Sister Angelique: Bringing Refugees Hope


Sister Angelique Namaika
UNHCR, via Flickr

Ryan Geertsma and Robin Basselin look at a woman who is working to bring hope and healing to other women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Watch Video


Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight, I’m Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2 

And I’m Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Simone was 14 years old when her life changed forever. She was sitting in her village school in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A group of rebel soldiers surrounded the school.  They were from the Lord’s Resistance Army or the LRA. The soldiers kidnapped all the students. They taught the boys to fight and become soldiers. They forced the girls to marry and have sex with other LRA soldiers. If the children resisted, the LRA soldiers beat or killed them.

Voice 2 

Life with the LRA was difficult for Simone. Soon she became pregnant. She had a baby boy when she was only 15 years old. Every day, Simone lived in fear. She worried that soldiers would kill her or her son. After a year and a half, Simone finally escaped.

Voice 1 

Simone was free from the LRA.  But she was alone and afraid.  Then, she met Sister Angelique Namaika. Sister Angelique helped Simon heal and become independent again. Today’s Spotlight is on Sister Angelique and the ways she is caring for female victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Voice 2 

Sister Angelique Namaika has always known what she wanted to do with her life. When she was 9 years old, she lived in the town of Lege, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She remembers a German nun who visited the town. Angelique watched this female religious worker care for the sick. The nun gave out medicine and talked with the people who came to her. Angelique decided then that she wanted to become a nun too. She told the Thomas Reuters Foundation,

Voice 3 

“There was so much work to do. The nun did not have time to eat or rest. I told myself I will do everything I can to become like her. I will help her, so that she may rest.”

Voice 1 

And this is exactly what Angelique did. In 2000, Sister Angelique completed the necessary studies to become a nun. In 2003, she began working in the town of Dungu. Dungu has many refugees. These refugees are victims of LRA violence. Like Simone, many of the women and young girls were kidnapped by the LRA. They suffered much fear and violence. They have escaped from the LRA, but they still suffer many problems.

Voice 2 

Most of the refugees in Dungu do not own land. They also do not speak the local language. Many of the young girls have very little education. They have not learned any skills to support themselves or their children. So they have no way to earn money. Sister Angelique quickly recognized what she needed to do. She told the Thomas Reuters Foundation,

Voice 3

“We have to help women to become independent. They need to support themselves and their families without being forced to depend on their husbands. That way they learn their true value.”

Voice 1 

So Sister Angelique started teaching the women the local language. She teaches them how to read and write. And she listens to their stories. Often by talking together the women find support. They discover they are not alone. They are a community.

Voice 2

Sister Angelique also teaches the women skills they can use to earn money. She teaches some women to sew clothes. Once they are skilled, they can make school clothes and other things to sell in the market. Sister Angelique teaches other women to cook foods such as bread. They can sell this food in the market or by visiting houses in the community. Sister Angelique even helped a group of women start a garden. Together they planted seeds and cared for the plants. The women used the vegetables and foods from the garden to feed their families. And they sold what remained.

Voice 1 

After a few years, Sister Angelique opened a centre in Dungu. It is called the Centre for Reinsertion and Development Support or CRAD. At this centre, she can teach many women at one time. The women can also come there to use common resources. But some women live too far away from the centre.  So Sister Angelique rides her two wheeled bicycle to visit them.

Voice 2 

But Sister Angelique’s efforts do not just concentrate on teaching the women. A major part of her work is helping the women re-enter society.  She works to help their communities accept them again. Sister Angelique told the Catholic News Service the story of one 14 year old girl.

Voice 3 

“One problem she had was that she was rejected by her mother. Her mother said that the girl was responsible for being caught by the LRA. I gave the girl guidance and information. Then I went to her mother’s house to help the mother and daughter talk and understand each other. So the two of them, the mother and the girl, they made peace and today they are on good terms. The girl is happy because she felt love.”

Voice 1

In 2013, the United Nations Refugee Agency recognized Sister Angelique’s efforts. The organization gave her the UNHRC’s Nansen Award. This major award is given once a year to a person or group doing very good work to help refugees. But for Sister Angelique, the award is not just for her. She told the Al Jazeera news organization,

Voice 3 

"The award is for the women. I hope it will help us with the basic work of helping them get an education and earn a living. People just want to be a part of something. This helps fight the pain and suffering that comes from their difficult experiences.”

Voice 2 

Over the years, Sister Angelique has helped more than 2,000 women and children affected by the LRA. But she does not do this work to win awards or become famous.  Sister Angelique described to Perspective Magazine how her Christian faith encourages her to work.

Voice 3 

“The Lord identifies with those who suffer. So when I meet a suffering person I recognize that it is God appearing before me asking for help. Even if I have to get up in the middle of the night. I have to do it. I trust in God. It is He who gives me the courage and strength to keep on working.”        

Voice 1 

And Sister Angelique shows no signs of stopping. She has given her life to serve victims and refugees.  She told the Thomas Reuters Foundation,

Voice 3 

“I will never stop doing all I can to give them hope and the chance to live again.”

Voice 2 

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Mark Drenth. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again and read it on the Internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, “Sister Angelique: Bringing Refugees Hope.”

Voice 1 

We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

(Get our app for Android or for Apple devices. Let us know how you like it and write a review!)

Question:

Are there refugees in your community? How can you help them? If you are a refugee, what help do you need?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
timetobealive
said on November 25, 2013

I think Women are a very important part for this wolrd cause they made this society become better Because women can make you feel better, they are lovely and patient, this show us women is the most important thing to change the worl for better . Women open peace doors and hope.

Avatar Spotlight
vienhuongbinhhoa
said on November 28, 2013

if great, itr gain my hope to live and help the poor. I like this talking: when I meet a suffering person I recognize that it is God appearing before me asking for help. Right exactly!

Avatar Spotlight
Dela
said on November 29, 2013

Each of us must admire the humility, patience of sister Angelique. God mainly encourages her and gives her the strenght to take care of suffering, powerless women. There are not many persons what sister Angeliqua is like.
Thanks for an excellent topic!

Avatar Spotlight
jack shin
said on December 01, 2013

another name is unconditional love. :)
nice article with new monday of this week.
from thailand.

Avatar Spotlight
kieuoanh231
said on December 02, 2013

There are many refugees like Simone in The Third World. They are suffering pain and are being ill- treated by LRA. It is need many persons do what like Sister Angelique!

Avatar Spotlight
thanhdung07121985@gmail.com
said on February 09, 2015

In many centuries,woman always has been suffered hurt cause of bad behaviour and violence.She doesn’t have the right and equality like man.She has been hurt both of mind and body.This thing still exists many place on the world.So I really appreciate Sister Angelique.She’s very brave,gentle,kind and patient.She save the destiny of many women.I hope there’ll be many Sister Angelique.

Learning Everything's avatar
Learning Everything
said on February 11, 2015

When you have any opportunity to help a poor person, do not await but quickly to do it. GOD will be blessings you more than.

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on February 12, 2015

In the life we do all things we can to help everyone. Not good things are judged and sentenced. True way leads us to perfection. Wrong way leads us to destruction. We choose true way. Beautiful good things bring everyone beautiful good things. We believe in beautiful good things. Not good things destroy the life. Not good things need to be pushed away. The life has many beautiful good things. We have many choices of beautiful good things. There are not-good-things in the life. We keep away from not good things. We protect beautiful good things.

Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on January 02, 2020

Today I met a group of Venezuelan refugee Indians: a 40-year-old woman, a 15-year-old girl, and two boys, apparently 6-8 years old. They were dirty and with hunger and anger stamped on their faces. I stopped the car and my wife gave them money and a bottle of water.
At that time, I deeply hated all governments that treat their people like the Venezuelan government treats their people.