Education in Kisenso
By Sister Patience Mpela, SNDdeN
Sr. Ernestine Nkuemu, Directress of the Primary School, does team-teaching with a Co-worker.
Julie Billiart Primary and Secondary School is a traditional Catholic school which the Archdiocese of Kinshasa entrusted to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Located in Kisenso, one of the communes on the outskirts of the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, this school educates today about 1,000 students, boys and girls. The population in Kisenso are mostly people living in poverty, whose principal activities are small businesses and gardening.
Two Sisters collaborate with 21 lay persons at Julie Billiart Primary School in Kisenso. Sister Ernestine Nkuemu, SNDdeN is the Directress and Sister Godeliève Ziunga, SNDdeN is a substitute teacher. Their dedicated Co-workers are an Assistant Director, 18 teachers, a maintenance worker and a watchman.
Little children love the happy learnings at Julie Billiart Primary School.
This school administered and directed now by our SNDdeN, is the work of a Belgian missionary to the Congo and pastor of St. Ambrose Parish, Father Frans Vereecke. In 2000, this priest, greatly concerned for the large population and their children who live in this enclave, founded for the parish Saint Ambrose Primary School. Although there were schools in the area, there was not any school offering quality education for the children. Knowing the SNDdeN and having confidence in their reputation for quality education, this priest judged that it would be good to entrust the direction of the school to our Congregation. The school was renamed in 2007 to Julie Billiart Primary School and in these later years with the expansion, the classification of Secondary was added to the school’s name.
Secondary School children appreciate their choices of teaching, biochemistry and commercial studies.
When the Sisters arrived, many parents wished to entrust their children to benefit from a good education in this setting. The school began with two classes (first and second grade). Little by little, other classes were added. This Primary School grew to a Secondary School with 18 classes today for all these children. The students have three options for studies: teaching, biochemistry and commercial. At the end of the secondary level, the students achieve positive results in the state exams.
Sister Odette Lukongi, Directress of the Secondary School, collaborates with qualified teachers to direct and teach at the school.
Sr. Odette Lukongi is the Directress of Julie Billart Secondary School;
she also teaches Religious Education classes. She works in collaboration with a faculty who are mostly lay people. She often shares with students the life and charism of St. Julie, and the international Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, the educational system has experienced upheaval. The academic calendar has changed and students do not have vacations at the scheduled times, now adjusted to local circumstances.
Parents, students and teachers are happy to have the presence and educational expertise of the Sisters and recognize that their Co-workers contribute so much to the school. Parents appreciate the formation and solid education for their children.
Health Care Center in Mpese
By Sister Aline Matsanga, SNDdeN, Director
Mpese Health Center is one of the health facilities of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in the Congo- Kinshasa Province. Established in Central Congo in the Diocese of Kisantu, this Center is more than 100 km from Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Three Sisters collaborate with three Co-workers to serve a large population, with inpatient and outpatient medical care. This Health Center provides for Mpese and the surrounding area some relief to the population who are so far away from any medical referrals and lacks transport to reach the hospital. The Staff at the Center treats sick children and adults alike, does pre-natal consultations for pregnant
women, delivers the newborns in the region, and enables pre-school consultations for children before school age. It also cares for those with diabetes and other chronic illnesses.
Sister Aline Matsanga is the Director of Mpese Health Center and a qualified nurse. She receives nursing support from Sister Nadine Miesi, also a trained nurse and Sister Hélène Lugungu who is an experienced mid-wife.
Three qualified Co-workers, a nurse, laboratory technician and a mid-wife collaborate with the Sisters in this Center for care and wellness of many people in this area. All personnel, in order to upgrade their training and skills, benefit from additional training organized by the SNDdeN Office for the Coordination and Capacity Building of Medical Works, an organization in the Nselo Health Zone.
The majority of the population are farmers whose livelihood results from agricultural produce. Their socio-economic situation does not allow the people to receive appropriate heath care. Sometimes, they are only able to pay for medical care and treatments with the produce from the crops in their fields.
The Sisters and lay nurses are the care-givers not only at the Health Center. They even go to the villages to do consultations with the elderly, who are not able to come to the center. The do not have money for transportation and health-care costs. The Sisters provide free medical services for many people living in poverty. They also go into villages for pre-school consultations for children who need any medical follow-up.
It is impossible to know the far-reaching impact of these six health-care workers and these twenty-four educators in this part of the Congo! They bring the life and spirit of St. Julie Billiart and the Mission of the Congregation through such a vibrant collaboration.