Sister Rebecca Nyaki

“Before I thought of being a Maryknoll Sister, I remembered that I saw a severely disabled woman who, in spite of her disability, made a great effort to move around. I thought, ‘I am fit in mind and body.’ Being a missioner is a way of being aware of one’s own good health and of others’ health needs.”

Sister Rebecca NyakiSister Rebecca Nyaki was born in Mandeka in Moshi, Tanzania. To help others’ health needs, she became a physiotherapist, receiving her diploma from the Christian Medical Center in 2001.

Sister Rebecca entered the Maryknoll Sisters in 2004 and after her First Vows, was assigned to the Eastern U.S. region in January 2007. After discernment with Maryknoll Sisters working there, she joined four seasoned missioners in Hendersonville, North Carolina, learning more about the American culture while the other Maryknoll Sisters learned more about African culture and some Swahili expressions.

Responding to the priority needs of pre-school education and immigration, she volunteers at a public school in a preschoolers program of four-year-old children, mostly from Latin America and hardly speaking English. With her characteristic good humor, she says, “We are learning from each other as I can hardly speak Spanish!” She also volunteers at a physical therapy rehab office. As a trained physiotherapist, she will apply to be certified in North Carolina.

Sister Rebecca joined with Women Build, an effort of Habitat for Humanity to help finish a house constructed solely by women for a family of eight in Henderson County. When Hurricane Gustav struck, Sister Rebecca and another Maryknoll Sister rushed to the U.S. Gulf Coast region as volunteers serving with the American Red Cross chapter of Henderson County. Sister Rebecca helped more than 2,700 people who had taken shelter at Louisiana State University in Alexandria. When this shelter closed, she helped evacuees assess the damage to their storm-ravaged homes.

In her eight years in North Carolina, Sister Rebecca has learned much about the spirit of American volunteerism, more needed than ever. She says that Hendersonville reminds her of her home in Tanzania on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

“The beauty of the place takes me home—the mountains, the people are more laid back and very welcoming.”

Find out more about Sister Rebecca via her blog. She wants to hear from you.