By Br. Alfonce Kugwa
The Missionary Sisters of Charity this year celebrate 25 years of service in Zimbabwe. The sisters arrived in the country on 4 October 1993 and settled in the Adburne area close to Mbare in Harare. Though very few in number, the sisters popularly known as “Sisters of Mother Theresa” have accomplished great works in communities around Mbare where they take care of elderly people living in difficult conditions.
The House Superior of the Community, Sr. Charbel Marie MC said their charism is to take care of disadvantaged people who are either neglected by their families or who find themselves in similar conditions. The Sisters now own Mother Theresa Home which they use to house destitute men and women picked in Mbare and its surrounding areas to give them shelter, food and dignity.
“Our purpose of coming to Zimbabwe is to take care of the poorest of the poor who have no one to care for them. We care for them materially as well as spiritually. Most of these people are destitutes whom we identify or come to us through social welfare. We realise that some elderly people are neglected by their families forcing them to become street fathers or mothers. Our mission is to help them realise their worthy through restoration of their dignity by giving them a home,” Said Sr. Charbel.
Sr. Charbel stated that some of the inmates at Mother Theresa’s Home were people living with HIV while others were TB patients including other social cases and the Sisters proudly help them to get treatment and have a decent life.
The Sisters are also involved in community structures through their engagement with families fostering family unions and spiritual reactivation to families living in difficult conditions and to those in extreme poverty. It is during this exercise that they identify those who are most in need of material and emotional support and take them to Mother Theresa’s Home for extra care.
“We are assisting 100 families with food stuffs especially those identified during family visits and those found to be in extreme conditions are taken to Mother Theresa’s Home,” she said.
As part of their pastoral work, the sisters do consecration of families to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and teach catechism at St. Peter Claver and St. Antony respectively.
Children are also dear to the Missionary Sisters of Charity as they take time to visit and share not only material things but the Word of God with them especially in the informal settlement of Waterfalls where they teach them basic Christian values.
Sr. Charbel said: “We have an option for children and we take time to share the Word of God with children in the informal settlement of Waterfalls. We teach them basics in Christian life and how to coexist with other people especially in a world that is becoming more and more materialistic with individualism taking center stage.”
The sisters are making silent but significant strides in improving people’s lives and Zimbabwe is home for them because there is work for them to do. Like all religious and priests the sisters do not choose where to go but are assigned on a mission and for those who found themselves in this country, they have to enjoy it.
She said: “We don’t choose where we go but we are sent. The sisters like being here because there is work to be done.”
Currently, Mother Theresa’s Home hosts 34 elderly people of which 14 are men and 20 are women. According to Sr. Charbel some of them have been staying there for more than 18 years.
Five Sisters make up the Missionary Sisters of Charity community Zimbabwe and these include the House Superior, Sr. Charbel Marie MC from South Africa, Sr. Maria Vikashini MC, Sr. Rajani Therese MC, Sr. Maria Eucharistia MC from India and Sr. Maria Anciarita MC from Kenya. The congregation which has 5167 active and contemplative sisters world-wide has 760 houses in 139 countries and 17 of them are found in Southern Africa. The Sisters have a fourth vow of whole hearted and free service to the poorest of the poor. The Sister will on 6 October 2018 celebrate their 25th anniversary of presence in Zimbabwe at Mother Theresa’s Home. Archbishop Robert Ndlovu is expected to grace the occasion.