“I feel like a midwife of creativity.”
Maryknoll Sister Jean Pruitt of Los Angeles, CA, entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 1958. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in education from Mary Rogers College in Maryknoll, NY, and her Bachelors degree in Social Work from the University of Buffalo (SUNY).
Sister Jean was assigned to Tanzania in 1969 where she worked with Catholic Relief Services in Dar es Salaam. In 1971, she and several youths pooled their meager resources and opened a small artist’s shop, NYUMBA YA SANAA (House of Art), Tanzania’s first modern art center, which has already celebrated its 25th anniversary. Sister Jean continues in the role of consultant at this center.
In 1983, Sister Jean received a national award from the President of Tanzania for her contribution to the development of small-scale industry in Tanzania. At this time, she became one of the founding members of Amnesty International of Tanzania. Sister Jean also founded VIJANA, a carpentry and metal workshop that offers architectural and printing services. It’s here that young boys and adolescents can learn a trade that may well produce income for them as adults.
Most of Sister Jean’s missionary life has been working for the poor, especially children. She founded Dogodogo Centre to give Tanzania’s streetchildren a place to live and to learn through education and community. Sister Jean continues to work with youth and fund raising.