Poverty and the lack of work options and resources make Economic Development a vital ministry for some Maryknoll Sisters.
In Zimbabwe, one Maryknoll Sister with a degree in agriculture helps orphans of parents with AIDS grow some vegetables, raise some rabbits, maintain a spiritual focus for themselves, and learn to care for others. They engage in sustainable agriculture and develop self-reliance. Another member in community development works with street vendors in Namibia. Organic agriculture is taught in Panama as well as a medicinal plants project that gives farmers a chance to grow and sell.
These plants can be dried, processed and sold by the people themselves, using no intermediaries. Basic bookkeeping is taught and a small savings and loans project for family farms, encouraged. Another Maryknoll Sister with degrees in agriculture and agronomy works with Aymara farmers in the highlands of Peru and has been a member of the Institute for Rural Education.
In Africa, a Maryknoll Sister initiated a cottage industry where young women, orphans of parents with AIDS, learn to be self-reliant, making sweaters, school uniforms, vestments, cards, necklaces, and other goods. They learn how to apply for small loans to set up small businesses to support their families.
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