This week Sr. Agnes Jonas, alumna of the Diploma Course’s inaugural session, stopped by for a visit to the CCP. It was her first return to Rome since the course in 2016. Elected as superior general of the Teresian sisters in 2018, she came to attend the meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) that took place 6-10 May, as a representative of her congregation in Malawi. She shared she was happy that issues regarding child protection and vulnerable people, human trafficking, abuse of women, “all those issues which we spoke about during the diploma course” were also included in the program of the UISG meeting, noting, “It is our responsibility as religious women to deal with such issues and not shy away, we need to sow a seed we hope for people who are suffering in various ways.”
She shared that her training in the diploma course assisted her in growing as an individual, even a healing process important for her personal well-being. On the level of her responsibility towards the sisters in her congregation, she has found it helps her to better understand them, especially if there is some connection with the topic of child sexual abuse in their life stories. Besides her general responsibilities of oversight for her congregation, she now gives talks to parents, youth, seminarians, and religious men and women’s organizations on child protection. She seeks to give them awareness of what abuse is, how to safeguard and what to do if abuse has taken place, emphasizing that prevention and methods of intervention are key aspects of safeguarding.
She shared the safeguarding projects she’s been working on, among them:
- Developing and finalizing a Child Protection Policy for Association of Women Religious Institutes in Malawi (AWRIM) to be adopted or adapted by all religious congregation in Malawi. The policy was lauched in February 2019.
- Together with Br. John Katumbi of Marist Brothers (also a graduate of the Diploma Course in Safeguarding ’17) conducting a child protection workshop for postulants of the Marist Brothers.
- Oversight of the construction of a 9-room hostel for secondary school girls who were being abused by people in the neighborhood of Mtendere hospital. The hostel now holds 36 students at a time. However accommodation is needed for more students.
- Ongoing counseling work with individuals and families. One family was suffering from domestic violence leading to abuse of their children. After a successful counseling process the family is living in peace.