Every year, the Sisters go out in pairs into the most remote and deprived communities to visit with families and children who are in desperate need of education. Without the Sisters, these children would have no chance of a quality education, leaving them trapped in a cycle of poverty. This month, we are sharing the Sisters’ experiences of their community visits in Tanzania. You can read Sister Marchery’s stories from travelling to rural northern Tanzania in an earlier post.

This is Sister Bernadeth’s account of her most recent visit to the Mtwara and Songea regions in southern Tanzania, and the heart-breaking poverty and need she witnessed there.

a nun sits in a dimly lit mud home in Tanzania with two young boys
Sister Bernadeth visits a family at home

My community visit experience

“I am Sr. Bernadeth, Filipina Sister who had given a great privilege to be assigned here (in Tanzania). I am really very grateful to this mission in which I have the opportunity to look for children to be lifted up in their lives.

I went to the region of Mtwara and Songea together with Sr. Clara a Korean Sister and Sr. Marchery a Filipina Sister. We have 12 hours of travel by bus. Passing by in the road during our travel, I saw their houses made of clay and with very simple roof made of somewhat reed if I am not mistaken.

My heart was very touched whenever I saw them in their situations.  Even when we are inside the bus, I also feel compassion for other passengers, especially for the mother travelling with her sick baby who keeps on crying. Here you can see the situation of the poor people who are experiencing more hardship than you, so, any complaint has no space in your heart. That’s what I realized at that time.”

"During the house visit, one boy keeps on asking my companion sister, that he really want to study in the Sisters of Mary because they are really very poor. He likes to finish his studies so that someday he can help his family."

two nuns surrounded by a group of children outside a mud hut in Tanzania
Sisters Bernadeth and Clara with a family in their home visit

Whole communities struggling

“When we arrived in the place of Mtwara, we stayed in the Redemptionist Sisters. They offered a room for us, but that room is not free, the payment is per day. I noticed that there is no free (sic) here because they also struggle in terms of financially. We rested that night. The following day, we conducted the  meetings as well as a house visit. When we visited their houses, I was very touched seeing their situations living in a very small place together. Their house inside is very crowded because kitchen, sala, dining, bed room are one. Really they need help.

During the house visit, one boy keeps on asking my companion sister, that he really want to study in the sisters of Mary because they are really very poor. He likes to finish his studies so that someday he can help his family. Most of the houses and families of the boys who took the exam really need help.

The following day, we went to Songea. People there were very poor. When we got off the bus, many vendors approached us to buy their products to have money for their food. We also conducted meetings with the children at that place. When we had our house visit, we saw their situation poorer than the people in Mtwara. Their house is too small and things inside where mixed, their bedroom, kitchen and dining are very pity (sic) because you can also see were insect (sic) together.”

a large group of boys standing in front of a school building with two nuns in Tanzania
Sister Clara and Sister Bernadeth meet dozens of boys desperate for a free secondary education

A strong desire to help

“Seeing their situations, the more I had desire to help the poor, especially the children whom we meet having a great desire as well to finish their study. They are hungry for food for their stomach and hungry spiritually as well. Though we experience many challenges like riding in piki-piki or single motorcycle, passing in the road which is very dangerous and riding in the bus standing because full of passengers, delay eating because the store is very few and very far, I am still very happy and grateful to that wonderful experience and I will never hesitate to accept joyfully the chance if God give me schedule (sic) to go out again because that experience helps me to be more aware of those who needs help.

Thank you so much for your continued support.”

Sr. Bernadeth