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Regional Leader: Sister Bernadette Ezeabasili
Holy Rosary Sisters, PO Box 1296, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa
Telephone: 00232 7685 9282
Vocation Directress: Sister Antonia Ezeibekwe. Telephone: 00232 7858 5450
also: Sister Ngozi Nnabuo 00232 7637 6015 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Holy Rosary Sisters in Sierra Leone
Regional headquarters: Holy Rosary Convent, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa
Holy Rosary Secondary School, Kenema, celebrated the golden jubilee of it foundation, while Holy Rosary School, Bo, celebrated Diamond! These were great occasions for the coming together of many, many past students, and rejoicing of the present students as they vie to imitate and surpass the achievements of their mothers and grandmothers.
President Julius Maada Bio’s visit was a historic occasion and the school band did us proud at the welcome ceremony.
The students were happy to display their new Girls’ Hostel, a safe and comfortable place where the girls are accommodated during term time.
Awareness campaigns continue in schools, families, and districts, on girls’ right to complete their education, and on discouraging the high rate of teen-age pregnancies.
Women’s empowerment is best illustrated in Kpatema in the six community- based women’s groups, working for sustainable agriculture and self-reliance, and in the women’s bakery in Freetown.
Holy Rosary Peace and Counselling Centre, Bo
Our aim is to empower vulnerable girls and women to realize their human dignity and facilitate change, self-reliance and sustainability in families and communities. This year, 2015, 113 girls are receiving training in tailoring, hair-dressing, catering, auto-mechanics and welding, as well as counselling, and several have returned to formal education. We maintain links with their families while they are training. We also conduct workshops and counselling in communities, and provide support for 43 girls towards their accommodation and medical needs.
We also work to provide opportunities for healing and reconciliation for war-affected young men and women and restore personal integrity and mutual trust. We offer on-going youth development training to 94 youth at week-ends, and have held 10 workshops in communities since the Ebola outbreak was contained. Mediation, advocacy, home visitation and regular monitoring are built into our service. We work in close co-operation with out Donors, BZM and Missio, whose support is highly appreciated.
The Pastoral Centre in Bo has also opened its radio station “Sermon on the Mount Radio” which is extremely helpful for the purpose of evangelisation and also spreading the news about girls’ education.
Trauma healing is still required as people build up strength to carry on after the tragedies of the recent years. Sister Elizabeth Onwuama accepted an award on behalf of the sisters for their contribution during the ebola epidemic.
Students also prepared for the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist and we rejoice with them as they grow in faith.
We thank all our supporters, here in Sierra Leone and overseas, and pray for God’s continued blessing on all of you. You are, as always, part of our Mission.
This report seeks to give an account of the responses implemented by the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary (MSHR) in Sierra Leone to the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic, based on qualitative data from interviews with survivors and extensive focus group discussions with the Sisters who led their organisation’s response.
As the crisis unfolded during 2014 and 2015, the Sisters took action in the various settings in which they worked: their two girls’ secondary schools in Bo and Kenema, their counselling centre and pastoral centre, and additional outreach work carried out in rural communities and in liaison with other agencies such as local hospitals and health centres. Much of this work was concerned with countering false rumours and beliefs about Ebola with correct information and guidance on how to limit its spread and look after those affected. Another part of the work was the giving of practical help, such as cleaning and hygiene materials, and also food to those most in need. Finally an important element was psychosocial counselling to help people who had lost family members overcome fear and desperation and rebuild hope for the future. The findings suggest that the various strategies used by the Sisters were effective because of the way they all contributed to an integrated approach. Their work to change attitudes and question false rumours linked with their work to provide correct information and practical advice. Both of these contributed to changes in behaviour and practices, which were in turn helped by the provision of hygiene equipment and cleaning materials. Meanwhile early detection led to increased chances of survival for those suffering from Ebola. Practical material support to families while in quarantine, and psychosocial support and counselling, helped them and their families find ways through the ordeal.
The Missionary Sisters’ approach thus embodies many of the key characteristic of the Missionary Approach to development as understood by Misean Cara, particularly the long-term commitment of the Missionary Sisters to the communities in which they lived and worked, leading to sensitive and effective interventions; the holistic approach that valued the whole person and their intrinsic human dignity; and the cultivation of spiritual and psychosocial resilience to help people overcome crises in their communities. Although this study considered just one context-specific response to the Ebola crisis, many of the lessons learnt can be effectively put to use in other emergency or humanitarian crisis situations.
The full report can be read on www.mshr.org under DEVELOPMMENT.
Copyright Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary
AWARD TO HOLY ROSARY SISTERS FREETOWN (RE – EBOLA WORK)
By Sr. Elizabeth (Liz) N. Onwuama
In Sierra Leone, since Ebola epidemic ended, the 8th of June each year is celebrated as the commemoration of the Ebola Survivors’ Day. This is because it was the date in 2015 the first Ebola survivor person was recorded. On the 8th of June this year (2017), it was celebrated in Prot Loko, in the Northern Province and Certificates were awarded to individuals and organizations who helped in various ways during the Ebola crisis. I was also there to receive a certificate of merit on behalf of the Holy Rosary Sisters, Freetown, which read: “Certificate of Merit presented by; The Sierra Leone Association of Ebola Survivors To Holy Rosary Sisters Freetown In Recognition of your Excellent Support in the Fight Against Ebola and Reintegrating Ebola Survivors into their Communities”.
Among those distributing the Certificates were:
I thank God for the award. For me, I will say I received the award not only on behalf of the Holy Rosary Sisters in Freetown. But, firstly for all our Sisters in Sierra Leone then. It was a very difficult time for us to take such challenging risk to remain in the country to help our people but we did so at the expense of our lives. Secondly, for the Holy Rosary Sisters in the Congregation for their tremendous Spiritual and Financial support. The candles you lighted praying for us and your family, community and Parish fund raising for, as well as individual donations to our Region did not go in vain. Tanki yu! (Thank You).
It is true that, Ebola is now a History of the past but the survivors still need to be taken care of especially medical wise and other aspects that will help them rebuild their lives. …………………………………………………………….
Holy Rosary Sisters first came to Sierra Leone in 1948 at the invitation of Bishop Ambrose Kelly CSSp, then bishop of Freetown and Bo. Their mission was, in the light of the gospel, to bring education especially to women, and to provide health care, to mothers and children and the population in general. They did this in Freetown, Kenema, Bo, Pujehun and further afield, living and working peacefully with both Christians and Muslims.
Between 1991 and 2002 the country was engulfed in civil war. The hospitals and schools became targets of attack and some had to be vacated. Thousands of people lost their lives and hundreds of thousands were forced from their homes and became refugees in Guinea. Holy Rosary sisters moved with the refugees. (See mshr.org page on Liberia, under Regions)
When the war came to an end and the sisters returned with the people, there began the long task of building life anew. Schools and hospitals were reopened and slowly rebuilt. There was great need for Counselling, Trauma Release and Healing Management, and for skills training for young women who had lost out on education, to help them earn their living.
In 2014 another calamity befell the country with the outbreak of Ebola.
“This laid a very heavy toll on us,” the sisters report, “with so many precious lives lost. For safety reasons all burials are now done in the Ebola way. Whether one dies of Ebola or not, one is buried by the Ebola Team. This can be very traumatic, as we all like to give our dear ones a befitting burial. The government declared a state of emergency and quarantined the whole country to help check the spread of the disease. As a result, prices of food and commodities soared. We were able to help by supplying food to communities that were cut off. The death of many medical personnel left us more shattered as the hospitals became understaffed. The international community responded by sending medical volunteers: we thank them, and also our sisters, friends and supporters, for their unwavering prayer, care and support. This had helped a great deal to make easy our option to stay with the people in difficult times, and to bring relief and comfort to those affected by the disease.”