Sr Yvonne GRUPPETTA
I have been on mission for 14 years in Mauritania, an Islamic country. I am happy to be at the service of the poor, in doing so, witnessing to the love of God for all, whatever the culture, the religion, the social situation. I am part of an international community of four Sisters (one French Sister, two Burmese and myself, Maltese). One of the sisters, a nurse, cares for the burnt patients in the national hospital, another works in a centre for young women aged from 14 to 25 teaching them needlework, and the other works at the diocesan library and a sewing centre for deprived women.
For my own mission I collaborate with Caritas on a project “Supporting Women’s Groups”. With a team of three Mauritanian women, I work with very deprived women who have several children who live in two poor areas – shantytowns of Nouakchott. They are mostly divorced women or widows who have several children, the majority of the women being illiterate. Here polygamy is widespread, but the husband is not able to provide for the needs of all the children – hence the difficulties experienced by the women who find themselves abandoned. The project with these women aims to strengthen their capabilities and enable them to manage an activity that will generate some income. Various simple courses are organised to improve their self-image, learning reading, writing and numeracy in their own language, techniques for dyeing, soap making, etc. The women arrange cooperatives of 5 to 10 members to work on a particular activity. When these groups are well organised, small credits are granted to help them become established. A follow up with regular visits is assured until they become autonomous.
These are truly very courageous women ready to move forward. The solidarity among them is supportive. Some of them indicate to us young girls who merely loiter around the area. Today 20 young girls from difficult situations follow courses in hair-dressing (a profitable job in this country; this is able to help them in being assured of dignity for their future. We accompany them up to their insertion in the workforce.
In being present with these women and girls in difficulties I am happy to contribute with the others (especially with local people), to continue searching for ways to alleviate their miserable situations and to open doors of hope for a more dignified life. What is important is to simply be at the service of love for all the little ones in the name of the Lord.