Sr. Willimena Ayan is a Kenyan Sister of Mercy. She works in the Lokore village, 300 kms east of Lodwar, among the Turkana people in northern Kenya.
The region is known for its backwardness and lack of rains, as well as by its recent social conflicts caused by the oil drilling done by international companies and a wide spread cattle rustling among local groups.
Sr. Ayan teaches Maths and Science from grades 5-8 in the public Girls Primary School. Her pupils are the daughters of poor Turkana shepherds, many of whom have lost their livestock to local groups of bandits. Although the school has very poor facilities, no electricity supply or running water, the girls feel privileged to share a class with some 50 other classmates. There they learn and are also able to get a daily meal that their families cannot normally afford to offer.
Sr. Ayan is a Turkana herself and is very happy teaching those 300 girls at the Lokore village. Despite the poor working conditions and the lack of pedagogical means, she feels energized in her struggle to empower Turkana women. “They are the future of our country”, she shares.
Sr. Ayan comes to Mwangaza Jesuit Centre to do her annual 8-day personally guided retreat since she was a novice in her congregation. “I need to come to Mwangaza to pray in silence and quiet to become more deeply aware of God’s presence in my life and work among the Turkana poor, my people,” she says. “After these days, every year I go back to resume my work among the poorest in northern Kenya full of hope and courage. It is the Lord’s doing”, she adds.