August Appeal 2019

Sister Gladys and Sister Efu at Afya during a course on trauma healing.

People in developing countries like Brazil often face challenges that affect all parts of their being… malnutrition and disease that affects the body; trauma, abuse and stress that take a toll on the mind, the emotions, and the spirit. It can be especially difficult for women. 

This is why a holistic approach—one that treats a whole person and not just one aspect—is the most effective. This is the mission that Sister Gladys Gonzalez, M.M. pursues among the people of João Pessoa, a city in eastern Brazil.

Together with Sister Efu Nyaki, M.M., Sister Gladys works at a facility called Afya: Holistic Center for Women. (Afya is the Swahili word for “health.”) The Center serves children and men as well as women, helping to heal trauma through natural medicine, energy therapies which focus on the whole being and on the family; skills training and employment assistance; literacy and education; and healthy diet.


Afya has been in operation for 20 years, and its positive impact on the community is apparent. In fact, Sister Gladys says that many of the therapists who currently work there were people who came to the Center for help years ago.

“What I like the best about my ministry is that it is life-giving, and that is helping me in my own transformational journey,” Sister says. “I don’t call it work; it is, for me, a way of life—it is service. It is itself a healing tool for me.” Sister Gladys puts her own particular gifts to work in another valuable tool for healing the spirit: art. “I’m also an artist and at the Center I also run a program called Healing Trauma Through the Arts. Right now I am ready to build a more proper and spacious place for this specific program, which will be a great service to the Center. In order to continuously run it efficiently, any contribution I can get for it will be gratefully welcomed.”

With your gift TODAY, you will help Sister Gladys and other Maryknoll Sisters maximize their aid to people who need it most!

Sister Gladys conducting an art therapy program.


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