Knowing, Caring, and Acting – for Justice by Sister Connie Krautkremer, M.M.
Who will advocate for human rights? If not us-who?
“Knowing, Caring and Acting-for Justice”-that was the challenge.
Villagers, women and men with all the hard earned experience needed to farm and herd in the semi-desert of central Tanzania were invited to come together for two days in “the big city” of Dodoma. They expected to meet folks from other villages and to learn more about human rights.
This was a chance to get away from the daily tasks of carrying water, searching for firewood, caring for the animals and cooking, The twenty seven were chosen by their villages and the village was responsible for bus fares to the city. They stayed in a comfortable hostel and breakfast, tea breaks, lunch and dinner were provided – a vacation of sorts, but definitely a working vacation. The seminar was funded by you, my friends and sponsors. I was responsible for the processes and facilitation.
Laws in Tanzania are in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights, but like many other places, those laws are not always enforced. Cultural factors and poverty itself leave the vulnerable even more exposed and defenseless.
Some children do not get to go to school because they are helping herd cattle, making charcoal, or selling local brew. After several years of drought, no crops, little food and no extra money some families consider school a luxury they cannot afford. The circumcision of young girls continues in some families even though it is against the law, and trafficking of children is finding its way into rural areas. Participants shared experiences of people coming to the villages offering employment in big cities. Because the recruiters are known and trusted, they are able to take the young girls and boys whose families are looking for a way out of poverty. Participants had seen this happen and were shocked to learn that this is a big business.
To stimulate discussions on women’s rights we used the picture of a family walking along a path in the village. The young boy is playing with a tire rim, and the father, hands in his pockets, are out front, wearing shoes. The mother and young girl, following behind are barefoot. They are carrying firewood on the head, a baby on the back, arms laden with baskets and bundles. Does this really happen? Oh, yes, agreed all the women. Is it right? No. The men a bit reluctantly agreed with the women, giving their reasons why it works well this way!!
The participants understood that one of their tasks was to carry the learnings home and to engage their neighbors in an educational process and to help one another meet the challenges raised. Enthusiasm was so high that the plans they made were probably a bit beyond what one could expect to implement. I cautioned and advised to start small, and DO IT.
During the sessions, over meals, and at the hostel friendships and new connections were made, from one village to another. The biggest joy for me was how these men and women plunged with honesty and curiosity into the topics. They listened and shared their wisdom, were serious, playful, and highly motivated to make a difference.
- 2 cups of sliced tomato wedges
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 2 cups of onions, sliced from top to bottom
Combine tomato wedges and sliced onions. Stir gently to mix well and sprinkle with salt. Allow to stand for a while to combine flavors and juices. Serves 6.
- 1-2lb. cubed meat of your choosing
- 1 1/2 cups of diced tomatoes
- 1 cup cubed potatoes
- 1/2 cup diced onions
- 3/4 cup tender okra pods
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. curry powder
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbs. butter
Cook the meat until tender. Remove from skillet. Add butter to skillet and saute onions until soft. Add tomatoes and okra. When slightly cooked, return meat to the skillet. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until done. To thicken add a little flour mixed with water. (serve over rice) Serves 3-4.
Meet the Maryknoll Sisters:
Meet biological Maryknoll Sisters, Sr. Rose Andree Krieger (to the left) & Sr. Mary Grace Krieger (to the right). This sister duo, both earned their Bachelor Degrees in Education from Harris Teachers College in St Louis, MO before entering the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation together on April 9th, 1948. Yesterday, marked 70 years they have been a part of our community!
Sister Rose Andree, served as a teacher in Chile for over 20 years. Sister Mary Grace served for over 10 years in the Philippines as a teacher. They both then served in the U.S. in many roles for several years.
Today, Sister Rose Andree is 96 years young and Sister Mary Grace is 94 years young and once again they’re together enjoying retirement at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in New York. They both are still very active volunteers in their community!
Words of Wisdom
“So I would urge you, not only as an act of homage to God, but as a protest against the lovelessness of the world to put your lovely charity into action by kind acts, encouraging words, prayers, and the glad sharing of one another’s joy and sorrows. Thus you can make Christ a living reality wherever you may dwell.”
-Our Foundress, Mother Mary Joseph, Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 206