St. Consolata's Pre and Primary School is located in the idyllic village of Baraki in the Mara region of Tanzania. The school was started at the will of local parents who expressed the desire for the IHSA Sisters to build a school of their own, due to the poor performance of local government schools. With nearly 95% of students in the local community failing to complete high school, the Sisters knew that this was a call that could not be ignored. The Sisters made the decision early on to make St. Consolata's an English Medium School. With limited English instruction during primary education and then a full shift to English in secondary school, many students are left struggling to comprehend written and oral instruction.
So, in 2010 St. Consolata's Pre and Primary school was officially opened. The school provides instruction from pre-kindergarten through standard seven level, and accepts children as young as five. A lot has changed since the beginning years of instruction. Dormitories and teacher housing have been constructed, and the school has continued to expand its capacity to accept more students on full scholarship. Furthermore, St. Consolata's has been a consistent top performer in the region on government standardized testing.
What cannot be measured in a test can be seen in the behavior of the boys and girls who benefit from this special ministry. A strong sense of community, a love of learning, and a keen curiosity can be seen in the students of St. Consolata's. Students benefit from the leadership of the IHSA Sisters in their formation as civically-minded leaders starting from an early age. Students also receive a strong spiritual foundation, and are encouraged to live out their respective faith traditions.
Through the present day, St. Consolata's continues to be a center of learning for children hailing from all over Tanzania. The IHSA Sisters are seeking donors for the continued funding of full and partial scholarships for children, especially from the immediate area, who would otherwise be unable to benefit from high-quality educational experience that St. Consolata's provides.
Located along the same road as St. Consolata's is the Baraki Health Center. Though housed in a small building, this healthcare facility brings a big impact to the community of Baraki and surrounding villages. Opened by the IHSA Sisters in 1986 to meet a critical shortage of health care facilities in the area, the Baraki Health Center provides essential services particularly to those affected by HIV/AIDs in this high prevalence area of Tanzania. The Baraki Health Center averages over one birth per day, serving women who would otherwise give birth in their homes or face the high financial burden of long travel to a larger hospital.
The Baraki Health Center provides low-cost services without sacrificing quality. Staffed by two IHSA Sisters, one a nurse and the other a clinical officer, this rural clinic provides extensive care to a remote area with limited connectivity to Tanzania's larger cities. The health center is also a valuable resource for the children and families of St. Consolata's, and provides an economic benefit to the area by employing doctors, nurses, pharmacists, cooks, and cleaning staff.
In Tanzania, common illnesses like an intestinal amoeba or malaria can quickly turn deadly. With widespread malnutrition, poor access to clean water, and cost preventative healthcare, delaying trips to the doctor because of inability to pay is a reality for many Tanzanians. Unfortunately, this leads to more hospitalizations, higher bills, and worse health outcomes. The Baraki Health Center seeks to be a welcoming facility, where inability to pay is not a barrier to treatment and community members can come without the financial anxiety that many experience when accessing the Tanzanian healthcare system.
While a vibrant and effective healthcare facility for the community, the Baraki Health Center is not without its challenges. Charity care, the high cost of transporting medical supplies, and the expense of staff salaries, are significant challenges for this ministry. The essentials of medication, supplies, and salaries often take precedence over building renovations or updating equipment. The IHSA Sisters are eager to engage donors about needed renovations for this indispensable ministry.
In addition to the health center and school, the village of Baraki is home to the house of formation for young women who aspire to join the IHSA community. Currently the Baraki Formation House is home to 25 women in the early stages of formation to join the community. Women accepted into the house of formation participate in a year of aspirancy, learning about the history and unique charism of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa. After their first year, women in formation enter postulancy, working towards the completion of two years of intensive catechetical training, prayer, and preparation for life in the community. Upon finishing three years in Baraki, women who have successfully completed their training becoming novices and prepare to move to Musoma for a year of novitiate. All accepted women are required to have completed their education through form four. The formation house is a time of deep andmutual discernment- the community discerns the presence of these young women in the community, and the women discern if their desire is a true vocation from God. The IHSA Sisters ask for your prayers for the aspirants, postulants, and sisters who live and work in the formation house of Baraki.
Helping to support the IHSA Sisters Baraki ministries is the Baraki Sisters' Farm. As the first ministry established by the IHSA Sisters in this village, the Baraki Farm serves as a source of food, income, and employment for the Sisters, as well as community members in the surrounding areas. Situated on over 200 acres of arable land, the Sisters are able to reap the benefits of their plentiful rice crops. Additionally, the Sisters operate an incredibly active dairy farm- complete with a pasterurization machine that makes the milk ready for sale in surrounding towns. When walking through the Baraki Sisters' Farm, one is reminded of the importance of good agricultural practices that seek to maximize production without sacrificing the long-term sustainability of the land. Many of the Sisters who work in this ministry have college-level study in agriculture, live stock care, and other related subjects. Recently, the Sisters also acquired a machine for the production of sunflower and have begun enthusiastically producing cooking oil to be sold in local markets. The Baraki Sisters' Farm partners with local staff to keep the crops watered, cows milked, and chickens fed. The IHSA Sisters ask for your prayers for the continued success of this ministry, as well as for the larger vision of ecological preservation outlined in Laudato Si.