PRESENTATION PRESENCE IN ZAMBIA
The following is a brief history of Presentation Presence in Zambia leading up to the formation of a Vice-Province in 1989 made up of Sisters from India, Ireland and England.
While the names of those first 'pioneering' sisters are mentioned, others who came later will be mentioned in a separate section.
Western Province/ Mongu
In February 1970, at the end of the Nigerian/Biafran Civil War, and after three weeks of house arrest, all Presentation Sisters were deported from Nigeria with no hope of return. One of the Sisters, Cecelia Thackaberry, died in that War.
Within a short time of their return to England the Sisters received an invitation to go and work with the Holy Cross Sisters in Mongu, Western Province, Zambia. On acceptance of that invitation our Zambian mission began on September 10, 1970 with the arrival Srs. Gertrude, Elizabeth and Aiden.
An extract from the Annals of the Presentation Sisters, Buxton, England July, 1970 gives us a little insight into the political atmosphere of the time: "There is a growing concern on the part of Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Keyna at the idea that England might renew the sale of arms to South Africa and this could spark off anti-British feeling in East Africa."
In this very isolated area of Zambia the Sisters worked to alleviate the basic needs of the people and within a short time 27 nutrition depots were established in the outlying areas where lack of roads made travel and food supply very difficult - but for those first sisters, nothing seemed impossible.
Western Province / Kaoma
When their 5 year contract was up, on the invitation of the Bishop, the Sisters moved to Kaoma about 200 kms. from Mongu to continue their service to the people of the Western Province. By now Sr. Teresa Molloy had joined the sisters. Sr. Ignatius Thackberry ( sister of Cecelia) came to Kaoma in 1976. Some Sisters taught in the Secondary school and nursed in the hospital , as the years passed others became involved in pastoral, developmental and pre-school activities. In 1983 Srs Teresa and Marie Bray returned to Mongu to run a Cheshire Home for Physically Challenged children of the area where up to that time there was no outside help for the parents and families of these children.
Southern Province Zambia/ Kasiya
Meanwhile in the Southern Province Bishop James Corboy S.J. invited Presentation Sisters from Ireland to take over a Secretarial College from the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa in a place called Kasiya. In March of 1973 Sr. Peter Horan from Kerry arrived in Kasiya and soon after took over the Principalship of the College. In September of that year she was joined by Srs. Rita O'Doherty and Catherine Campion from what is now the Nothern Province of Ireland.
In a short time the Sisters began to reach out beyond the college to minister to the people of the area through : Primary Health Care; Preventative Health Medicine; Development Educational Programmes; Catechetical and Retreat Work to name but some areas of work and responsibility both at local and diocesan level.
In 1980 tragedy struck the small community when Sr. Mary Kavanagh, just 10 months in the country, was killed in a car accident. Pemba is a small town about 11kms west of Kasiya and in 1987 Srs. Nora, Catherine and Annette came to live there, extending the mission involvement of the Sisters in that area.
The Sichili Mission Southern Province
In 1981,the Bishop of Livingstone, Zambia, was in India requesting priests for his dioceses. As a result of a chance meeting with some Presentation Sisters, Srs. Suma, Cecily, Lynette and Lucy arrived in Zambia in September 1983. Their destination was Sichili one of the most remote and poorest areas of Zambia on the edge of the Kalahari desert.
Other Sisters joined the mission and for seventeen years the sisters ministered in Sichili and surrounding areas. While the hospital was one of the main ministries the sisters also taught in the local Secondary school, and were involved in Pastoral, Catechetical and Development work. They oversaw the Leprosy programme until the few remaining patients were rehabilitated to their own homes.
One 26th April 1987 some Sisters moved into Linda Parish in Livingstone. While fully involved in the parish, local school and Dioceses the Sisters in Linda also provided a vital link with their mission in Sichili since one had to travel to Livingstone for many essential commodities and amenities, also patients had to be brought to the hospital.
England, Ireland and India were three separate working units in Zambia, but bonded by a common charism. After many years of supporting one another through friendship the three groups met in January 1986 for a time of sharing and prayer.
By the end of the meeting it was agreed to work together towards forming one unit and begin the formation process towards the acceptance of young Zambian women into the group.
On the 26th of April 1989, Sr. Elizabeth Starken and the Provincials of the three groups met in Kasiya for the inauguration of the new Vice-Province of Zambia.