Women’s group looks forward to first harvest

Elizabeth Rydeen, CRD


The final report from Father Mansuetus Setonga, a friend of Sister Tonie Rausch, proclaims that the organization Mater Dei Africa heard the cry of the poverty of the women at Bwiko and Gama villages in the Same Diocese, Tanzania, and established Bwiko Women Entrepreneurs Group. “The aim of the group is to work together in order to enable them to improve their economic status, livelihood and hence the well-being of their families.”


With this goal in mind, Mater Dei applied for and received a One-World Mission grant to construct a fishpond. Many women make a living in agriculture, but these two villages are in a dry location and farming is not an option. The grant was received last November and less than a year later, the pond was constructed, stocked with baby fish and the harvest will take place in September. The project was a huge undertaking; the biggest expense was renting an excavator to dig the pond. Other expenses included the plastic liner, skilled labor and security fence. The local community contributed $1150 for the project.


The project benefits 15 women and their families in two significant ways: 1. provides a rich source of protein, improving basic nutrition, especially for the children and 2. enables the women to start their own small business and earn an income.


The fishpond is named in memory of Sister Tonie Rausch who ministered in the Same Diocese and was well loved. You may remember Chuck and Pat Ernst who were here earlier this year and gave an enlunchment with Sister Rose Mae Rausch. They had visited the project and reported on the construction process and the dedication.




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The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota, is a community of Catholic women religious who follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, walking in the footsteps of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. We believe that the living of a poor, simple and prayerful community life is a ministry of presence and witness. Our doors are open to the public to celebrate Mass in Sacred Heart Chapel and to benefit from the St. Francis Music Center and St. Francis Health & Recreation Center. We welcome those who wish to join us as sisters, associates, volunteers, transfer sisters, friends and donors.


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