At the age of 71, Sister Chrétienne Nibbelke is the youngest of the Franciscan Sisters of Heythuysen in the Netherlands and a member of its Stuurgroep Giftenbeleid (Donations Policy Steering Committee). In 2007, this congregation decided to support Mama Cash with a substantial annual sum of money and has done so seven years in a row now. ‘This is because what Mama Cash ties in beautifully with our intentions.’
‘In the Netherlands, we’re with a total of 67 sisters. In our early years, we all had good jobs and worked hard. We have now retired. However, we continue to share our possessions with others who are in need of them. As followers of Francis of Assisi, we are especially committed to helping people on the margins of society. And because we are women ourselves, we are also particularly sympathetic towards women. As religious women – sometimes referred to as nuns in hushed voices, although we prefer not to use that word – we have benefited from being able to work and live independently. We have also been able to develop ourselves. We think it’s important to offer other women the opportunity to do so as well.
We are extremely enamoured of the freshness that Mama Cash exudes and her responsible way of working. Mama Cash focuses, just as we do, on people that are at the margins of society and structures that are oppressive, and initiatives that are often small in scale and innovative. We appreciate the fact that the fund doesn’t just play safe. Too little happens if you do that. You have to dare to be a pioneer! Moreover, Mama Cash covers areas where we have no contacts ourselves. Last year, part of our Mama Cash contribution went to the ‘Justice for All Organization’ in Afghanistan. That gives us a reason to delve deeper into such a country and what is going on there. In this way, we remain alert and engaged with the world! We also pass on what we learn from Mama Cash to our partners elsewhere. In Tanzania, for example, we have drawn our sisters’ attention to the way in which the ‘Women Fund Tanzania – Empowering Local Heroes’ stimulates women to be more confident of themselves. Our fellow sisters in a country such as Tanzania must also deal with a male-dominated culture. It helps if they see how you can handle this in a productive way.
“Giving away” money is not difficult as such, but it takes a lot of work to determine whether a project is well put together. That’s why we went in search of funds that were well suited to us in 2007. In the field of offering support to women, that turned out to be Mama Cash.’