Democratic Republic of the Congo
A spring welling up in glorious Kinshasa
Following a chronic shortage of water that threatened their survival, a contemplative community of religious Sisters in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are looking forward to a new future ensured by a new well.
“We didn’t know how we were going to survive after the collapse of our old well a year ago,” Sister Mahele Mwamini, the Prioress of the Discalced Carmelites at the Glorious Saint Joseph Convent, Kinshasa, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
ACN responded to the Sisters’ urgent request by providing a grant to enable the deepening of the well to reach a new water source. During the 2017 dry season, the well will be extended by another 100 feet (30 metres) to a new depth of more than 160 feet (50 metres) to ensure enough water is reached to provide for the convent’s needs.
Sister Mwamini said: “We are committed to praying for the Church, but especially for those who need our prayers the most – the priests and the Christians persecuted because of their faith.” In a desperate plea to Aid to the Church in Need she described the crisis they were facing: “Our well that provided water has collapsed. We haven’t had a single drop since February 2016. Our convent is suffering from this situation.”
“Previously we did sell a few vegetables, this was to help the community be more self-sufficient and support unemployed mothers and their children including with their school fees.” she writes, “but now with this water shortage, we have no more vegetables and we are forced to buy them for the community.”
The lack of the water from the well made it difficult for the Sisters to bake Eucharistic bread and to maintain their small farm. “It was difficult [without water]… to prepare the unleavened bread for Communion and tend our small barn with pigs, our chicken coop, our rabbit hatch, our small vegetable garden and ourselves – it was disaster,” said Sister Mwamini and adding, “We didn’t know how we would survive. Since the well’s collapse we have used a small old hand pump which has already undergone several repairs.”
The water shortage meant the convent had to stop the spiritual retreats they ran: “There were people who came to us for a time for healing or retreats, but due to the lack of drinking water we were obliged to tell them that it would be impossible for them to come and spend time in prayer with us.”
“We are touched by your care that you have shown to our suffering and by your willingness to do all that you have done to help us. May God bless you.”
But Sister Mwamini spoke with optimism: “the new well will ensure drinking water, our resource-generating activities and retreats as well as our needs for cleaning, domestic and hygiene needs.” Also benefitting will be “mothers without work who buy vegetables, chickens and pigs for re-sale to enable them to support the needs of their families.”
Father Saverio Cannistrà, General Superior of the Discalced Carmelites, said: “We are thankful that this project ensures that these contemplative nuns can live in peace, that they not further disturbed by the lack of drinking water and so that they can continue to support the Church with their prayers.”
Thanking Aid to the Church in Need benefactors for their support Sister Mwamini said: “May the Lord bless you and fill you with abundant grace… this kind assistance that you give us enables us to achieve a drilled well.” Speaking on behalf of the 12 Sisters, whose ages vary between 32 and 81 years old, she added: “We are touched by your care that you have shown to our suffering and by your willingness to do all that you have done to help us. May God bless you.”
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By Murcadha O Flaherty
Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin