Witness of a Sister, the latest to arrive.

I am Sister Maria Irma, of the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King in Venice. I shall tell you briefly about my arrival in Kabul.

On 4 April 2012 I said a rather wistful goodbye to the St Claire Fraternity in Assisi, and to the city itself, so rich in spirituality, so full of pilgrims. There had been joyful friendships, a happy sharing of values with those who were guests in our house … but it was time to leave them. I arrived here a day later, transplanted suddenly into a country visibly still at war, even though it is always called “defence”.

The territory is situated on a high plain, some 1,800 metres in altitude. It is barren and brown even in springtime. Fine, clayish dust is everywhere, but good weather comes quickly, promising a sun that burns but purifies.

I arrived with a Dominican Sister of St Catherine of Siena, and we found two sisters here, who greeted us with great warmth. With us was Br. Carlo, Guanelliano, the Legal Representative of the PBK Project; he had come from Nazareth to spend a few days with us.

It was Holy Thursday, 2012. To celebrate Easter in a country and among a people so torn by discord and poverty gave me an intense experience of the Jewish Passover in community and the Christian Paschal Triduum in the Italian Embassy, which houses the only Catholic church authorised to offer worship.

There are none of the great celebrations of the Paschal Triduum in public; indeed, there must be no sign of them. We even dress like the Afghan women.

The Centre opened again after Easter. The staff and the children gave us a festive welcome, and we were gradually introduced to the way things are done here. Three kisses for women, with the customary greeting; hand on the heart when we greet men; any way is acceptable for children, but they are good at giving a handshake and the characteristic “Salam”.


As a religious community, we live rather “in the convent”, because we have to be very prudent when going out of the house.

We are responsible for organising the Centre and its educational work, along with the Afghani teachers and workers. We are also with the children when they are at play, when they are together for collective activities, and when they eat. You should see their lunchtime! The children sit cross-legged on the ground, (I forgot to say that the whole area is covered with carpets, and we do not wear shoes inside). The children are given a glass plate full of … first course, second course, bread and fruit… and off they go! Anything that falls on the floor is gathered up – nothing is wasted. And there must always be tea to drink – that is very special!

There is never time to be bored. The children always need help, and the young teachers need advice.

From time to time we meet the few other religious who, like us, offer a service in Kabul.

We are in contact with the Italian Embassy, where we go for Mass. On Sundays, it is good to see the church full of Christians (both Catholic and Protestant) who work at the various Embassies, or in the Military, or in other NGOs.


This year the Centre is receiving and organising school for 35 mentally-disabled children from 6-12 years of age. In this country, public schools are poorly organised and equipped and under-staffed, and these children are not accepted there. At the Centre we help them to achieve independence in dressing themselves, in matters of personal hygiene, in eating, and in their relationships; and language skills are developed. Those children who are capable of it are helped to acquire the rudiments of reading, writing and counting. A few, after a year or two at the Centre, manage to integrate into normal schools.

I thank the Lord for giving me this missionary experience. I trust that all will go well, and that I shall be able to continue.

Sister M. Irma fcr

Kabul, 26 September 2012


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2 Responses to "Witness of a Sister, the latest to arrive."

  1. sonia e alessia scrive:

    Complimenti per il vostro operato, ci vuole un bel po’ di coraggio per affrontare una realtà così difficile.
    Ancora più forza ci vuole se non si è più giovanissimi!!!
    Coraggio state facendo un buon lavoro e continuate così con entusiasmo e voglia di fare,
    non scoraggiatevi.
    Un saluto a tutti e un abbraccio particolare a S. Irma dato che siamo la nipote e pronipote.
    Sonia e Alessia

  2. frate andrea scrive:

    care sorelle, sono contento di leggere il vostro sito, siete davvero messaggeri di pace e di riconciliazione fra i popoli facendo il bene secondo il messaggio francescano vi siamo vicine dal nostro eremo
    ciao andrea e fratelli della comunità

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