Sister Joan McManus, of the Sisters of Mercy, who died last Sunday, played a key role the early development of AkiDwA. Sister Joan helped AkiDwA to get started back in 1999, at a time when migrant women in Ireland had no proper place to meet and many of us found to difficult to find anyone we could turn to for support and guidance.
Sister Joan opened doors for us at the Catherine McAuley Centre, that allowed us to take the very first stages on the AkiDwA journey.
Sister Joan with the Kenyan Ambassador Catherine Muigai and Embassy Development Officer Amaka at AkiDwA’s 10th Anniversary Celebration on 23 September 2011 at the Gresham Hotel, Dublin © Brian MacCormaic/Photo-Image
The Catherine McAuley Centre in Herbert Street, Dublin 2 is a Sisters of Mercy Centre dedicated to the development, education and well-being of women in need. Sister Joan guided AkiDwA in practical matters like opening a bank account and finding a lawyer to create a Constitution. She also introduced AkiDwA to funders and to influential people who have helped AkiDwA to make amazing progress.
Sister Joan held our hands when times were tough and she remained supportive over the years.
The photo shows Sister Joan attending AkiDwA’s tenth anniversary celebrations in 2011, when she was presented with an award acknowledging the tremendous support that she had given AkiDwA over the previous decade.
Sister Joan’s help and support enabled AkiDwA to build a vibrant network that represents the interests of women from a huge variety of migrant backgrounds who are living in all corners of Ireland. Her love, persistence and humour helped AkiDwA to keep going in the early days.
The organisation of migrant women that she helped to start more than two decades ago has gone from strength since and AkiDwA is still providing hundreds of women in places all across Ireland with advice, support and training.
Sister Joan with Salome Mbugua in 2017
Sister Joan was always available to provide support for major AkiDwA activities. The second photograph shows Sister Joan in 2017, with our founder Salome Mbugua.
Salome says: “Without her support and inspiration Akidwa wouldn’t be where we are today.
We will dearly miss her physical presence.
May her soul rest in perfect peace”.