are following us on Facebook and Instagram.

Program Follow Up: Visakhapatnam, India

Program Follow Up: Visakhapatnam, India

We continue to get wonderful updates from our recent fully-funded program in Visakhapatnam, India.  Thanks to our donors, Sister Anitha and her team were able to purchase a van that provides girls at their school with a safe transportation option to get them to higher-level internships, allowing them to avoid human-trafficking as they prepare for careers that will help them escape poverty.

Here are some pictures of the new van!

Deep Gratitude from Faith and Joy School in Tacna, Peru

Deep Gratitude from Faith and Joy School in Tacna, Peru

This is an update from our fully-funded program in Tacna, Peru

 

Arriving just in time to help the students, teachers, and families cope with the COVID crisis, the Sisters Rising Worldwide donation was able to help a part-time psychologist who has been serving the Fei & Allegri School for the last four years to move to full-time, serving 1,000 primary and high school students, as they coped with the changes required by COVID-19.  In Peru, students have been attending school remotely since school began in March.  “The current situation in the face of the pandemic has caused changes in our lives because our routines, habits, customs, way of thinking and way of relating to the school have changed, which has forced us to promote adaptation strategies,” shared Sr. Zaida Perez.

Families of students are in crisis.  Forty percent of the parents of students are in the informal employment sector, where they are running very small businesses that allow them to subsist from day-to-day.  Many haven’t been able to consistently work since the COVID crisis began, causing widespread hunger.  The sisters have been able to help many.  Often students must work with their parents.  Together the parents and the psychologists help the students deal with their stresses so that they can focus on their education while assisting their family.

Speaking about the increased psychologist services, Sr. Zaida shared, “We are blessed with a lot of help in this time of great need during the long confinement. A part-time psychologist and a practicum student are assisting our full-time psychologist.  In addition, this year, the Ministry of Education assigned a psychologist to the school to work with the teachers in order to teach them to be able to help give support to the students and their families.  The Parent Association has also raised funds to support our psychological team in helping the teachers, parents, and students in coping with the many adjustments that need to be made.”

The educational psychologist seeks to promote mental health in the educational community and contribute to the comprehensive training of students, that is, to the full development of their academic, emotional and social capacities.  This has been happening through phone-call sessions.

The psychologists coordinate the actions of accompaniment with the homeroom monitors and teachers who refer the students who present some kind of difficulty or learning disability or inappropriate behavior in the family.  Each student has a psychologist who is their contact.  Assistance is also shared with their homeroom monitor or the teacher who supports the student.

Remote learning and counseling have been challenging for the students who don’t answer the calls from the psychologists because their phones haven´t been charged or because they are working for family survival.  The psychologists consult these situations with the homeroom monitor or teacher or assistant principals.  Sometimes Sr. Zaida also intervenes to find out what is happening.

During this year of remote learning, both the parents and teachers have benefitted from services offered on-line. These days, many people are dying and / or will die from the coronavirus.  Workshops have provided participants with tools to help them face all these changes, live their grieving processes in a healthy way and be able to effectively accompany the students.  During the workshops, the participants were attentive, asked questions and were grateful for generating this space for reflection and sharing.

“I am very grateful for your wonderful help.  This is a great need that we have tried to support throughout the years that we have been in the school (almost 30 years).”

Sisters COVID-19 Response: Final Report

Global Sisters COVID-19 Response: Final Report

Facing an unprecedented moment, and with the support of GHR, SRW teamed up with Alight to reach over 1,300 Sisters and 54,000 people in their communities across 37 countries, getting them the tools they need to keep their communities safe.

The Approach

From mid-April through July 2020, we convened hundreds of Sisters, helping protect those most at risk. Our approach included three phases, each tailored to support these community’s unique needs and context:

  1. Provide individualized, virtual emergency planning sessions and training with Alight medial supervisors.
  2. Channel more resources to Sisters, to supply things like masks, protection gear, gloves, and soap, according to their specific needs.
  3. Sent digital health messaging toolkits, developed by Alight and translated for each context, so that Sisters can share with their communities.

The Impact

Training

*72 COVID-19 prevention and preparedness trainings conducted
*722 Sisters in attendance

Resources

*56 projects, supported by a micro-grant of $1,000 each
*564 Sisters supported by micro-grants
*Reached 23 countries across Africa, Latin America, Asia, & the Middle East
*In total, 54,000 people were supported through the micro-grants

Messaging
More than 19 million people were reached through Sisters via Alight’s In Our Hands COVID-19 prevention messaging campaign, distributed through context-relevant social media, radio, and television messages, as well as posters, flyers, face-to-face messaging, and more

Sisters in Action

Through $1,000 micro-grants, we channeled support to Sisters in some of the most marginalized communities in the world. With the flexibility of the micro-grant, Sisters were empowered to provide the resources specific to each neighborhood, each town, each country.

*Sister Cynthia in Bihar, India provided food security support and soap for daily laborers, who were deeply affected by COVID-19 lockdowns.
*Sister Ruth in Kenya stocked up on much-needed masks, scrubs, and personal protection equipment for the health clinic she runs.
*Sister Astridah in Zambia set up hand washing stations, gloves, and soap in her community, as well as pioneered a COVID-19 prevention and information radio program with In Our Hands messaging, reaching thousands of people.
*And Sister Estela in Ecuador was able to purchase critical medications, delivering them to 75 seniors who were able to stay safe at home.

 

The Global Sisters COVID-19 Response was a co-creation of  Sisters Rising Worldwide, Alight, GHR, IDEO.org, a diverse group of Catholic Sister communities, and a cohort of private sector physicians, working to activate and unite Catholic Sisters for a global COVID-19 prevention and response program.

 

Thank You from India

Thank You from India

After recovering from COVID-19, Sister Anitha in Visakhapatnam, India, sent us this “thank you” video for fully-funding her recent program that provides girls at her school with a safe transportation option to get them to higher-level internships, allowing them to avoid human-trafficking as they prepare for careers that will help them escape poverty.

Here is another great video from Sister Anitha and some of her students–giving you a better idea of the amazing work being done at her school.

We look forward to getting more updates!

New Technology Platform Connects Sisters around the World

New Technology Platform Connects Sisters around the World

Sisters Rising Worldwide (SRW) has designed and developed a technology platform, The Peace Room, that is now being distributed to Sisters in 187 countries. The platform is a game-changer for it allows Sisters to connect with one another and work closely together to cast a more significant web over social injustices.

The Peace Room is a private, secure site that allows Sisters the opportunity to share best practices, immediate crisis concerns (i.e. COVID), and request what resources and funding their ministries may need. “This platform is a central depository of information and makes the powerful work of the Sisters more visible,” says Sister Irene O’Neill, founder of SRW. “It is a hub that enables live communication between Sisters around the world as well as allows Sisters to describe their work, send requests for resources, and share impact. It’s like building a library where the Sisters can read about others’ work and talk about issues of concern and importance.”

Sisters seeking resources for their ministry can submit a request via The Peace Room, sharing information about their specific project, its objectives and overall impact. Once a submitted request has been approved by SRW, the request—along with photos—is moved to the public website (www.srw.org) where crowdsourcing begins. “The objective of crowdsourcing is to reach as many people as possible and invite them to help move the Sisters’ work forward through their online donation,” adds O’Neill. “It is our hope that the local impact of Sisters’ work will emerge into a global reality of hope and compassion.”

To see what current Sister programs are in need of resources and funding by clicking here.

Update from El Salvador

Update from El Salvador

Through our strategic partnership with a humanitarian organization and their COVID Emergency Fund, we’ve been able to connect with Sisters and provide much-needed resources during this global pandemic.  Here is an update of how the COVID Emergency efforts have been working in El Salvador.

San Salvador
Since March, 28 sisters in 6 communities, have participated in virtual emergency preparedness and planning sessions and have distributed emergency medical and food supplies to nearly 2,000 community members. The four-month strict quarantine caused drastic poverty and hunger. In these desperate times, families in El Salvador started a “White Flag Movement” where they place white shirts, aprons, etc. outside their homes and on roadsides, signaling that they are hungry.  Sister Conchy quickly gathered the youth leaders of Apopa in search of white flags in their community, and delivered food kits to those most in need.

Tropical Storm Amanda
In May, El Salvador endured another crisis with Tropical Storm Amanda causing many families in Apopa and La Chacra to lose their homes. Sister-led communities were able to meet the most basic needs of their communities–things like blankets, mattresses, hygiene items and food–as well as support 1,500 people as they repaired roofs and rebuilt homes.

The Road Forward
As El Salvador works to reopen, the Sisters are now grappling with how to safely reopen their youth centers to provide a safe place for the youth to learn, grow, and dream.  Over the past two weeks, SRW, the Color Movement and LERO design teams have completed brainstorming sessions with the Sisters and the youth leaders, rethinking how the communities can thrive in the times of COVID-19.  We are now working to tackle the following challenges:

  1. Lack of access to technology for proper remote education
  2. The continuing economic crisis and lack of economic opportunity in the vulnerable communities
  3. The toll the pandemic has had on the mental health of the youth and their parents

If you would like to help these Sisters continue to do powerful work in El Salvador, click here to make a donation.

 

Global Sisters Report’s Q&A with Sister Irene

Global Sisters Report’s Q&A with Sister Irene

Sisters Rising Worldwide’s Sister Irene O’Neill recently talked with the Global Sisters Report regarding the upcoming launch of our new online platform that will expand the ability of Sisters to connect with each other and to the resources their ministry needs. “Imagine 700,000 women with a prophetic call of compassion, [who] chose to give their entire life to promoting peace and justice, know the root causes to the poverty around them, but cannot connect with each other,” she asks.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Many GSR readers may know a bit about Sisters Rising Worldwide but perhaps aren’t sure what the nuts and bolts of the organization are. Can you explain those?

O’Neill: As I’ve traveled for work nationally and internationally, I’ve asked sisters, “What are you doing? What are you working on?” Everywhere, sisters are quick to name root causes to the poverty around them, and most often describe their huge responsibilities and investments in responding to symptoms of underlying problems.

I’ve met sisters working on projects that help groups of 500 to 1,000 women in their community or area. All the while, these sisters know that if they are able to focus on reducing or eradicating root causes, the entire village or region could flourish, and tens of thousands more could be helped. Another reality is that many sisters feel siloed in their work and don’t always have a way to communicate out to the world for resource needs they may have.

About five years ago, I decided to focus my attention on whether or not a solution existed that could unite and help sisters on a global scale. I gathered a group of visionary sisters I knew, and together, we looked for answers to questions like: How do sisters and members among congregations connect? Are most congregations siloed? Do sisters from different congregations within the same region or country share resources? Who connects to whom, and why?

What did you learn?

We learned that many sisters are on Facebook and WhatsApp, but connections to other sisters depend on first knowing the other sister. We searched the technology landscape for a way to more broadly connect sisters and found none. Eventually, we realized an entirely new platform needed to be developed.

We wanted to be able to know where sisters are and what they do and to have that information available for the global sisterhood. The platform needed to be secure and enable sisters to sort by location and ministry. Sisters focusing on education or domestic violence, for example, would be able to share insights and best practices and offer support to one another. A sister in the Congo teaching job skills to women could chat with sisters who also are teaching job skills in Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Germany, Nigeria, Brazil, the U.S., for example. The local impact of sisters’ work would emerge into a global reality of hope and compassion. This platform would be a game-changer not just for sisters, but illuminate a loving presence to all others, as well.

As only God would have it, just when we needed to take a big step forward to figure out how to go about developing a platform, Sr. Patty Johnson, a Sister of St. Joseph, called upon her incredibly talented family of cousins, the Mallons, to help us develop a wireframe that ultimately developed into our new, secure technology platform. This platform provides a hub that enables live communication between sisters around the world as well as allowing sisters to describe their work, send requests for resources and share impact. Sisters can sort information by country and category of service. As sisters register and begin to describe needs, Sisters Rising Worldwide will work to connect resources with these needs.

Do sisters want this?

Oh, yes. About two years ago, Sisters Rising Worldwide was invited to attend as observers at a Western Hemisphere anti-trafficking meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsored by Talitha Kum. At the end of the agenda, sisters were asked to list what would be most helpful to them going forward. The group sorted out the top six most-desired points. We were ecstatic when we saw our mission validated in the six top needs.

Read the entire article here.

SRW Board Member Helps Organize “Women Religious on the Frontlines” Symposium

SRW Board Member Helps Organize “Women Religious on the Frontlines” Symposium

SRW board member Sr. Pat Murray of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was part of the leadership team that organized the recent “Women Religious on the Frontlines” symposium in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and the British Embassy to the Holy See.  The symposium highlighted the humanitarian efforts of Catholic sisters who selflessly serve on the front lines of conflict zones and other vulnerable places around the world.

Callista L. Gingrich, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, recently wrote about the symposium in the Global Sisters Report:

This was the third Women Religious on the Frontlines symposium the embassy has held since 2017. All of these programs have been organized in collaboration with the International Union of Superiors General, which is led by Sr. Pat Murray of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, its executive secretary, and Claretian Missionary Sr. Jolanda Kafka, its president.

Given everything that has happened in the world over the last several months, this program could not have come at a more appropriate time.
Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused vast global unemployment, poverty and food insecurity, further challenging the work of women religious.

The effects of the pandemic on the Catholic Church have been particularly damaging. Countless priests and women religious have tragically lost their lives to this terrible virus. In Italy and around the world, many faithful Catholic sisters have made the ultimate sacrifice while caring for others.

Despite harrowing losses, Catholic sisters and faith-based organizations have continued their life-saving work. They have been at the forefront of the fight against the spread of COVID-19.

These faithful sisters and their orders are defined by an abiding sense of purpose and are dedicated to aiding those most in need. They serve as lifelines for communities experiencing unprecedented hardships and as advocates for the oppressed.

We were grateful to be joined at our symposium by three remarkable sisters who spoke about the pandemic’s impact on their organizations and the communities they serve.

Sr. Stan Therese Mario Mumuni joined us from Ghana, where she is the founder of the Marian Sisters of Eucharistic Love, protecting and caring for Ghanaian “spirit children,” who are ritualistically murdered due to physical or mental disabilities.

Despite facing great and unexpected challenges resulting from the pandemic, Mumuni and her congregation continue to risk their lives to help these children. She spoke about how her sisters are working to combat the horrific human-trafficking situation in Ghana, where children are sold to fishing boats for as little as $5.

Sr. Imelda Poole of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary joined us from Tirana, Albania. A native of Great Britain, Poole helped establish the Mary Ward Loreto Foundation in 2009, an anti-trafficking nongovernmental organization in Albania. She is also the president of Religious in Europe Networking Against Trafficking and Exploitation (RENATE), which works to combat human trafficking across 31 countries in Europe.

Poole revealed that 70% to 80% of RENATE’s work has now moved online.

She described in great detail why those most impacted by the pandemic are now even more vulnerable to human trafficking and urged governments to take more legal action to combat this evil scourge.

Comboni Sr. Alicia Vacas speaks during “Women Religious on the Frontlines,” a June 23 online symposium about how women religious are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. (CNS screenshot/Facebook video)

And finally, Sr. Alicia Vacas joined us from Jerusalem, where she is the provincial superior of the Comboni Sisters. Vacas recently provided health care at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in Bergamo, Italy, where her congregation lost 10 sisters.

Vacas described the challenges faced by women religious not just in Italy, but around the world, including a lack of supplies, medical care and protective equipment. And yet, Vacas conveyed that a wonderful spirit of collaboration exists between congregations who support each other while caring for those in need.

These courageous women illustrate that even during a devastating pandemic, Catholic sisters work faithfully and tirelessly to support the most vulnerable among us.

This commentary was first published by the Global Sisters Report

Program Update: Barrack Valley, India

Program Update: Barrack Valley, India

Sr. Sherly’s program in Barrack Valley, India, was one of the SRW projects that has been fully funded.  Their efforts to eradicate child labor and human trafficking in Barrack Valley Region, Assam, India, have been challenged due to the spread of COVID in the region.

In a recent update from Sr. Sherly, we have learned that although the Sisters continue do their usual work and activities as they keep up with state government rules, the return of the migrants back to the village is causing a rise in COVID cases. People have lost their jobs and with no educational institutions open, there are no new opportunities for new jobs.  This will certainly lead to an increase in child marriages and human trafficking cases. The Sisters are constantly bringing awareness of these dire situations to the people in the village, especially the families and children that come to them.  They are grateful for the ALIGHT materials that have come in different languages which helps spread awareness throughout the entire community.

They are trying to stay connected to all those who have dropped out from the village and have lost the opportunity for further study.  In collaboration with National Open Schooling, the Sisters are coaching those who have dropped out so they can “write class 10th matric exam” which, when they pass, allows students to go to any college to further their education.  They are also planning livelihood programs such as organic farming, carpentry, electrical work, training, tailoring, and other skills–this is especially helpful for the migrants who have returned.

As is the case in Barrack Valley, the spread of COVID is causing a rise in human trafficking in many global communities and SRW programs focused on this effort need your help now.  See which programs are still in need of funding here or visit our donation page to join the SRW movement today.

 

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