Sweet Spring of Flowing Water

Anwule, Nigera — Living mission in the rural area can be likened to a sweet spring because of the serenity of the lives of the people, the smiles on their faces in spite of their great struggles, their willingness to share from the little they have, the joy they radiate even while living in thatch houses, their spirit of contentment in spite of the insecurity some of them face at night time on rainy days and above all, the deep appreciation and support they give to one another and others who live among them. All of these are a breath of fresh air that can only be found where spring of running waters exists. In the words of Mother Theresa, “From a sweet spring flows only sweet water…..”

It’s been over a year now since SSND presence was first felt in Anwule, an interior village in Benue State, Nigeria and ever since, the sisters have been living mission joyfully with the people in the rural community where they work.

Students visiting ederly in village

The life of the sisters has been a story of a gradual growth, a slow pace and a love encounter with the people, in the rural community, to whom we minister. Ministering in the village gives them the opportunity to reach out to the aged and share life with them. They visit their homes and listen to them share their joys and challenges. Some of the elderly, especially the women, still bear the burden of raising their grandchildren of their daughters who are either single mothers or divorced. Often times, the young parent goes to marry or remarry in the cities, away from the children they had out of wedlock or from their first marriage. Thus, these children are abandoned in the village with their aged grandparents with little or no care from their real parents. Sisters reach out to those aged parents and support them in the little ways they can. It is usually a delight to listen to the words of wisdom and encouragement from them.

Teacher sharing knowledge with students

At school, we have gone through the phase of having our pupils learn to speak English to a phase where the pupils can now understand as well as speak English. The challenge has been that after holidays, we often go through the rigor of helping mostly the younger pupil's recall the English they learnt the previous term. This happens because they have little or no interaction in English at home.

Amazingly, we have graduated our first set of pupils and the three best graduating pupils were offered scholarship by a kind individual who wanted the pupils to study in the city and experience life beyond their rural community.

Pupils are being guided to choose their future career through the career day seminar organized by the school. During the seminar, some students who have been prepared by teachers act out these various professions to their fellow students. This, too, is an amazing shift for the pupils.

Children sorting through toys with teacher

Ministering to the children in the Sunday school of our mission has also been a delight. Here the sisters get to work with all the children in the village whose parents are Catholic. Sunday school is usually a time to learn Bible stories, songs, memory verses, and church doctrines. Children who could remember memory verses and answer questions correctly base on the bible story learnt the previous Sunday usually get a rosary for a gift. This has greatly motivated their learning. In the beginning, someone had to interpret to the children in the local Language but as time went by, there was no need for an interpreter since the children could now understand English. It has been a great joy for sisters teaching the children in the Sunday school.

The experience of sisters has indeed been like a sweet spring of ministering to children, the young and the aged in the rural community. What more could have been better than to see the smiles on the faces of these people? Together and with the blessings of God they believe that the transformative education that is taking place among the people will take root and bear abundant fruits.

 

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