The mission of the Little Sisters at Mpasa- Kinshasa
“I have seen the poverty of my people”
It is now two years since we have been settled in the district of Mpasa, a suburb of the town of Kinshasa. Today, we have the joy of sharing with you our experience and the discoveries we have made in this new reality. Many doors have since opened, and we would like to call up for you three of those realities: reading and writing / Cutting out and Sewing, the Friday group of children and the life with the Christians of the district.
Alphabetisation / Cutting Out and Sewing
After a time of discernment and of prayer, given the realities and the needs of our district, with the St Matthew parish and the Claritan Fathers we began a centre for Alphabetisation / Cutting Out and Sewing, in February 2019. The activities are carried out four times a week, each Monday and Wednesday for the Alphabetization; the Tuesday and the Friday and the cutting out and sewing.
Some sixty women, young people, adolescents, mothers of families are pleased and joyful to learn some little skill to begin with. A skill that gives them what is necessary to keep their families to live as the practise it at home. When the assessment was made at the end of the year, they expressed their joy at meeting together and of sharing with us, their teachers, that daily presence, the mutual welcome, the patience, the availability and the listening that we can live out in their midst.
Here are some expressions that warmed our heart during the assessment in June 2019. For the alphabetization, a mother said: “Before, I did not understand when my children used to say: “our house”, “your father”, “your family” …..”Now, I have learned, I understand and I also can say it.” Another said: “Me, what I have learned is to recognise in the sentences: the verbs, the subjects…
For the Cutting out and Sewing a woman said: “Before, I used to go to the dressmakers to sew the dresses for the house; even for sewing on a button I had to ask others ….. Now, I know how to do it myself, since I have learned how to hold a needle, it is different, I can sew by hand, that helps me a lot for my family and other things in the house. I no longer have to go to pay somebody outside to sew or repair our clothes …”
For us, Little Sisters, we are trying to share our knowledge and be present to the cries of the people who are around us. With are having the experience with these women, of believing that another world is possible, as the Rule of Life invites us to live it.
The life with the Christians of the district.
Our community is wide open to share with our brothers and sisters of the neighbourhood the joys and the worries of the families. Our happiness is to have been warmly welcomed by them all as “Little Sisters ” thanks to our way of life that invites proximity. “We have already been with other religious sisters… ” they said, “…but we are marked by your simplicity, the joy, the listening, the welcome you have for us”.
Soon we started sharing our faith through God’s Word at the CEVB (Basic and living church community) and celebrating Eucharist once a week in our chapel. There are more than 30 Christians in our district who regularly join us, children, young people, adults, even our “kokos” (grandparents). The two closest parishes being far from our district, they like to have at least one mass during the week very close to their house. Some like to be there 15 minutes earlier for their personal meditations.
A group pf children
Every Friday afternoon, we have a group of children from 5 to 12 years old, who have called themselves “the Glory of Heaven”. This group was first created at the request of children from the CEVB but then they asked their friends and neighbours to join in, without distinction of religion. Today, more than 100 children have already taken part several times in the activities.
When they read stories of children coming from other parts of the world, they discover the reality of other countries, which helps them to be aware of and explore how to face their living conditions here in DRC. These changes give them the courage to confirm their rights and duties in the family and in society. When we bumped into Joël, Moise and Ketia in the street with their water can on the top of their head, Joël joyfully pointed to us: “Do you see, sister, how I’m helping out my family!”
These moments with them every Friday have given us the opportunity to discern new suggestions in community and to live a summer camp during the holidays. Given the large number of children, three groups were created and each group took the name of a saint. On the basis of a chosen theme – “integral ecology” – we have been working with the staff (8 aspirant men and women, a young from the CBB and Little Sisters). There was a new subtopic for each day. Day 1: environmental care and general safeguarding; Day 2: body care, knowing myself and my environment; Day 3: Spiritual life and the Church; Day 4: Education, rights and duties of children, and protecting Creation; Day 5: assessment and closing party..
The mornings were made of the opening prayer, discovering the theme and sharing in age group, a time to play, to dance and to do craft activities. We lived all this in a mutual sharing between the children the staff. Together they have brought about more fraternity within and between the families of the neighbourhood.
In the moments of feedback with the staff, they have expressed their joy of having lived a beautiful experience with the children, and above all of having the opportunity to develop their open-mindedness with the Little Sisters. Emmanuel said at the end: “I did not know how or where to start… but afterwards, I felt capable and responsible in the midst of the children. I have learned a lot with them, this is a great joy for me, thanks for this opportunity”.
The Little Sisters of the Assumtion at Mpasa Community