US-based Charitable Foundation Facilitating Data Centers in Africa for Catholic Sisters

The US-based Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is facilitating the setting up of data centers in Africa that will be used to collect, store, process, and allow the sharing of information about Catholic Sisters on the continent, an official of the entity has told participants in the ongoing ten-day virtual International Consultative Research (ICR) conference.

In her Tuesday, September 29 presentation, the Head of the Catholic Sisters Initiative at California-based Foundation, Sr. Jane Wakahiu said that the leadership of the philanthropic trust already approved a grant for establishing the data center in Kenya.

Sr. Jane disclosed that the grant was released to three of the foundation’s partners: The Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), which is hosting the data hub; the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK), which is spearheading the project, and Tangaza University College (TUC), the Nairobi-based Catholic Institution jointly owned by 22 Religious Orders that is affiliated to CUEA.

With the process of hiring the Director of the data center underway, the facility is expected to become operational soon, the Executive Secretary of AOSK, Sr. Pasilisa Namikoye told participants in the virtual ICR conference September 29.

When operationalized, Nairobi-based the data center is expected to contribute to increasing knowledge dissemination and visibility of Catholic Sisters’ apostolate across Africa, Sr. Jane, a member the Religious Institute of the Little Sisters of Saint Francis (LSOSF) said.


She also disclosed that the 76-year-old family Foundation is in the process of facilitating the establishment of a second data center in the East African nation of Uganda, an initiative being undertaken in partnership with the Association of the Religious in Uganda (ARU).

Being set up at the University of Kisubi, one of the Catholic institutions of higher learning in Uganda, the data center is expected to be instrumental in the “development of an Online Data Platform for data collection, storage, retrieval and dissemination,” Sr. Jane who has a Doctorate in Human Development said.

The model that works best between the Kenya-based and Uganda-based data centers will be rolled out in other regions, she added during the conference organized by two US-based entities, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University and the African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC).

Sr. Jane who has previously served as ASEC Executive Director explained the need for the data centers in Africa saying, “Currently there is no place for sisters to document the historical development of their congregations in a systematic way.” 

The data centers will be a digital storage to tell the story of Religious Life in Africa, learn how it is evolving, and document its success and challenges, Sr. Jane who is also the Associate Vice President of Program Operations at the Conrad Hilton Foundation further said.

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The data centers are necessary because they will provide an information management system that helps to create a field for sisters to learn from each other's Congregations; they will also offer an opportunity for the study of Religious Life from the African perspective – maintaining context and understanding, she went on to say on the fifth day of the ten-day conference that started September 21.

The U.S-based Kenyan Sister outlined the major functions of the data centers including storing, analyzing and manage information; archiving congregational stories, and digitizing information for ease of accessibility; and facilitating the generation, integration, sharing and dissemination of organizational knowledge.

The report about the data centers in Africa was well received by participants in the virtual conference, with Nigerian-born Sr. Seun Amulejoye saying, “It is a good idea to have a data center through Catholic universities. Both Priests and Religious, who have embarked on research in the past and future research should be encouraged to file in their research.”

“Thank God for this shift of integration of formation and academics. In this way we are embracing genuine growth,” Sr. Lilly from Uganda said.

Established in 1944 by the American hotelier Conrad Hilton, the Hilton Foundation provides funds to nonprofit organizations working to improve the lives of individuals living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage throughout the world.


Supporting Catholic sisters to be recognized as global leaders in sustainable human development by giving grants toward the Sisters’ education, human development services, knowledge, and innovation is listed as one of its program areas.

The September 21-30 ICR virtual conference that brings together Lay and Religious researchers from six regions among them Africa aims at creating a global network of researchers who will have the task of examining the apostolate of Catholic Sisters across the globe.