Creating “culture of care”: Actors on Nuns’ Safeguarding Training in Monasteries in Africa

Credit: Jacob Jeketule Soko

Contemplative Nuns from some 35 Monasteries in eight Anglophone African countries have been beneficiaries of a training on safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults aimed at creating “a safe church for everybody”.

In an interview with ACI Africa, the President of the Conference of Contemplative Communities Kenya (CCCK) said the virtual training that Spec Training and Consultancy Research facilitated by between May and July was part of the initiatives to create “a culture of care and protection” among all the people of God. 

“Nuns have been working and walking with the mind of the church and they want to create a safe church for everybody. We are not excluded by this invitation, especially from Pope Francis, in his motu Proprio, You are the Light of the World and As a Loving Mother,” Sr. Agatha Daniel said during the Tuesday, September 26 interview, referencing the May 2019 Vos Estis Lux Mundi and the June 2016 Apostolic Letters, respectively.

Sr. Agatha said that since the two Apostolic Letters were published, “there has been a problem with applying the teachings of the Magisterium on creating a safe Church today and we wanted to do it in ways that will be impactful in the monasteries.”

The official of the CCCK, which brings together Contemplative Nuns from Kenya, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe added that the training was important to help Nuns realize that they can be perpetrators or victims of any form of abuse in their respective Monasteries. 


“Even if we are separated from the world, we interact with the world on a daily basis; abuses can happen at any level in our monasteries or with those people who come in. We can be victims or perpetrators. We want to create in the Monasteries a culture of care and protection,” said the member of the Sisters of St. Joseph Cottolengo (Cottolengo Sisters).

She added, “It is not only about sexual abuse. It could be emotional, or verbal; it could be an abuse of authority and monastic life is full of authority. For us to be safe, we have to be aware, to be informed of how we could be perpetrators or victims. We want to create a safe Church.”

“We Nuns who live a monastic life do not want to be detached from the teaching of the Church and people and the subject of safeguarding is very inclusive. We need to be updated so that we promote the dignity of everybody. We are all children of God,” Sr. Agatha said, emphasizing the need for the training that had six modules. 

In a separate interview, the Lead Trainer, Jacob Jeketule Soko, explained that the Contemplative Nuns who were divided into three groups were taken through six units, which included the concept of child safety and vulnerable adults; forms, signs and how to respond to abuses; statistics of abuse; legal framework of safeguarding children and adults; application of strategies; and safeguarding policies.

Jacob Jeketule Soko

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Mr. Jeketule told ACI Africa that the first cohort of 19 Contemplative Nuns underwent the training from May 8-19, the second group of 22 Contemplative Nuns from June 5-16, and the third set of 20 Contemplative Nuns from July 10-14.

The Monitoring and Evaluation officer at Spec Training and Consultancy Research added, “Before this training, we did a pre-assessment of what they know about the topic and issue. We did a post-assessment survey afterward. From their responses, we noticed a lot of growth.”

“We tend to think the Nuns are just in the Monasteries but they can learn if we provide the right platforms for them,” he said, adding that there are vulnerable adults in the Monasteries.

Mr. Jeketule continued, “The Nuns are mostly in the Monasteries and if there are abuses, the chain will keep going on and on. You need to make that place good or everyone.”

“Because of the growing issues of abuse, they need therefore to understand the issue of safeguarding,” he went on to say in reference to Contemplative Nuns in Monasteries in Africa,.


He continues, “The Nuns play a very crucial role. One way is through prayer, another way is to ensure their communities are safeguarded.”

Some Nuns go to Monasteries “when young and naïve”, the Monitoring and Evaluation officer at Spec told ACI Africa during the September 26 interview, and added, “We want to ensure that they are empowered with information, knowledge about safeguarding. They would want to take everyone with a pinch of salt, not to be naïve.”

While training Contemplative Nuns was “a new phenomenon” for Spec Training and Consultancy Research, it helped the entity discover how they can support Contemplative Nuns, Mr. Jeketule said. 

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.