, 02 December, 2019 / 2:48 AM
The winner of this year’s Opus Prize worth US$1 million, Sr. Catherine Mutindi Kivutui, has returned to her ministry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where she oversees the running of Bon Pasteur (Good Shepherd) Kolwezi, the apostolate she founded in 2012 in Lualaba Province, south of DRC with the objective of ending child labor.
ACI Africa reached out to the member of the religious congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd in an interview to find out the plans she has with the funds she received November 21 at Saint Louis University (SLU) in Missouri, USA.
“The funds will help Bon Pasteur improve the lives and renew the hope of the most vulnerable communities and individuals in Kolwezi,” Sr. Mutindi told ACI Africa Friday, November 29.
“The US$1 million has been factored into the Bon Pasteur program’s strategic finance plan 2018-2022 and it will be used to meet funding gaps in both consolidating as well as expanding Bon Pasteur work in Kolwezi,” Sr. Mutindi added.
She further clarified, “the grant is not a personal donation. The work and impact honored are as a result of lots of concerted efforts and networking both at Bon Pasteur Kolwezi level, nationally as well as internationally; I only happen to be the Program Director.”
Explaining the structures in place to administer the latest funds effectively, Sr. Mutindi underlined the accountability system operational in her organization saying, “There is a very elaborate and transparent system in place that involves an entire team, with internal and external checks and balances.”
The native of Kenya’s Machakos diocese went on to disclose, “The program’s current year’s budget is over US $1million, so handling such an amount is not alien.”
“Additionally, Bon Pasteur Kolwezi is run in collaboration with the Good Shepherd International Foundation (based in Rome at the Congregation’s Generalate), hence as a Program Director, I don’t manage or handle finances,” Sr. Mutindi clarified.
Asked about the criteria her organization employs in recruiting beneficiaries to her project, the nun said that her team “uses a variety of tools that help identify and measure the targeted levels of vulnerability (and) in the context of identification (they use) Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM).”
“There is in place a robust case management, Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems within which results are managed and measured,” the nun who has managed the project for 8 years stated.
Responding to the question of highlighting some of her immediate plans, Sr. Mutindi disclosed, “The project which has been receiving funds through local and international grants for its management is in the process of setting up a social business, that besides providing dignified work and revenue for participants quitting mining activities, will also auto-finance the running of some of the activities.”
The Bon Pasteur’s approach, which Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd is applying to mitigate child labor is a program designed by the congregation, which according to Sr. Mutindi “finds its roots in good community development practice, a human rights value framework, and the prioritization of child protection and women’s empowerment.”
“Importantly the child protection and women’s empowerment components of the work are not stand-alone but central and embedded in the broader approach,” Sr. Mutindi told ACI Africa.
“The encounter and experience with the Opus Prize Foundation, the entire community of St. Louis University and my fellow (the trinity) finalists has been a dance with mystery in affirming the beauty of humanity at its best, true to its essence – images of the Divine,” Sr. Mutindi concluded.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa