The seeds for the ministry in Zambia were a joint effort of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and the Oblates who, together, began to explore possible sites for pastoral ministry in a missionary country. Sisters Anne Finnerty and Christina Mitchell set out for India on the first leg of their exploration in 1986. Then they visited Zambia.
When a young girl in Kalabo, Zambia, told the Sisters that she hoped, someday, to be a member of their congregation, they took it as a sign that this was the site the Lord had chosen for their ministry. Sisters Anne and Christina returned to the US to report to the Congregation and make their recommendation that we go to
Zambia. On September 9, 1988, Sisters Christina Mitchell, Geraldine Klein and Rose McHugh began their missionary endeavors there. Sister Anne Finnerty was elected and served as General Superior for eight years before she returned to ministry in Zambia.
Sister Anne Finnerty
Sister Christina Mitchell with students
Since 1988, the SHSps’ ministries have given new life in a variety of ways to the Zambian people. They have spearheaded ways to help infants at risk, and they have secured home-based health care for those with little or no access to required medicine, to AIDS and malaria victims, and to others suffering from other diseases. Other services include housing and feeding programs for the abandoned elderly; education and care centers for orphans, as well as care for mothers and their children; and social services for individual and families. Through the mission outreach and its benefactors, several changes have come about: a formation center and decent housing for the vulnerable elderly have been built; small children through young adults are going to school, clean water has been brought to the people and provided to a village so that a neighborhood clinic, which is desperately needed, can be built.
Before the Sisters’ arrival in Zambia, many of the villages lacked clean water. All that was available was water from crude wells. The well was “protected” by an old tractor tire; however, it was open to all environmental realities – dirt, dust, dogs, and every variety of local pollutants. A further problem was the containers used to carry this precious commodity – often old, discarded paint cans [with residue paint inside] which were the only available vessels to carry the water back to the homes for consumption or to the fields for irrigation. Sickness and often death from tainted water are facts of life in these communities. The Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate are working hard trying to bring water pumps to the villages in order to provide clean water for drinking, cleaning, and irrigating. The $800 pumps provide an entire village with clean water readily available for daily use. In addition, the water supply provides another option: health care. Health clinics cannot be built in areas that do not have a water supply. Now that they have water, the villagers are enthusiastic about making the bricks to be used in building their new clinic.
In Zambia, many elderly, infirmed, or orphaned are often living in homes which are in a state of deterioration or disrepair. Because they do not have the funds or the manpower to repair or replace these homes, they are very often exposed to the elements, to attacks from domestic animals and to wildlife in the area. Cardboard and rubble are the only available elements for repairing the houses. A new home can be built for $500.