COVID-19 updates from ASEC

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Young boys in Lesotho receive handmade masks and attend a COVID-19 prevention workshop facilitated by Sr. Theresia Noko, SCO. Sr. Theresia is an alumna of ASEC's SLDI program.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic it is important that we reach out to ASEC partners, supporters and beneficiaries to communicate our deep care and support.

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Your health and safety is of utmost concern for our organization. As the COVID-19 situation rapidly evolves, we are taking steps to protect and uphold our internal team, our external partners and surrounding communities.

COVID-19 Impact in Africa

Sisters from ASEC programs have been sharing their experiences regarding the COVID-19 pandemic across ten countries in Africa we serve. Here are some of their stories:

Read more: Sisters are reaching out to the poor and vulnerable communities of Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic

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An in-person SLDI Finance workshop recently took place in Nigeria. However, in some countries, workshops and other ASEC events remain virtual.

An in-person SLDI Finance workshop recently took place in Nigeria. However, in some countries, workshops and other ASEC events remain virtual.

Events and program delivery

In close coordination with our partners, supporters and beneficiaries, we have converted events, where possible, to virtual operations. We will also be postponing in-person events across the US and Africa as the situation unfolds.

  • Due to COVID-19, all US ASEC partner institutions for Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) and the Scholarship program have closed by government order.
  • Universities in the US are expected to open in August, 2020. However, orientation for online/onsite track HESA sisters has been postponed until January, 2021.
  • Universities in Africa are working to implement online classes for higher education students. In addition, some universities in Africa are slowly opening up with precautions in place. Many partner colleges and universities are postponing the upcoming fall semester to January, 2021.
  • Many in-person events and workshops are taking place as online virtual meetings. Some workshops are able to be held in person.
  • If you are a participant in ASEC's HESA or SLDI programs, please consult with your in-country staff for the most up-to-date and accurate information.

Our staff and partners on the ground in Africa will continue to monitor the situation and relay government recommendations to the US office. We look forward to working collaboratively online in the weeks to come and at in-person events once this health threat has passed.

Remote Staff

Beginning March 19, 2020, our staff in both US and Africa have been encouraged to work from home, cancel work-related travel and transition to virtual meetings. These recommendations are in place through January 2021, at which time we will review workplace and community safety recommendations from public health officials. Mailings and communications may be delayed as a result of this situation, so we appreciate your patience as we navigate this uncharted territory.

Our staff are currently working our usual hours and can be reached most easily by email. Contact information can be found on the Our Team page.

Sisters in Africa united in prayer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sisters in Africa united in prayer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

United in Prayer

We at ASEC are united with the world in prayer; for the safety of all humanity and for all those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sisters in Africa continue to pray, especially for our partners and supporters.

Above, clockwise from top left:

  • SNDdeN sisters praying stations of the cross in Nigeria
  • Prayers from the Sisters of St. Ann in Cameroon
  • Sisters pray the rosary in Kenya
  • Sisters of St. Ann in Cameroon pray for the protection of our benefactors
  • Holy Family Sisters of Bordeaux at St Monica's in Lesotho
  • HESA students Kenya in prayer and solidarity

More prayer messages and photos can be viewed on ASEC's Facebook page.
Video prayers from Sisters in Africa can be watched on ASEC's YouTube channel.

Local Community Outreach

Several members of ASEC US staff are volunteering with Friends of the Poor to distribute food to the hungry in our community during COVID-19. To date, Friends of the Poor has fed over 60,000 people in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area via their "drive through" food pantry.

"Virtual" meetings are a regular occurrence for ASEC staff since we are located across 10 different countries in Africa and the US. During our April 17th meeting, staff discussed how we could deliver programs while faced with challenges of social distancing, network/internet connectivity issues within Africa and the varying levels of technology skills of the sisters we serve.

Solidarity Message to Local Community

Staff in the US participated in a solidarity message that was aired on WNEP-TV, the local news station in Scranton, PA, where ASEC US Headquarters is located.

Songs & signs of hope (ASEC message starts at 1:05).

In Memory of ASEC Family Lost

Unfortunately, no matter how many precautions were taken, several ASEC family members still lost their lives to this devastating pandemic. May all the faithful departed rest in eternal peace.

Mother Grace Ngu (April 11, 2020)

Mother Grace was the General Superior of the Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus of Buea (SST), which is the congregation of our ASEC Country Director in Cameroon, Sr. Clarisse Remjika Jaiwo. For women religious, losing the General Superior is similar to losing a parent. We pray for the peace of the Sisters of St. Therese during this difficult time.

Dr. Edward Ddumba (April 11, 2020)

Dr. Ddumba initiated and signed ASEC's first Frame of Reference with HESA Partner St. Francis Nsambya Hospital Training School in Kampala, Uganda. May he rest in eternal peace.

Sr. Irene Lucy Onyai, LSMIG (September 4, 2020)

Sr. Irene is from the congregation Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu (LSMIG) in Uganda. She served as the Programs Coordinator for ASEC Uganda until her passing. Sr. Irene is greatly missed by all who were blessed to know her. May she rest in eternal peace.

Rev. Fr. Dr. Dominic Kazingatchire (January, 18, 2021)

Fr. Dominic Kazingatchire served as the Liaison (point of contact) for ASEC's Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program at partner university, the Catholic University of Malawi (CUNIMA). He was also CUNIMA's Director of Academic Affairs. He passed away from COVID-19 on January 18, 2021 and is greatly missed by all who knew him. 

Sr. Joan Chisala, CSJB (June, 16, 2021)

Sr. Joan is a member of the international congregation of the Sisters of St. John the Baptist (CSJB) in Zambia. Since February, 2019, Sr. Joan has been a valued member of ASEC staff as the Programs Coordinator in Zambia where she continued to dedicate her life to advancing the education of women through ASEC’s program offerings. May she rest in eternal peace.

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We're in this together

To each one of you impacted by COVID-19, our thoughts and prayers are with you. Now is the time to lean on one another for support and resources while we navigate these difficult circumstances together. Thank you for your steadfast commitment to our communities even in times of grave challenges and rapid change.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Amy Fedele

Amy Fedele
Former ASEC Media & Communications Manager - USA  

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