As with the proverbial saying, “Rome was not built in a day”, synodality is not a one-time event, but a participatory journey that forms a new People of God for mission. Reading an article by Charles de Pechpeyrou entitled “‘Mama Hekima’ Project Empowering Women in DR Congo,” I witnessed synodality in action.
The ‘Mama Hekima’ (Wisdom Mothers/Mothers of Wisdom in Swahili) Project, operated by the Daughters of Wisdom for ten years, aims to bring together Kisangani women to help them become financially independent notwithstanding their ethnic and religious differences. Sister Virginie Bitshanda, its founder, explains that the women join forces and support each other to deal with financial hardship, family illness, and ignorance about women’s rights.
The major obstacles faced by the group were religious and ethnic differences of the women. The women were Catholics, Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Protestants and Revival Church Christians. Sr. Virginie remarked, “. . .the group asked to be subdivided according to religious denomination. It seemed impossible to these women with so many different faiths to work together.”
With dedicated accompaniment, the skills, courage, qualities and love among the women inspired hope. Consequently, the mothers gradually developed harmony among themselves, decided to look beyond their differences, to cooperate, overcome ethnic and religious differences, and build peace when relational difficulties arose. Sr. Bitshanda comments, “On her own, a woman can’t do it. Instead, united with others, a solution can always be found.”
Through the association, women learned to work together. Depending on their interests, each woman works in a small group of up to 20 women. Formation focuses on topics such as civic education, women’s rights, family planning and managing the family budget and income, developing tools to increase their economic autonomy, for example the production and sale of agricultural products such as cassava and the production of wood stoves.
Consequently, malnutrition or other illnesses were cured, children were able to go to school; the women learnt to control their own lives, grew in confidence, and resisted exploitation by the country’s unjust systems.
In the end, Sr. Virginie said, “what a joy it is to see them reap the benefits of this accompaniment, which little by little, helps them not only in their financial support but also to find once more their dignity as ‘Mamas’”.
One thought on “Synodality in Action”
This is a message of hope. I never believed that Jehovah Witnesses could work with people of a different religion. To God be the Glory.