The origins of the call to Africa were felt in Mother Theresa’s lifetime when slave girls were ransomed and brought to the Munich motherhouse for education. This dream was never realized in her lifetime however, due to the deaths of the young women she hoped to educate. It was not until 1970 that the first School Sisters of Notre Dame actually went to Africa . Consider this growth in Liberia, including evacuation. Sisters continued to serve for a short time in Algeria. They also served in Sierra Leone; however, the civil war there forced their evacuation. The congregation continued to grow in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana , and The Gambia . Sisters returned to Sierra Leone in November, 2006. The SSND Directory for 2006-2007 lists 16 communities, 69 Sisters, and eight novices serving in the District of Africa, discerning to become a province.
Mother Theresa’s dream of serving the people of Africa has been realized in many ways. It has been an opportunity to live her words noted in Letter #2277. “All the works of God proceed slowly and in pain: but then, their roots are sturdier and their flowering the lovelier.” The evolution and fruitfulness of SSND in Africa can be seen in the official designation in 1996 of the District of Africa. Currently the District is moving toward becoming a province.
The strength of African SSND leadership is being recognized. Consider the reflections of Joyce Kwamboka Nyakwama, SSND, who offers much hope to newer and older members throughout the congregation. Another African SSND, Anne Atieno Ogallo, reflects on her experience of the charism in relation to education for young women and what this has meant to her.
More photos available in Sturdy Roots I, “Seeds of Hope,” Photo Gallery.