Investing in ASEC Alumnae Projects Through ASLA

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Caroline Nanyi Acha, SST, ASLA recipient in Cameroon.

African Sisters: Leaders In Action (ASLA) investment in alumnae projects has allowed ASEC Alumnae Sr. Caroline Nanyi Acha, SST, Sr. Sophia Agnes Asiimwe, MSMMC, and Sr. Mathabo Jacintha Sefali, SCIM to make an impact in their communities.

ASEC is dedicated to its mission to facilitate access to education for women religious in the 10 African countries it serves. Alumnae take the skills and knowledge they gain through ASEC programs and work to improve the lives of the people in their communities. ASEC is continuously looking for ways to support alumnae of its programs and was excited to aid in the implementation of an initiative that would provide funding for projects designed by graduates.

In 2021, a new endeavor was launched, African Sisters: Leaders in Action (ASLA). This grant-making initiative began at the request of an anonymous donor who wished to support women religious in Africa. In collaboration with the National Catholic Community Foundation (NCCF), ASLA funds ASEC alumnae project proposals that demonstrate a high propensity to positively impact human development. In order to be considered for a grant, an ASEC alum must submit a proposal outlining the work she hopes to do, as well as a proposed budget. A panel then reviews the submissions, and awards grants of up to $10,000 to selected projects. ASLA is particularly interested in projects that serve the most impoverished areas, aim to have a transformative impact on individuals and communities, and show an element of social entrepreneurship. 

Between 2021 and 2022, 20 ASLA grants were awarded throughout the 10 countries ASEC serves, supporting initiatives that seek to help others in a variety of ways. Three of these awards are highlighted here: Sr. Caroline Nanyi Acha of the Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus of Buea (SST) from Cameroon, Sr. Sophia Agnes Asiimwe of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church (MSMMC) from Uganda, and Sr. Mathabo Jacintha Sefali of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (SCIM) from Lesotho. Each is a graduate of ASEC’s Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI), having participated in workshops related to Basic Technology and Administration or Finance, gaining skills that they utilized from writing their initial proposals to planning and executing their visions.

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Sr. Caroline’s project works to reduce recidivism and crime by creating jobs for ex-prisoners in Cameroon. The ASLA funding she received was used to purchase equipment to set up a business customizing merchandise. As she describes it in her report, the ex-prisoners were employed to sell “customized t-shirts, pens, cups to schools, hospitals, individuals and for celebrations like birthday parties, memorial and death celebrations.” The benefits to the individuals were clear. She explains, “This project gives opportunities for our inmates and ex-inmates to be creative and self-employed.” Through her training with ASEC, Sr. Caroline was able to develop, evaluate, and enact a strong strategic plan to implement an enterprise that benefits the entire community.

In Uganda, Sr. Sophia and her colleagues sought to find ways to help vulnerable young mothers and youths. The ASLA funding she received was used to provide financial skills training to a cohort of 20 young women and their children, helping them achieve financial independence. Sr. Sophia found that the Administration Workshops she attended through ASEC helped her greatly in teaching her the skills to write project proposals and reports, as well as effective record-keeping, and other important leadership tasks.

Finally, Sr. Mathabo’s work centered around securing lighting for night classes at the Good Shepherd Sisters Night School in Lesotho, after the local light system was shut off every evening. The ASLA funding was used to install solar panels at the school, generating power to run the school’s light sources. Like Sr. Caroline and Sr. Sophia, Sr. Mathabo credits the trainings she received through SLDI as fundamental in helping her to have the confidence and the ability to organize and implement her vision in aid of her community.

These are just three of the many, varied initiatives that SLDI alumnae are undertaking as they use the skills and knowledge gained through their training and go out to serve their communities. The ASLA partnership is an invaluable resource that has already had a positive impact in the world and will continue to do so as more women religious in Africa are able to design and implement projects to enact change at the grassroots level.

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Communities across Africa are counting on Catholic Sisters, but 71% lack the education needed to carry out their important mission work. You can be a Ray of Hope for a Sister who needs you by donating to her education today.

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

Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all

Sr. Caroline Acha, SST
Profiled in article
SLDI Alumna, Administration Track, 2015 - Cameroon  

Sr. Sophia Agnes Asiimwe, MSMMC
Profiled in article - Uganda  

Sr. Mathabo Jacintha Sefali, SCIM
Profiled in article - Lesotho  

Sarah Martin, PhD
Program Coordinator, Programs  

Megan P. Wescott, BBA

Megan P. Wescott, BBA
Digital & Social Media Specialist, Mission Advancement  

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