Cabrini Ministries has formed a strong partnership with Swaziland that dates back to 1971. They are providing hope for Swazis through different services to help those affected by HIV and AIDS. That’s only a fraction of goes on in Lubombo, Swaziland.
“We really pride ourselves on partnership,” Dr. Anne Skleder, provost for academic affairs, said. “We look for ways to connect with others in ways that will be mutually beneficial that will help our students and faculty grow, and what our partner thinks is worthwhile.”
The partnership is evolving and has major aspects that go with it. Building capacity among the teachers who run the after-school programs is one important factor. Teachers have come for the past three years each January from the ministries for an intensive learning experience with Cabrini’s faculty. Staff from Cabrini has also been sent over to Swaziland to learn new teaching methods and use of technology.
The marketing and external relations play an important role in this partnership as well. A team of colleagues were brought in to make a video, which is up on the website. The purpose of this video is to help the Cabrini Ministries in additional grant funding. They wanted to show possible future donors what the impact is.
Dr. Barenbaum, psychology professor, is working on a major project where she interviewed children this summer in Swaziland. Her goal is to see how students who are at the ministries are impacted by what happens when they are co-parented in their homesteads and at the ministries, from a psychological and social standpoint.
“The goal is essentially how to demonstrate that children who were once afraid, unattached and depressed are now engaged, trusting and have friends,” Skleder said. This is not an easy task, especially for a place that has little psychological testing.
Moving forward, this partnership is looking at opportunities for an immersion experience at Cabrini Ministries that Cabrini students can offer. “We’re not quite there yet; we are working on that and that is on our agenda now,” said Skleder.
“It’s not necessarily about what can the student do but what can the experience do for the student in the long run,” Ben Kickert, development and grant coordinator, said.
Kickert believes an immersion experience with a group of students can help shape students, allowing them to use their skills and engage in critical thinking.
Both Cabrini and the ministries have to be ready before this plan is in full effect. There are so many different details that need to be addressed such as preparing students, selecting them, and the overall environment change.
Sister Barbara Staley, deputy executive director, and Sister Diane DalleMolle, executive director, will be coming in October and will attend some classes and possibly teach a class. Having them around campus will be a positive visit and from there the future can be discussed further.
“It will be a tremendous opportunity to go beyond tourism. It’s about being in solidarity with others and learning. Everybody brings assets to the table,” Skleder said.