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In January 2009, Sister Jackie Goodin, CSJ, embarked on a physical and spiritual journey to Songea, a small rural town in southwest Tanzania, an East African country. She ministers at St. Joseph Hostel, a residence for girls and teenagers sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery. The Hostel provides a safe and caring environment which allows the girls to complete their high school education in town. She works alongside other Sisters of St. Joseph caring for the girls’ day-to-day needs. SISTER JACKIE's BLOGMay, 2013
In April and May, as I traveled “home” (well, to my first home in US — Tanzania being my second home). Of course I visited with many Sisters, Associates, and friends of St. Joseph Hostel. Everyone wanted to know “How are your girls?” “What do they need?” “How can I help?” “Who is taking care of the girls while you are away?” So, I know there is a great deal of love moving across the globe, from many communities in the USA to a small town in southwestern Tanzania.
|Sister Jackie with theology students at Saint Joseph Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, April 18, 2013. |
But you may not know how much the girls love YOU—though they know not your names or exactly where your home is located on a map—their love is real and palpable. They are so very grateful for all the ways you help them.
They wrote and presented to me the night before my departure a lovely hand-drawn booklet wishing me safe travels. My tears flowed. Each girl wrote a letter to me and every one expressed in her sweet personal way overflowing gratitude to all who make their education a reality. Let the girls speak directly to your heart, as they do to mine:
|Sister Jackie presents at a breakfast fundraiser at St. Joseph Center in Cleveland, May 9, 2013.|
“Thank you for helping us. You make us to be good students and have good behavior. We all say Thank You for giving us a good life.” Avelina (age 16)Don’t you just want to love the girls right back, right now? And here is one simple way you can love them: Please pray for the girls who will be taking their National Examinations later this year. They need to know that you remember them every day in your prayers.
“I don’t know you, but I want to say thank you for giving us this opportunity. God bless all Sisters. I am studying hard. I want to pass all my examinations.” Mesta (age 14)
“I want to say Thanks for helping our Hostel, for helping our studying. We don’t have a gift, only God will give you a gift. We pray to God to bless you. I like the life of the Hostel.” Shamira (age 16)
“I am very happy to say Thank You for helping us young girls of Tanzania to live here in the Hostel. I would like to greet you all through this letter. Here in the Hostel we live in peace and harmony. I welcome you to Tanzania—it is a good place.” Anita (age 16)
“I want to say Thank You for many things you have done for us girls who study at St. Joseph Hostel. We have a library which has different books—like story books, school books, Bibles, and other books. So I want to pray for your work and you pray for us in our studies.” Joyce (age 16)
“I don’t have many things to say but I want to say Thank You for helping me because I know many things come from you, like computers, garden activities, how to pray and how to study. Thank you so much.” Imani (age 18)
“I don’t have any thing to give you but I promise, my Sisters, I will not forget to pray for you. I don’t know to write English but I try to write and speak English.” Rosemary (age 16)
“God will be in front of you and the angels will be behind you.” Upendo (age 13)
“Fish love water, cats love milk, and me love you.” Diana (age 13)
These examinations are difficult—not only because of the subject matter but because it requires that students have ability to read and understand the instructions and questions which are in English. These examinations are critical in determining a student’s future. As you may remember from previous blogs, students can only move forward in their education if they pass these examinations at the end of grade 7 of elementary school and years 2 and 4 of secondary school. We Hostel Sisters work hard every day to encourage the girls to hold their dreams foremost in their minds as they turn their minds and bodies for extended periods of study.
Here are girls we ask you to pray for:
|Year 4 |
You know they will be praying for you!
Until next month,
If you would like to learn ways you can help Sister Jackie's girls, contact Pat Milenius at 216.252.0440, or firstname.lastname@example.org.