A slice of life

Sister Milgitha, born Paula Kösser the 26th of June 1936 in Munster (Germany), comes from a family of six children: three boys and three girls. Her family is well off: her father is in charge of large forestry estates belonging to German barons. Milgitha arrives in Rwanda the 5th of September 1973, after the Bishop of Butare requested the help of the religious community to build a health centre in Kaduha. At that time, the parish of Kaduha reported to the diocese of Butare till the creation of the diocese of Gikongoro, in 1992.

The order of the Sisters of Mercy has no missionary aim, but Sister Milgitha and her sister in the same order, Quirina, are enthusiastic about the idea of following their ministry in Africa. Nurses by training, the two sisters want to help the countries that need it the most. They stay a few months in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where they learn, Kinyarwanda. As soon as they arrive in Kaduha beginning of 1974, they are put to the test: life is completely different from in Munster. There is no electricity no telephone, no television no radio and no running water.

With a lot of will, energy, courage and their unshakeable faith in God, the two sisters roll up their sleeves and start building a health centre, with a reference hospital, in the region. In a rural area where most households live beneath the poverty threshold, this work really contributes to helping the standard of living of the population and the social development of the region.

When she arrives in Kaduha, Sister Milgitha can already manage in Kinyarwanda; but thanks to her multiple exchanges with the local population, she speaks the language fluently after only a few months. Therefore, even before the genocide, Sister Milgitha is considered as a foreign nun of great humanity, that saves daily, in her health centre, several pregnant women and children.