It is with shock and tremendous sadness that I received the news that Sr. Jean Pruitt, the first GNRC Coordinator for Africa, passed away recently. When I met her at the GNRC Fifth Forum in Panama City this May, she was as full of joy, humor and vigor as ever. She has dedicated her entire life to the children for Africa. Her work for and with children has touched countless lives and inspired people like me all around the world.
I first met Sr. Jean, who has run the Dogodogo Center for street children in Tanzania for decades, at the GNRC First Forum in Tokyo in 2000. Thanks to her support, we were able to invite street children served by the Center to the Conference of Children for Coming Generation that we held in Japan in 2000. The presentation made by Mr. George Daniel, one of the street children from the Center, inspired all the participants, including me, and after that, I personally exchanged letters with him for a while.
Sr. Jean was the very first person to translate our vision for interfaith cooperation for children through the Global Network of Religions for Children into specific, grassroots action to change children’s lives in Africa. She organized the East and Southern Africa Network of Religions for Children (ESANRC), the first regional GNRC network in Africa, soon after the GNRC’s inauguration in the year 2000 and served as the first GNRC Coordinator for Africa until Dr. Mustafa Ali, who is now GNRC Secretary General, assumed the position in 2003. She also served as Chair of the Local Hosting Committee and contributed to the successful GNRC Fourth Forum held in Tanzania in 2012. Following the Fifth Forum this year, she has been active in following up on the commitments in the Panama Declaration. Sr. Jean was a bright light, and that light she gave will continue to shine in all of our work.
On behalf of Arigatou International, let me express my sincere condolences to her family, Maryknoll sisters, and to the GNRC Tanzania. We all mourn her and remember her for her tremendous contribution to the GNRC, and to the well-being of children in Africa and around the world.
Farewell, Sr. Jean. We will miss you. Rest in peace.