Nyumba Ya Wazee
Our Begging Tradition
To provide for the needs of the elderly, our foundress walked the roads seeking alms. Knocking on doors, she asked for money and gifts in kind – whatever was needed for her poor. She was recognized by the begging basket she carried. She believed that because God is our Father, all men and women are brothers and sisters – members of one family – and thus responsible for one another. Jeanne sought to involve people from many walks of life in the care of the elderly, gratefully accepting whatever they could contribute in time, treasure or talent. Jeanne Jugan trusted in Divine Providence. In her old age, she intervened at a decisive moment in our history to ensure that the Congregation would never accept guaranteed forms of income. To do so, she felt, would betray our trust in Providence. To this day, we do not accept any form of permanent income. To some people this seems insane. Our survival for over 175 years is proof of the effectiveness of Jeanne’s unique form of strategic planning!
Just as Jeanne Jugan was recognized by her begging basket, today’s begging Little Sisters are known by the van in which they make their daily rounds visiting businesses and markets asking for food and other commodities to help offset our operating expenses. On weekends they visit local parishes to ask for support. They plan mailings and organize fund raising events in favor of our homes. These Little Sisters carry on the tradition of begging so dear to Jeanne Jugan. Jeanne always thanked her benefactors by praying for them – and she thanked God at the same time. “God has blessed me,” she said, “because I always thanked his Providence… What gratitude we owe our benefactors … What could we do for the elderly without them?”
Like Saint Jeanne Jugan, we recognize that our benefactors are indispensable partners in our mission. And like her, we pray for them every day!