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Caterina Dolci – Jalingo, Taraba State, Nigeria

altSister Caterina Dolci arrived in 1985 in Kona, the village of 4,000 people near Jalingo in Nothern Nigeria that has become the new home of the Italian-born Sister of the Congregation of the Child Jesus. In her 27 years, she has responded to the needs of the people she has met: she helped to establish the New Seed, a local non-profit organization, to open and manage a preschool and kindergarten at the request of the parents in the small village of Kona; she assists in the operation of St. Monica preschool and elementary school in the larger city Jalingo; and she makes regular visits to the inmates of Jalingo prison. Under her direction, the New Seed schools now serve 192 students, accepting children from any religion and background, those from unstable households, orphans, and those from surrounding villages where there are no schools. Many benefit from a partnership Dolci has facilitated with the international non-governmental organization AVSI Foundation and its Distance Support Program to provide school supplies or fees for those most in need. It is in this way that she has helped to spread peace in an area of Nigeria currently plagued with violence among Christians and Muslim extremists: the method of an education to openness starting from the inherent dignity of each human person. Dolci witnesses to the results in her words commenting on the reaction in Taraba State where she lives after a series of attacks in Christian churches at the end of 2011: “Christians and Muslims are meeting together to defend each other. The recent attacks caused them to reflect, and now they are fighting for a united Nigeria, protecting churches and mosques.”

The kindergarten founded by Sr. Caterina was the first place that the children from Kona, a village 3 miles away from Jalingo, saw a cement floor for the first time. This kindergarten had 77 children enrolled even before it opened, and it now has 192. With help from Distance Support and AVSI, it has grown into something amazing. As a matter of fact, the idea of a kindergarten had never entered Sr. Caterina’s head. It was the people who asked her, “Sister why don’t we open a kindergarten?” And she said yes. In front of this people, Sr. Caterina continues to respond rather than imposing an idea with which she arrived 27 years ago. In fact, she assures us that from the beginning she has been aware that "Nigeria is a mystery" and so she is ready to discover how a people constuct together, day by day.

Read more:

AVSI in Nigeria

Additional Information:

(in English)

Traces Magazine “Asking for Life Amidst the Huts” July 2009

(in Italian)

Tempi” Recent Violence in Nigeria, Feb 2012

Tracce March 2010 “Attacks against Christians to take over the land”