A Reflection on a Three-Day Workshop for Tanzania Catholic Association of Sisters
“What is burning in your heart after these days?” asked one AFJN team member following the meeting of some seventy plus TCAS (Tanzania Catholic Association of Sisters) gathered for their annual meeting in Dar es Salaam Tanzania.
“Well, just about everything!” was my reply.
First that the variety and experience of Women Religious continues to promote and support crucial Peace and Justice issues here; secondly, that we were gifted with such highly trained presenters: Rev. Aniedi Okure, OP, Executive Director of Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN) in Washington D.C.; Sister Eucharia Madueke, SNDdeN from Nigeria who is the Coordinator of African Woman Project at AFJN; Rev. Barthelemy Bazemo, MAfr from Burkino Faso and a Policy Analyst at AFJN, and Mr. Denis Mpagaze, a Tanzanian journalist and lecturer at St. Augustine’s University, Mwanza.
We covered topics such as Catholic Social Teachings, Laudato Si -Pope Francis’s Encyclical gem that has energized the world with its prophetic insights, and the on the “ground of Tanzanian topics” of child Protection and land grabbing.
It seems Tanzania, among other countries, attracts the attention of certain multinational corporations who assume bigger is better! Soon we can see many available lands are taken for large scale farming where they are often using Genetically Modified (GMO) seeds.
Such seeds are somehow sold secretly to those working on the large farms (a practice that is contrary to cultural values of Tanzanian farming community where it is just natural for farmers to share their seeds and advice). Recent studies have shown that some of these GMOs are causing unfavorable physical reactions for the growers and users in various villages. These circumstances have been documented and have received attention from the president’s offices.
Another questionable practice used on these large scale farms is mono-cropping, a practice known “to tire” the soil, for future crops and creating a dependency of the company.
Child protection is also seen as an ever important priority involving all levels of the society. As Sisters minister in a variety of social service settings, they are eager to support this effort of being present to the most vulnerable.
Most importantly we got that push to go forward with a committee that stretches throughout the country’s network of regions to begin to set a course of action, developing individual programs, reporting and hopefully look forward to the upcoming results.
What more can you ask for in order to translate ideas, convictions, and plans into concrete realities? That is Pentecostal fire that brings joy to the heart of committed Christians.
Perhaps the last encouraging words,” We are all messengers! Love your people! Protect them! Speak up for them! Remember what St. Catherine of Siena said centuries ago: “Let us cry out as with a million voices for it is silence that kills the world!” Such messages have the strength, grace, and urgency to keep the faith and commitment fires burning!
Sr. Marguerite Wolf
Sisters of St. Francis of Penance and Christian Charity