August 20, 2021
By: Lydia Andrews

The Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) Women’s Empowerment Project (WEP) was hard at works this past week Tanzania. After a year of online workshops, AFJN’s WEP Program Coordinator Sr. Eucharia Madueke, SNDdeN was back on the continent working along side Sr. Adorata Kapinga, OSB, the Executive Secretary for the Tanzanian Association of Catholic Sisters (TCAS), coordinating the religious sisters Education and Advocacy Workshops. AFJN Board Member, Fr. Barthelemy Bazemo M.Afr. and former AFJN Executive Director, Rev. Aniedi Okure, OP also presented during these workshops.

View of the mountains on the way to Dodoma, Tanzania.

After a grueling 13-hour journey to Dodoma, Tanzania, the party thanked God for safe travels and were greeted by a warm welcome from the owners of the facility where the workshops are being held. There was little time for rest as they needed to finalize the plans for the workshops.

About 100 Catholic religious sisters participated in the Education and Advocacy Workshops, some of them made a journey of 2-3 days from their homes. After sharing a meal and Celebrating Mass, the sisters began the workshops by discussing ways they can be witnesses of the faith in the public square. The sisters affirmed that human trafficking, domestic violence, and child labor are public evils that need to be stopped and they affirmed their duty to be a public voice against these and all evils.

“This seminar opened my eyes to the evil of human trafficking and how some of us might have unknowingly contributed to it by not decisively acting on it. I am now more equipped to fight this evil practice in our society. Thank you for bringing this knowledge to us. It was timely and relevant to our ministry. We are grateful for your help. “

A sister participant

One of the Catholic sisters’ first advocacy training was paying a visit to the Tanzanian Minister of Home Affairs and asking the Minister to use his authority to ensure that both Tanzanians and immigrants in the country are protected from human traffickers. The sisters also called for a government forum to educate the wider society, given the general lack of awareness.

“We saw the power of the Catholic sisters as advocates” said Sr. Eucharia. “During the meeting the Minister acknowledged loopholes in the nation’s anti-trafficking law and he promised to push the request of the sisters to the national agenda.”

The Minister also shared with the sisters his anti-trafficking plans, promising to incorporate the sisters’ suggestions into his plans. The sisters were very happy with the outcome of their advocacy meeting with the Minister and many sisters were given the opportunity to speak directly to the Minister while photos were taken.

“When I first heard about the theme of human trafficking, I thought it was about the way the police handle people in the streets. I was completely mistaken. Now I know it is something sinister, dehumanizing that needs to be fought against with the full force of the law. People who benefit from this hideous undercover practice should face jail sentences.”

A sister participant

The sisters also engaged the Tanzanian District Police Officers in a heated debate about the need for more just penalties for convicted traffickers as the current fines do not act as a sufficient deterrent and they are not equal to the crimes committed. The sisters also advocated for monies ceased by the police to be given to the victim-survivors to that they can obtain skills and rebuild their lives and heal.

Sr. Eucharia has been coordinating WEP projects with religious sister in Africa through grants from the Conrad Hilton Foundation, the Shalom Fund from the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Base Communities Empowerment Fund in addition to the support from AFJN Organizational and Individual Members.

Sisters from the following congregations sent representatives:

  • Sisters of St.Charles Borromeo SCB
  • Salvatorian Sisters
  • African Benedictine Sisters Ndanda
  • Sisters of Our Lady of Kilimanjaro (CDNK)
  • Mabinti wa Maria Tabora ( Daughters of Mary )
  • Sisters of St. Ann, Luzern
  • Franciscan Sisters
  • Holy Cross Sisters
  • Sisters of the Company of Mary our Lady
  • Passinist Sisters
  • Augustinian Sisters of St. Victor (CRV)
  • Sisters of St. Vincent – Mbinga
  • Dada wadogo
  • St. Maria Goretti Sisters
  • Bene – Terezia Sisters
  • Gemma  Sisters
  • Orantes of the Assumption Sisters
  • Congregation of the Mary Immaculate Sisters
  • Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Borromeo
  • Ursulines of Mary Immaculat
  • Wafrancisco wa Mt. Bernadette
  • Benedictine Sisters of St. Agnes Chipole
  • Misericordia Sisters
  • OLA
  • Daughters of Mary of Saint Denis
  • Carmelite Missionary Sisters of St. Therese of the Child of Jesus
  • Masista wa Mama Mkombozi Mbulu
  • Holy Union Sisters
  • Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother
  • Masista wa Mtakatifu Yosefu ya Chambery
  • Sisters of Our Lady of Good Cousel (OLGC)
  • Nazareth Sisters of the Annunciation
  • Collegine Sisters
  • Congregation of Our Lady of Usambara (COLU)
  • Franciscan sister Mahenge
  • Carmel Sister
  • Grail sisters
  • Sisters of Charity of St. Charles Boromeus
  • Moyo safi wa Maria
  • Visitation Sisters
  • Shirika la Charles Borromeo
  • CST Iringa
  • Bene Maria Sisters
  • Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA)
  • Masista wa Moyo Safi wa Maria Morogoro
  • Ursuline Sisters of Agonizing Heart of Jesus
  • Evangelizing Sisters of Mary
  • Dada wadogo Dar es Salaam
  • The Apostles of Unlimited Love Sisters
  • Sisters of St. Therese
  • Shirika la moyo wa Mt. wa Yesu na Maria
  • Masista Wadada Wadogo – Same
  • Catechist  Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians
  • Masista wa Huruma wa Pendo la Mt. Vincent wa Paulo
  • Daughters of Our Lady of Perpetual
  • Adorers of the Blood of Christ
  • Tutzing Ndanda