The mission in Chikukwe was founded on the initiative of Fr. Cardinal Polycarp Pengo. It was he who insisted that the sisters of Mary Immaculate build a formation house closer to the city and to the hospital. Mother General Angela Kuboń made efforts to ensure that the Congregation in Tanzania had a novitiate house in a convenient place so that the formation of the sisters could run smoothly and safely. Land was bought from the villagers. The construction itself took 4 years. The house is large and stately for Africa. At first everyone thought it was too big, but now we can thank God that it is enough for the sisters. There are no problems with a place for retreats, formations and religious celebrations.
After the sisters settled in Chikukwe Monastery, they began to develop the area around the mission. It took a lot of work and effort to level the entire area, dig ditches so that the rain had a safe outlet and did not damage the building. One of the Salvatorian priests worked and lived on our mission for a year, serving as chaplain. But his ministry was not limited to celebrating Holy Mass and church services, he lectured in the novitiate and also dealt with the arrangement of the missions. He supervised the employees and planned all the work that needed to be done himself. It was a real blessing for the Chikukwe mission. The area was leveled, drainage ditches were dug in the rainy season, grass was sown and trees and bushes were planted. The beginnings of the mission were difficult, because there were few sisters, the house was large and there were always some problems, e.g. the roof in the chapel leaked in the rainy season, the underground tanks for rainwater broke, etc., it was still necessary to react and repair the defects. Sister Vianneya Rogowska, who was the regional superior at that time, had a lot of work and great responsibility, in her letters to sisters in Poland, she repeatedly asked for new missionaries, because the enormous amount of work seemed to be beyond her strength.
In October 1998, S.M. Alma Białek came to Tanzania. and in January 1999 S.M. Natalia Kozieł. The sisters started formation immediately: Sr. Alma looked after the candidates and postulants in Nanjota, and Sr. Natalia was appointed novice mistress, replacing Sr. Wilma’s console.
During the 1999 general chapter, S.M. Alma Białek was elected Mother General, therefore, after a year of working in missions, she returned to Europe. The sisters in Africa were very happy that the missionary became Mother General. In her formation work with the candidates, she was replaced by Sr. M. Magdalena Zabłotna.
The Chikukwe mission grew not only economically. The sisters took up work in the parish, leading prayer groups for children, teenagers and adults. However, living in the south of Tanzania, and in the village, automatically forced me to start working in the land. There people breed cows, goats, pigs, and grow corn, peanuts and cashews. In order to provide themselves with food, the sisters undertook the same jobs that the indigenous people still do today.
There were also new ideas and activities for the Chikukwe mission:
Chikukwe village is very large, with many families and many children. In response to the needs of this village, the sisters organized a kindergarten under the shelter, which was used to dry corn. The roof was ready and the classes were temporarily separated by making walls of bamboo sticks. Every day around 200 children waited happily at the mission gate to be opened for them. The sisters took care of the children, offering them education and food. Thanks to the sisters’ forethought, it was possible to build a kindergarten and for several years children under the care of their teachers have had classes tailored to their needs and conducted in real classes.
Around the mission, outside its walls, the sisters cultivate a few hectares of fields. At first, corn was planted, but it was all very provisional. On the advice of one of the Salvatorian priests, the fields were cleared and a cashew tree plantation was planted. It required a lot of effort and skills, and the work took several months.
With the great commitment of the generalate and sisters from Germany, the Chikukwe mission received agricultural machinery: a new tractor with a trailer, a cultivator plow, a seeder and a machine for squeezing oil from sunflower seeds.
A corn mill and a rice cleaning machine were purchased. Initially, the sisters used the machines for their own use, but after some time they decided to make them available to the residents, of course for a fee. It is a huge help, because back then there was no such possibility, and now people got used to the sisters’ ‘kusaga’ (translated from Swahili into English: the mill).
The sisters developed a breeding of cows and pigs. The expansion of the farm contributed to the provision of basic needs, such as obtaining food for the community, but also became an opportunity to work for the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. In this way, people learn from the sisters to work on the land, use machines, which allows them to improve field work and generate higher yields.
Africa is a continent that faces a huge problem of water scarcity. There was always a shortage of water in Chikukwe. This is the main problem. Our Mission was supposed to function thanks to rainwater. After all, there were huge underground water tanks that could hold thousands of liters of water. However, the rains are not as heavy as expected. Besides, our house is large, a whole farm and a large community of sisters. From the very beginning, attempts were made to dig wells in search of drinking water. However, once the water was salty, the second time it was scarce. But it was always helpful for a while. The mission was finally connected to the water flowing from Ndanda to Masasi. However, here too there were breakdowns and a lack of water again and again. There were months when the sisters washed in the river and the water was transported by tractor from the river in barrels, and every drop was precious. You had to wash in a bowl and use the water to flush the toilet or for watering.
Water of Sr. Dulcissima.
A deep well has been dug in the area of the mission. However, it was closed because it turned out that the water was salty and contained compounds harmful to humans.
“In 2009, during my stay in Rome, I came to Poland with Sr. Dorota Frendenberg and Sr. Flora Komba in May or June. We were also in Brzezie, where S.M. Dulcissima Hoffmann rests. There was Sr. Paulina, whom I remember well, because she told us with great passion about the life of Sr. Dulcissima. She told about the miracles that happen because of her. Before our departure, Sr. Paulina gave us soil from the tomb of Sr. M. Dulcissima, so that we could take it with us to Tanzania. The time of our visit to Poland ended, so we returned to Rome, and when the time of studying was over, we finally returned to Africa. There was a well at the Chikukwe mission that nobody used because the water was very salty and had some harmful compounds. After some time, I remembered about Sr.M. Dulcissima’s miracles through her intercession and about the soil I had somewhere in my suitcase. I thought myself: since Dulcissima helps people with different needs, why not help us? If there was even a little less salt in it, so that we could use it for cleaning? With this in mind, I went to the well, taking the soil from her grave. For three days I went to the place where the well was, prayed through Sr. Dulcissima for healing the water and I threw some soil, which I had in the bag, into the well. I’ve told a few sisters about it, but I don’t remember exactly which one anymore.
After some time, Sr. Klaudia Olejniczak, who was the superior of the community at the time, said that we must try to use the water from the well, even though it is salty, because there is a problem with the water and we have no other choice. Imagine for our surprise it turned out that the water was not as salty as was before. It was a real joy and celebration. We started watering the garden and fruit trees and there was no end to our surprise, because the vegetables grew beautifully and the oranges were sweet and plump. Then I told the sisters that a few months earlier I had poured soil from the grave of Sr. Dulcissima into the well, asking her for the miracle of healing (cleansing) the water.
We all firmly believe that our sister’s intercession obtained for us the grace of pure water and we call this well: SISTER DULCISSIMA’S WELL (S.M. Helena Chialo)
Sisters on a mission in Chikukwe work in kindergarten, teach in primary school, run a sacristy in the parish, and lead prayer groups for children, teenagers and adults.
All the time they try to meet the needs of young people by creating VIJANA CLUB – Youth Club: first there was a football team to encourage young people to spend their free time actively and well. There were also matches between the villages and the sisters were cheering along with the inhabitants. It was a good time for everyone: activity for young people and entertainment for others. There was time for a music band, but also the opportunity to watch football games together during the World Cup and other films. The sisters are constantly trying to reach the young people, motivating them to study and work. We managed to help many people to get an education, and the girls took sewing lessons from us.
The sisters work for the development of the mission in all levels, and through apostolic work among the inhabitants, they try to ensure that the mission receives a permanent income.
Sr. Miriam Kusek sews liturgical vestments and introduces the Tanzanian sisters to the adventure of sewing and introduces them to the secrets of tailoring.