Professional Formation of the Sisters Appointed to the Missions Ad Gentes all over the World

Project location: WORLDWIDE, Portugal, England, France, Hong Kong, China, Bangladesh
Project start date: January 2011 - Project end date: December 2011
Project number: 2010-69
Beneficiary: Congregazione Missionarie dell’Immacolata

March 2011 Report

The Nando Peretti Foundation grant for this project is intended, in part, to cover the costs for the study of languages by the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in several countries including China, Portugal, England and so on.
To date the sisters were sent in the following countries:

Hong Kong
Sister Carmela Pamei is an Indian sister who moved to Hong Kong in December 2009 and began the study of Cantonese, the Chinese language spoken in Hong Kong, in early 2010. Belonging to an ethnic group close to Myanmar and having physical characteristics very similar to those of the Chinese people, people often spoke to her in Chinese and were surprised to hear that she did not speak Cantonese. Sister Carmela still needs at least one year of study before she can begin her work.

Sister Shinoby Thomas also comes from India. She reached Hong Kong in August 2009 and is studying Cantonese at the Hong Kong University with Sister Carmela Pamei.
Both, after completing their studies, will work with the diocesan organization for the pastoral of the sick in hospitals.

Sr. Anitha Eddula, from India, reached Hong Kong in 2006 and, after studying Cantonese, now attends a course at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to prepare to take over the School of the Congregation. This is an English secondary school and since its inception in 1969, the director was one of the sisters. At the moment, since there were no sisters available to take over the school, a lay woman was appointed as director. However, the sisters felt that for the school's policy it was better to have a sister director, therefore Sister Anitha is studying to prepare for this work.

Sister Sandra Covini is an Italian nun who was in Hong Kong for several years and has worked in hospitals as a member of the diocesan pastoral care of the sick. In view of the opening of a community in China, she was sent to study Mandarin, the national language of China. After a year in Guangzhou (Canton), she decided to move to another place near Beijing because most people in Guangzhou speak Cantonese, which made learning Mandarin more difficult. At the new office is forced to speak only Mandarin, because he lives alone, and especially in that area there are no Italians or Europeans. In the meantime, she is visiting families and has made contact with other poor people and a local association involved in the care of people with disabilities.

In 2009 the bishop of a diocese in Algeria asked the sisters to come to his diocese, just to be there, without any specific activity, only to prove Christian presence in the country.
Three sisters are already there and two others are studying French, awaiting a visa to leave. Once in Algeria, they will study the Arabic language on the spot.
Sr. Jyothi Perera Sr. and Sr. Julia Adinawae are committed to helping women living in the Sahara desert, trying to establish a contact with each of them with full respect for their culture.

Guinea Bissau
Sister Vinnarasi Jacob, an Indian sister, was appointed to the mission of Guinea Bissau, West Africa, a very small country and one of the world's poorest. At the moment the sister is in Portugal to study the language and will soon leave for Guinea Bissau, where she will be involved in two key programs for the country: the problem of the twins and the preparation and distribution of natural medicines.

A major problem in Guinea Bissau regards twins. In this country many multiple births occur, and sometimes tri-twin, scientists are studying the phenomenon, but so far they have not yet discovered the reason. When the sisters reached Guinea Bissau in 1980, there was a belief there that twins were a divine curse, and consequently one of them was killed, usually the weakest. The child was taken by the sea and left there, so that the sea did the rest taking away the little body. Since then, the sisters have begun a new program to save the twins from the water. The children are cared for and mothers are taught to feed them with what can be found in the villages.

The second program under Sister Vinnarasi's care is about traditional medicine: in Guinea Bissau there is no medicine industry. The sisters have started teaching people how to prepare medicines at home. It was not easy at first, since every one preferred to buy medicines from abroad, but now little by little people are learning to do make then on their own. In a village there is a pharmacy that serves the surrounding villages and the director of pharmacy is a person who has been trained by the nuns. There is still much work to do with these two programs, especially with regard to the awareness among the population, but Sister Vinnarasi is ready to take her share of responsibility.

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