“Today, I was very aware of our girls as I was receiving the award. I pray that I am paving the way for them. My hope and dream is to see one of them with this award in the future.”
All connected with the Loreto Australia and South East Asia Province delight in this massive honour conferred on Sr Orla in recognition of her courage in establishing schools and welfare support for girls and young women in war ravaged South Sudan.
She was nominated by Callista Gingrich, Ambassador to the Holy See, on a recommendation from the De La Salle Brothers whom recently started a school in our community. During the ceremony, Naw K’nyaw Paw of Burma, spoke on behalf of all the women being awarded, telling her story of courage, and ending with a poem which reflected on the fact that women of courage prepare the way for others to be brave and to fight for a better world.
When asked about the award, Sr Orla said, “This award belongs to the young women of South Sudan with whom I have the privilege of working. Our students embody all that is courageous – they are young women of vision, strength and hope. Young women who dream of a better country for themselves and their families, who are prepared to challenge old structures and work towards making South Sudan great. I am grateful to all who have made this possible.
Our work in South Sudan is not possible without the ongoing support of our partners, our wider Loreto family, past pupils, students, staff and our local community in Rumbek. Our Church leaders, community leaders and local government leaders have all played a significant role in supporting our mission.”
In 2006, Sr Orla joined other Loreto Sisters who were starting a new mission in Rumbek, South Sudan. Touched by the plight of girls who were being forced into early marriage and denied the right to an education, she took action. Sister Orla and the Loreto Sisters started a girls-only boarding school with 35 students.
Today, Sr Orla serves as the head administrator of the Loreto Rumbek Mission in Maker Kuei. The Loreto Rumbek Mission consists of three core programs:
- Community based co-educational school with nearly 1,200 children
- All girls secondary boarding school with around 300 girls
- Women and child-centric Primary Health Care Unit (PHCU) which provides around 1,600 clinical consultations each month
The mission is currently supported by two additional Loreto Sisters – Sr Penina from Kenya and Sr Baida from India.
After receiving the award, Sr Orla expressed her hope for the girls at Loreto, “Today, I was very aware of our girls as I was receiving the award. I pray that I am paving the way for them. My hope and dream is to see one of them with this award in the future.”
She added, “I spoke with one of our former students this morning and I shared my hope that a South Sudanese young woman would have the honour of receiving this award one day.”
Sr Orla was accompanied at the ceremony by her father, Blaise Treacy, brother, Eamon Treacy, fellow Loreto Sister from Bray, Ireland, Sr Anne Mary Murphy ibvm, and Candacia Greeman representing the staff and students of Loreto Rumbek.
Her father noted, “I was very privileged to be present and I am very proud as a father,” while her brother spoke of how proud their mother would have been to see Sr Orla honoured in this way.
Sr Anne Mary ibvm, who previously served in the Loreto Rumbek mission spoke of the impact of the ceremony. “I was really moved to see so many women from all over the world – from so many cultures being honoured. What really struck me was the fact that these women were representing the many other women who work hard serving the vulnerable. I was also thinking of our girls in South Sudan who are setting out to do something great – preparing to work hard for their country,” she explained.
The Loreto community stands in awe of Sr Orla’s colleagues and students as they commit to a future full of hope – a future of educated poised and passionate Sudanese women.