What is your role in Holy Spirit Region?
In January 2019, I joined the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the Director, Cabrini Ministries Africa. In this role, I support our programs in the Holy Spirit Region to deliver quality services. In the first 2 years of my role, I focused on the specific role of Executive Director, Cabrini Ministries Eswatini where we worked hard to build a three year pipeline of funding and built our unrestricted funds to over SZL1 million. We also grew and diversified our funding, that sees our budget grow to at least SZL16 million in 2021. At this time, our work focuses more in strengthening mission integration so that the love of Christ may be evident in all that we do as an organization.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am an international development practitioner with more than 15 years’ experience working with international and local NGOs at management level. I see myself as an agent of change, helping the poor and marginalized change their worldview from poverty to pursue the opportunities available for them to transform their lives. My expertise is in program management, as evidenced by over 15 years of success in supporting the delivery of quality programs on time, scope and budget. I have extensive experience working on health and HIV/AIDS programs, where I have successfully provided management support to programs, establishing functional teams, providing supportive supervision and staff mentoring, providing financial and grants management oversight.
And your family?
I am the thirdborn in a family of six children (3 boys and 3 girls). My father is a businessman in the trucking industry whilst my mum is a dressmaker. I have now been blessed with my own family that I raise with Philile Vilakati, my wife since January 2006. My family is now based in USA where we rent a flat in Alexandria, Virginia. We both have the pleasure of raising 4 children (2 boys and 2 girls). My eldest son, Mlungisi, is back Eswatini, my daughter, Lungiswa, is in her 4th year of studying medicine, my thirdborn daughter, Lenhle, is studying grade 9 and my youngest son, Kuyenzeka, is in grade 6. We have established our permanent home in Ntabamhloshana, Eswatini, although the family is currently based in the USA. In Eswatini we have membership at the International Tabernacle church, while in the USA we go to the Northern Virginia Church (NOVA church). I enjoy cooking for my family, especially my youngest son’s favorite dish, ground beef with rice. My favorite sport is soccer and I follow Manchester United in the English Premier league.
Your Cabrini History – how did you meet the MSCs?
In March 2009, I started working for Pact Eswatini as Programs Officer. In my work as the Programs Officer I supported partners implementing programs, including Cabrini Ministries, under the support of Pact. I enjoyed the long trips to St Phillips to work with the team to strengthen their systems and also appreciated the amount of work that goes into the excellent results we celebrated with Cabrini Ministries. At the time, Cabrini Ministries had managed to reduce the defaulter rate on HIV treatment to less than 1% when many other partners were struggling with tracking and retaining patients on ART. The sense of humor from both Sr Diane and Sr Barbara about their experiences in the field were always a pleasure to listen to. In November 2012, I left Pact Eswatini to join Pact in Washington, DC and lost contact with Cabrini Ministries. It was not until June 2017 that we connected with Cabrini Ministries again through Sr Barbara. That reconnection led to my change of jobs from Pact to Cabrini Ministries in January 2019.
What do you hope for with HSR?
I hope that one day the world, especially the HSR, would come to experience the love of Christ through our works. I see our Region delivering quality services that transform people’s lives.
What are your dreams for the future? I dream of a world unified by the love of Christ that cuts through all the barriers of race, color, gender, religion. A world where we all live together in peace, sharing in all the gifts, talents and opportunities that God has given unto mankind. Cabrini Ministries has the ability to be an agent of this change and transformation in our world.
(Thanks to Phesh and Sr. Laura MSC for this interview)