KENYA: Hilton Foundation to Set up Data Centres on Religious Life in Africa

By Lourine Oluoch

NAIROBI, OCTOBER 2, 2020 (CISA)-The Hilton Foundation- Catholic Sisters Initiative is in the process of putting up data centers with the aim of having a digital repository to tell the story of religious life in Africa.

Speaking September 29, during a virtual International Consultative Research (ICR) Conference, Sister Jane Wakahiu, LSOSF, Ph.D, the Associate Vice President of Program Operations and Head of Catholic Sisters Initiative at the Hilton Foundation, noted that currently there is no place for sisters to document the historical development of their congregations in a systematic way.

“We hope that this place will be a place where information can be analyzed about religious life in Africa.  …it could be parish life, it could be about men congregations, it could be about the work the sisters are doing. We hope that it will be a place where information can be digitized and be accessible. If there are sisters who are theologians, we could have the best theologians who could be used as a resource for other congregations,” she said.

According to Sr Jane, the data centers that will show the impact of the work of sisters could lead to bilateral partnerships that is key to funding of projects run by religious sisters.

The first data center has been set up in Nairobi, Kenya at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in collaboration with Tangaza University and the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK). A second one is planned for Uganda at Kisibu University in collaboration with the Association of the Religious in Uganda (AMSRIU).

According to Sr Jane the model that works best of these two will be rolled to other regions.

“Once we see how these two data centres are doing and what model is working, we will be able to move to West Africa and create one. If we see that maybe one can become a hub for all in Africa, that could be a potential way to go,” she said.

The data centres aim to document successes and challenges of religious life in Africa, provide an information management system for sisters to learn from each other, with a study of religious life from the African perspective – maintaining context and understanding.

The centre will provide an opportunity to engage sister students in conducting meaningful research and provide research training/capacity building workshops. A place where sisters who are scholars can publish their research findings and provide an online portal to access studies/research.

The data centre will have a repository focusing on women religious similar to the one at Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) based in Georgetown University in the Unites States of America.

The Hilton Foundation is currently the biggest funder of catholic sisters globally . The Catholic Sisters Initiative aims to increase the capacity of sisters to meaningfully address poverty, and elevate their voice and influence as moral leaders of change in the global effort to relieve human suffering and restore human dignity.

The September 21 – 30 International Consultative Research Conference was organized by Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)  with the aim of initiating an international network of Catholic research centers with interest and experience in studying religious life