From Nuba Mountains to McAuley Community Services for Women

Nine months ago Sister of Mercy Nicole Rotaru was living in the remote Nuba Mountains in Sudan, working in the primary teacher training institute and Mother of Mercy Hospital among a people seemingly forgotten by the rest of the world. Today she is at McAuley Community Services for Women in Melbourne assisting with the organisation’s national accreditation. The jobs are worlds apart, but Nicole is passionate about both communities and the people they serve.

McAuley Community Services for Women, like any agency providing vital services to people must reach a high standard to be accredited. This year Nicole has looked at government standards and ensured our organisation meets the standards. Her long history with McAuley Community Services for Women meant she was well placed to help with the project during the break from the Nuba Mountains. Nicole was a member of the Sisters of Mercy Melbourne Congregation Leadership team that oversaw the amalgamation of Mercy Care and Regina Coeli, to form McAuley Community Services for Women. Being part of the accreditation team has given her a chance to see how much the organisation has developed in the past six years.

"The decision to amalgamate was made so that the service could be sustained into the future. It has done more than that, it has thrived. We are very lucky as a ministry to have such a dedicated and committed group of people working across all aspects of the organisation to enable other women, and their children, to have another chance,” Nicole said.

The time in Melbourne is almost up and Nicole will return to the Nuba Mountains in January. It’s a place, a wilderness that beckons her even though there is almost no infrastructure, no running water, dirt tracks and limited solar lighting. Drought and bombing by the Khartoum Government has led to famine over the years, yet its people are unbroken and extraordinarily welcoming.

“These people, despite all the things they have to overcome, have a strong sense of hope. They look at what is possible, what might be in the future. Their hope, faith and tenacity have drawn me back.”

Nicole draws on her own tenacious spirit just to get to the Nuba – a three day trip once you fly into Nairobi, Kenya. She returns knowing the risks and dangers of going to a place where bombs fall somewhere in the Nuba every day in a bid to drive the Nuba people off their land. Nicole will return in time to work with the next group of 18 student teachers due to graduate in June 2015. She looks forward to returning to Nuba people, but knows it will only be until the end of May this time.

“I have a deep sense of gratitude being part of the Nuba community. These people have such a deep faith in God and faith that there is good and that goodness will flourish,” she said.

“From time to time on a Friday the students and teachers gather and pray for peace. Every prayer begins with a prayer of gratitude and them asking for change, not just in others, but within their own hearts and minds.”