Monday, August 6, 2007
If I thought the previous few days had been filled with exciting and inspiring people and stories, I had yet to meet Sister Agnes. She is a one-woman show that is Ludzi Parish. On the grounds there is a convent, secondary school, income-generating programs including micro-loans for the endeavors, and a medical mission that takes medications into villages by bicycle.
Walking through the grounds I was astounded by everything! It felt like a Garden of Eden within a parched, dry land. I sat in the sanctuary for a very long time drinking in the peaceful quiet.
But this is not a place for idle hands and nuns shut up in cells praying non-stop. They hold classes at the parish to educate men and women (but especially women) on different income-generating projects from bee farming to raising goats, rabbits, pigs to growing mushrooms. The parish also helps with micro-loans to start the business. Sister Agnes said the returns have been amazing. Nearly 100% repayment of the initial investment. Some women had done so well with their businesses, they began teaching other women in the villages. Sister Agnes says, “Let them try a little bit of everything and see what catches fire.”
As we left the parish to walk around the bordering village, we encountered a group of men that were engaged in a ceremonial tribal act to honor their new chief. They raised their weapons toward our group and thank goodness Sister Agnes could speak their language. Traditionally, they are not to be seen by anyone during this time, but they had not remained well hidden in the tall grassy areas. And traditionally, they were to kill anyone who saw them. For a few tense minutes, Sister Agnes negotiated with the men and came to an agreement. They wanted to pose for our cameras and wanted money. I was happy to oblige both demands. This had certainly been a day filled with unexpected, eye-opening events!