Sr. Helen Kasaka, LSMI
ACWECA President Rev. Sister Mary Cecilia Njeri of the Little Sisters of Saint Francis expressed gratitude for the ministry of ACWECA Secretary General Rev. Sr. Helen Bandiho, of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Congregation and the finance officer Sr. Betty Grace Atim during the farewell ceremony on Monday 15th November, 2021 at the ACWECA Secretariat in Nkoroi, Ngong Catholic Diocese.
While addressing the members of staff who gathered for the farewell, Sister Mary Cecilia Njeri who has served as president of the Association of Consecrated Women in Eastern and Central Africa (ACWECA) since August, 2017, started by highlighting Sr. Helen Bandiho’s contributions to the association.
“Sr. Helen, I sincerely thank you on behalf of the Executive board. You have been a precious gift here, you have transformed this place. We have safari park now and safari garden. You have given a touch in our house, curtains, beautiful tiles, everything. Thank you for taking initiative to transform this place, to make a difference, to make the place better than you found it. We are very grateful for using your gifts, using your friends to develop ACWECA,” she said.
“We have worked well with you since you came, actually in January 2020 then in March 2020 there was lockdown, but you have persevered with this challenge of Covid-19. Thank you also for helping the community to reach out to the poor, the hungry, those who could not afford food during the crisis. I thank you because with the community, you managed to seek assistance in order to reach out to the poor with compassion,” she added.
Sister Cecilia Njeri said sometimes what we don’t like is what God likes. “None of us would like to be where we are but God chooses. I don’t know now how you feel that you have been elected Superior General but since I know you have the vow of Obedience and you did not choose yourself, we allow you to go; and we promise you our prayers. When Jesus is on the throne, everything goes well. So, keep trusting him and all will be well. We pray for your Sisters and we pray that we get someone to replace you.”
The President, Rev. Sister Mary Cecilia Njeri then thanked the Deputy Secretary General, for working in close collaboration with Secretary General and ACWECA staff members.
“You know when Moses was about to go, he handed over the responsibility to Joshua and handing over and even mentoring him. So, Sr. Tunu, when the person coming to replace Sr. Helen arrives, know that you will be the co-driver, helping her to find her way”.
To the outgoing finance officer, Sr Betty Grace Atim, the President also thanked her for taking care of the finances.
“Thank you for what you have been and all that you have done for ACWECA in that very sensitive and important office. Thank you for taking care of our money. The auditors proved that you left a clean record and I agree in my opinion that you were doing a good job. Thank you for that dedication, hard work and for persevering even when work was tough. They say when the going gets tough, the tougher gets the going, and you have proved that”.
Sister Mary Cecilia Njeri then asked Sr. Betty to utilize what she gained from ACWECA. “I want also to assure you of our prayers and that wherever you go, put what you have gained from here, carry it and let it be your mouth piece.
Sr. Betty Grace Atim has served as ACWECA finance officer since 2015 and her contract expired on 31st October, 2021.
She has been replaced by Sr Stella Kanyunyuzi a daughter of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, popularly known as Banyateresa in Uganda.
To the members of staff at the Secretariat, the President encouraged them to move on together in synodality.
“I also want to encourage all members of this community of Our Lady of the Valley to work as a team and to continue supporting one another. It is possible for people from different tribes, nationalities, age, levels of education and talents to come together and work in peace and harmony. We are here temporarily for a mission and let’s do our best, to awaken the prophetic role in response to the call for reformation towards holistic transformation, so that we also transform ourselves and our community, and then go out. So, I want to encourage you my Sisters that you enjoy the differences and the diversity that are in this community.
In her speech, Sr. Helen Bandiho urged those remaining at ACWECA Secretariat to bloom where they are planted.
“I always say I bloom wherever I am planted and when I came to ACWECA Secretariat. I didn’t know where I was going and I had to ask the driver several times ‘Are we in the right place?’ and he said, yes. Then I said to myself, ‘If the Sisters have been living here why not me?’ So, why not you! So, bloom where you are planted and that is the message that I want to leave with you. At this moment you are planted in ACWECA, so you have to bloom here. Don’t waste your time, bloom where you are planted and I am sure you will be able to please God because you are serving his people.”
Sr. Helen thanked the Sisters for what they have been to her during her term of office.
“I thank each one of you for what you have been to me. Without you, may be things would have fallen apart but we are still strong and I am happy that I am living you strong. You have food on the table, you can still serve the Sisters, so thank you all, thank you”.
Rev. Sister Helen Bandiho, who replaced Sr. Enelesi Chimbali as ACWECA Secretary General in 2020 was on 12th October, 2021 elected as Superior General of her congregation.
Speaking on behalf of ACWECA Secretariat Staff, Rev. Sr. Tunu, the Deputy Secretary General and Coordinator of SCORE ECD thanked the outgoing staff for their contribution.
In her speech, the outgoing Finance Officer Sr. Betty Atim said, “Serving at the regional office like ACWECA means we are championing the Sisters, so be united to deliver the mandates given by the assembly, to build the capacity of the Sisters for enhanced impact. Kindly embrace the Secretariat’s core values and put them at heart. Our unity should not be based on personal friendship but on the common values and mission of ACWECA”.
Sr. Betty asked also told the incoming Finance officer, Sister Stella Kanyunyuzi, “You are entering a very demanding office but I know you are a prayerful and professional woman and when you pray, you will get things done. Please be close to God. Don’t shy away from reminding all of us of ACWECA’s policies and our role as stewards of the resources entrusted to us”.
Sr Betty Grace Atim asked ACWECA staff members to give Sister Stella the support she needs. “The secret behind the department’s success over the years has been the people (the staff).”