SAM: Strategically Moving Forward

Article by the Sector of Angola and Mozambique (SAM).
 

The sisters have been empowering girls, women, children, and their families in Angola since 1963 and Mozambique since 1995. In 2013, a local Mission Development Office was established to help the mission grow and become more effective. Since then, in partnership with Good Shepherd International Foundation, the sisters have reviewed and improved existing ministries and developed new professionally managed programs. They have improved their initiatives in skills training, adult literacy, formal and informal education, and maternal and child healthcare and, since 2015, have established vocational training, microcredit, and community development programs.
 

In 2019, the sector launched its five-year strategic plan to combat hunger and poverty in the communities where it works. By 2023 – when the sector will celebrate 60 years of presence in Angola – the plan aims to have achieved the following four outcomes:
 

yes Improved social protection systems and conditions for the rights of women, children, and young people.

yes Improved access to health and education for women and young people.

yes Enhanced sustainability through subsistence and the economic empowerment of women and their families.

yes Improved organizational competence in project and social response management.
 

Achieving these outcomes is expected to improve the lives and restore the dignity of 200,000 people from the target communities, of which 20,000 are expected to be children and women living in extreme vulnerability.
 

These outcomes are already underway at the Susan Marie Chia Adult Literacy and Vocational Training Center in Talatona, Luanda, Angola. Opened in 2016, the center offers literacy classes and skills training in cooking and pastry, tailoring and dressmaking, computer science, music, English, and school reinforcement. The center also provides microcredit schemes and linkages to the job market. Each year, an average of 600 students attend the center; this year, between January and April, 198 people who had been enrolled on courses at the center successfully entered the formal and informal labor market.

 


Some of the girls and women aged between 16 and 50 years old who graduated in March this year
from the tailoring and dressmaking course at the Susan Marie Chia Center.

 

Since 2020, a pilot project aims to bridge the gap between local farmers and markets. The agricultural and social enterprise initiative works with vulnerable families through urban and rural agriculture in small spaces. Gilberto Tomé, the project’s operations manager who trained as an agronomist in Cuba, has been working with sisters, lay partners, project participants, and hired occasional staff to install greenhouses, tanks, and an irrigation system – required to facilitate watering given the long periods of drought that can occur.
 


Gilberto Tomé, the Operational Manager, with the seedlings in the greenhouse,
which will be transplanted to the irrigated land.

 

It is hoped that this initiative will be expanded to the Camabatela community in the province of Cuanza Norte. Here, in the north of Angola, the sisters have been providing healthcare service at the Infant-Maternal Healthcare Center since 1997. Services are provided at affordable costs or free of charge for vulnerable people living in the nearby towns and surrounding areas. The center assists with over 400 births annually with a total average of over 4000 service users.
 

In addition to the healthcare center, a professional training center offers children and adults the opportunity to access courses in music, IT, literacy, and English – with 55 students attending each day. Some of the students who attend are forced to walk long distances since there are no educational facilities in their areas. During this commute on foot, they are at risk of attack from wild animals, sexual predators, and other threats. To date, the community of Camabatela has welcomed and hosted them during their studies while construction is presently underway on a new accommodation center; however, there is a shortage of funds for the project.
 


Front view of the new accommodation center under construction.
 

The remainder of the five-year plan will be overseen by the new sector leader, Sr. Marcelina Domingos, and her council Sr. Eva Ribeiro, Sr. Vioria Simão, and Sr. Serafina João who took office on April 24, 2021, the feast of our foundress, St. Mary Euphrasia.