• image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
  • image
Tuesday, 27 September 2011 15:35

OLSH project in Africa

Rate this item
(0 votes)

The training centre will be located in a rural commune in Burkina Faso’s Gourma Province, said the OLSH congregational leader, Sister Pauline Compton. The centre will provide education in health, hygiene, nutrition and sexuality for girls’ aged 9 to 15, and deliver vocational training in a variety of trade skills.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked West African nation of 15.7 million with one of the world’s lowest GDPs, said Sr Pauline. “Half of the population is under 15 years of age, and the number of girls out of school and those who have abandoned school is very high.”

Besides poverty, the nation suffers the world’s lowest literacy rate, according to the UN. One quarter of the population is literate, with rates of literacy for girls falling below boys  “Girls who are unable to go to school and who are without vocational training are, as you could imagine, facing many difficulties,” said Sr Pauline.

The OLSH project aims to promote the integration of women into their nation’s social fabric by giving them the means to secure economic independence through their skills. Female literacy and health education will also help to reduce HIV/AIDS in Burkina Faso, Sr Pauline told guests at the OLSH Centenary dinner held in Sydney on September 8th.This date was exactly 100 years to the day after the founding of the Australian Province.

The seeds of this missionary enterprise had begun more than 25 years earlier with the1885 arrival in Sydney of five OLSH sisters from Issoudun, France. They established a convent in the isolated Sydney suburb of Botany. The first Australian-born woman, Margaret Sweeney, joined them soon afterwards.

Over 600 Australians had entered the congregation since, almost all joining in OLSH missions to northern Australia, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, the Philippines, East Timor, Japan, South Africa, Sudan and Angola.

By 1911, with 69 members and missions in remote Australia, PNG and Oceania, the Australian Province was founded. Today they number around 160 sisters. Sr Pauline paid tribute to the MSC and OLSH’s founder, Fr Jules Chevalier, whose dream was of transforming the world through the love of Christ. “The charism of the Sacred Heart is so needed today to bring compassion, healing, freedom and fullness of life to suffering humanity. Our Sisters embrace anew the faith vision of our founder as we face these challenges.”

“We place our trust in the providence of God to continue to open our hearts and lives to the invitation to be on earth the Heart of God.”

The village where the OLSH are working is located in the Sahel Region of Africa. The land is desert-like and dusty; poor crop yields means a shortage of food is a constant issue.

Further information can be found at the OLSH Overseas Aid website: www.olshoverseasaid.org

Photo Caption: Preschool children, aged 3-5, in an OLSH run school in a village on the outskirts of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ougadougou.