The Opus Prize is one of the world’s most prestigious recognitions for faith-based, nonprofit innovation and work. Good Shepherd Sisters around the world celebrated when Sister Catherine Mutindi, RGS, received the $1 million Opus Prize last November. The prize benefits the Bon Pasteur program she began in the Kolwezi cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2012.
Sisters lauded for their work
For those who know Sister Catherine and the work she does, the Opus Prize was no surprise. The DRC government and numerous leading Non-Government Organizations (NGO), including Amnesty International, have recognized the work of the Sisters. Good Shepherd is the only NGO working effectively to address the widespread human rights abuses against children, adolescent girls and women in the Kolwezi communities.
Congolese national and local government offices have lauded the Good Shepherd approach to mitigating child labor as a best practice initiative. So have the UN, UNICEF, the World Bank, World Vision, and representatives of numerous international mining companies,
The Opus Prize is a culmination of a lot of hard work. Sister Catherine started the Bon Pasteur program in the Democratic Republic of Congo after the local bishop had invited her to work with widows and orphans in the city of Kolwezi. She first listened to the community and within 10 months developed a five-year plan. The plan focused on addressing alternative livelihoods to mining, including farming and skills training programs.
Today the Sisters in Kolwezi envision the location as an inclusive and democratic Congolese society where the rights of girls, women and children are protected and promoted. To realize this vision, the Sisters put into place a network of resources.
They have developed an extensive child protection program in Kolwezi, which includes remedial holistic education, psychosocial support, a referral system for abused persons and human rights education.
It is estimated that 60% of all cobalt comes from the Kolwezi mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is used worldwide for batteries and the whole electronic industry. The Good Shepherd Sisters in Kolwezi offer communities alternatives to working in the mines through education, farming, and training programs. The Sisters also offer financial training and provide safe environments for sexually exploited children and women.
The Opus Prize
Each year the Opus Prize is awarded to a leader in faith-based humanitarian work. The prize is one of the world’s most prestigious recognitions for faith-based, nonprofit innovation and work.
Sister Catherine received the award on November 21, 2019, at Saint Louis University’s Center for Global Citizenship. Thirteen Good Shepherd Sisters from the provinces of Mid-North America and Central South attended the event, along with staff from the Good Shepherd International Foundation in Rome.
Learn more about the ceremony and Opus Prize at https://bit.ly/37PAp4s and watch the inspiring video that shows how Good Shepherd Sisters are transforming lives and communities in Kolwezi at https://bit.ly/2ubisyG. Read more stories like this in the province newsletter Items of Interest.