Networking is the New Approach to Mission: Testimonies from Ethiopia and Nigeria
Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By The Life Panelists || 28 August 2017
Collaboration against trafficking. Speaking out on national issues. Sharing formation resources and promoting vocations.
Dinknesh Amanuel is a member of the Maids of the Poor, a secular institute in Ethiopia. She teaches Patristics and is executive secretary for the Conference of Major Religious Superiors (CMRS) in Ethiopia.
One of the challenges we religious face in promoting vocations and doing other ministries is that sometimes we communicate very little. Communication is the best way to address any issue and look for solutions. As consecrated women we need to communicate, cooperate and work together in order to be effective in our apostolate and life.
We as the Conference of Major Religious Superiors in Ethiopia try to work together, especially in the field of vocation promotion and initial formation. We have a group of sisters from various congregations for this ministry. Their main activity is to help the youth learn how to discern about their future life. The sisters give them a common understanding of vocation and teach about the love of God and preciousness of the vocation. Working in collaboration with parish priests and the pastoral coordinators of different dioceses, they create links between congregations, dioceses and parishes. Their main aim is to create awareness of a vocation as a gift of God, to help young people make proper decisions for their future, and to have love and concern for their own life and the church at large. This group is effective because the members always try to work in collaboration with the bishops and parish priests.
Networking is one of the best ways to promote vocations and other activities in the church. It makes people work together to seek the common goal. We need to work, pray and grow together.
Florence Nwaonuma is a member of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She has served as president of the Nigeria Conference of Women Religious.
Networking or collaboration is working together with others. In my work with victims of human trafficking, I had wonderful networking experiences with sisters in my religious congregation as well as with sisters from other religious congregations both inside and outside of my country. But here I will focus on my networking experiences with sisters in Nigeria.
The issue we worked on was providing support, care and services for girls and women who were victims of trafficking. When a victim would come home, the sisters in Lagos received her through collaboration with immigration officials, who would hand her over to them. The sisters then send the woman to us in Benin City. The networking has been very effective, for several reasons.
It is important to note that the sisters in the network are professionals in their own disciplines. In a way we had inter-disciplinary or inter-professional collaboration among us. The sisters brought their expertise and experiences into the network. Besides that, we were very effective because we understood our goals — and because there was adequate communication among all of us involved in the process. The focus of our networking was on the women on whose behalf we networked and not on the “egos” of the sisters.
Another factor that helped us achieve success was the provision of training programs for women religious in the country prior to our networking. The training helped the sisters who knew nothing about human trafficking to become acquainted with the issues involved. Such “capacity building” helped us to avoid conflicts and dilemmas which could occur in inter-professional collaboration of this sort.
As part of our network activities, we had time to meet and discuss our work. For instance, we had cases of women who came back but decided to stay in Lagos rather than in Benin City. We looked into what was involved, and the sisters in Lagos had to add the extra job of full reintegration to their work.
On a final note, the major reason our networking was a huge success is due to our formation as religious. Our prayer life and commitment propelled us, and networking helped us to achieve social change for the victims.
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