Category Archives: Africa

Alive with Mission: Priority for Education


Srs. Dorice Sumbati Shisali, Judith Esther Onditi, Theckler Mwaka, Susan Libendi, Magdaline Mikwa and Maximilla Mutuba, SNDdeN plan together with joyful excitement at NDEC.

By Sister Judith Esther Onditi, SNDdeN, Deputy Head Teacher

In 2010, the Mission of the Gospel inspired Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) to open Notre Dame Educational Centre (NDEC) in Malava, Kenya. Six Sisters, assisted by our aspirants and postulants, serve about 300 pupils, from early childhood to class 8. NDEC’s motto, Educating for Life, promotes St. Julie Billiart’s educational ideals of a holistic education. The Centre attracts many students in a learner friendly approach to education, different from the exam-oriented system in Kenyan schools. We view learner-oriented education as creative and practical. Fully engaged, the student takes an active role and centre stage in his/her own learning process. This stretches the learner in every area and involves different activities, including technology or applied technical know-how. The student discovers new horizons and disentangles his/her own capabilities, while applying new skills to achieve the greatest potential.

We, SNDdeN, appreciate this Competency Based curriculum, now used in Kenyan schools, enabling full participation of students with creative discoveries in the learning process. Our learners, even outside the confines of formal education, become creative in manipulating positively their environment. As facilitators in the learning process, our Sisters realize that we are not only teaching for now but we are preparing future and responsible citizens, ready to apply knowledge and to find solutions to everyday problems.

Sr. Judith Esther Onditi works with students in a competency based curriculum session.

R E S O U R C E  C E N T R E

NDEC is located in rural Kenya where most families lack any basic infrastructure for electricity. The Sisters sponsor financially some learners who come from very challenging homes, and lack basic life-needs including, food, shelter, etc. In 2018, we opened a small resource centre, giving students access to materials required to complement what they learn and discover. This facility has a capacity for only 45 learners who come in shifts enabling learners at all levels to access these resources. Sisters, as well as postulants and aspirants, are always available to support our learners in using the materials for expanding their knowledge and skills. In the future, we hope to enlarge the centre to accommodate more learners, even from nearby schools and the community. NDEC confirms education of the whole person as our SNDdeN priority ministry since 1804!

By Sister Magdaline Mikwa, SNDdeN, Administrative Secretary

Each day, people from different backgrounds visit our Administrative Office for various reasons. Teachers, staff, pupils, parents and guests stop first at my office. It gives me joy to be a welcoming presence in the school, especially for the children. Some come with excitement, while others wear fearful faces of the unknown. My ministry involves creating an environment where the child is peaceful, happy and comfortable, and feels at home. In the right environment, each child becomes relaxed; other activities fall into place. I contribute to this holistic education of the children, and also in a special outreach to parents and guardians. Everyone’s story counts. Listening attentively to our children, parents, guardians and all guests, I do joyfully my clerical work for a smooth school operation and I give witness to the goodness of God.

Sr. Magdaline Mikwa meets with new parents.

Most parents and guardians in rural Kenya are peasant farmers, with very little income. Unable to finance their children’s education, the parents struggle with cultural, social and economic challenges. I have learnt that doing everything in the office in a loving, caring and understanding way enables a smooth and coordinated ministry with parents, children, Sisters and staff. Following the progress of the children is the best link for parents and guardians with the different departments and persons who support them in a specialized way.

By Sister Maximilla Mutuba, SNDdeN, Coordinator of Early Childhood and Development Centre (ECDC)

St. Julie’s call to “educate for life,” inspires me, as I teach children from ages 2 to 6 years old. I love my ministry with children in early childhood; I give my best in preparing these little ones for formal education. In collaboration with the ECDC staff, I plan activities for the week. It thrills me to observe the day-care children arriving, joyful and excited, each morning, as they run to meet the Sisters. They recognize the Notre Dame cross, worn by the Sisters, making the children feel at home. They enter spontaneously into song and dance. Recalling Julie’s teachings, I have the opportunity to make school a place where our children love to be, with a sense of belonging, in their early years. Our daily interaction with children in this tender age prepares them for the future. It is a blessing and a challenge for Sisters and staff to provide a conducive environment! The simplicity and trust of each child stretches us to engage with our children in practical activities. We try to develop creativity with suitable materials, appealing for these ages. With limited resources, we work overtime to supplement materials acquired through funds from our Sisters and benefactors.

Sr. Maximilla Mutuba with the Early Childhood learners.

The children’s learning extends in their home environments to siblings, parents/guardians and friends in their neighbourhood. People refer to our Centre, as the “school of happy and welcoming Sisters.” It is a place of healing for some children. At the close of the day, in returning home, some children cry and cling to the Sisters and staff. This prompted us to initiate collaborative sessions with parents and guardians for encouraging conducive home environments. We give the children playing materials to share school stories and experiences with the family. Bringing materials back to school, they explain their use at home, another response for the uniqueness of each child.

COVID-19 has invaded the lives of our children, unable to come to school. Some parents telephoning the Sisters, ask them to assure the children that the school is closed now, but they will be able share their stories when school re-opens. We continue to offer simple activities to engage the children at home in their own environments. We follow the ideals that St. Julie offers us for educating children in every generation.


Sr. Susan feeding chickens with learners in the SND outreach programme.

By Sister Susan Libendi, SNDdeN, Coordinator of Social Outreach Programme

As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), we respond to specific needs in our time. We believe that God expects the best from us, and inspires us to reach out to our brothers and sisters. We are inspired by St. Julie who insisted that we “exist for the poor, absolutely for the poor.” She called us to make known God’s goodness and love with and among people living in poverty. My ministry contributes to this SNDdeN Mission for many vulnerable families. Parents desire education for their children, but most are unable and trapped in the poverty web. They face the limitations of economic, social, spiritual and psychological challenges, on a daily basis.

Education transforms lives and enables people to participate in decisions that affect their lives. The government of Kenya aims theoretically at providing free primary education; that is not the case on the ground. Private and faith-based schools like NDEC attempt to reach out to marginalized and less privileged pupils by ensuring that they get basic education in a conducive environment for best achievement. Most learners on scholarship are partial or total orphans. In the present economic situation, our Social Outreach Programme, addresses various needs of the community and the most vulnerable in the Malava area. We aim is to visit households, gather information, initiate economic activities for parents’ self-reliance to provide new income, to help families receiving financial assistance, and to familiarise ourselves with local communities.

We engage children and parents in activities generating some minimal income for their households. When our families meet to share their struggles, we help them and the surrounding community to find hope in different processes of healing. In collaboration with our postulants, I visit families to experience their reality of life. By interacting within these households, without any pre-conceived judgements, I live the call and Mission of Jesus Christ. I listen, learn, and allow myself to be transformed by my brothers and sisters, made vulnerable by the circumstances of life. In partnership with other service providers, I organise workshops for parents facing critical times to give them opportunities for finding creative solutions and practical ways for becoming self-reliant.

Sr. Susan Libendi visits the parents of students at home.

Spending time with children from these households, I observe their self-esteem and confidence re-awakened as I teach them what they need to know for life. During the holidays, I follow up on school attendance and progress of our children, to strengthen the bonds between the children and parents at home in their own environment. Parents and children experience the transformation that education brings to individuals and society. As a private Catholic school, without any government subsidy, NDEC relies on school fees, a major sources of income to meet expenses in our school. Through funds received from donors, our Congregational Leadership Team supports our Mission with small grants for scholarships for needy children and for small income generating activities for their families.

We have begun a chicken project in which parents and children raise chickens, sell the eggs and provide a small income, important for struggling families. The goals are to empower families in becoming self-sustaining, to give them confidence in taking charge of their own lives and to participate in decisions which affect them. This project enables parents to pay school fees as well as to manage their own households. In December 2019, we conducted with our parents a workshop to raise awareness in educating our pupils for life. The participants discussed issues of concern for young people and ways of working with them to ensure a brighter future. The event aimed at revitalizing efforts by the parents and guardians in accompanying their children in education. They discussed ways to become self-sustaining and to take charge of their own lives.

By Sister Theckler Mwaka, SNDdeN, Coordinator of Nutrition and Worship

NDEC attracts children from all backgrounds. For children to be happy, stay active, and concentrate during indoor and outdoor lessons, it is vital for them to be healthy. Our focus on education for life includes good health. At school, we ensure that children have a balanced diet, since good nutrition is important in enabling them to remain alert and happy. I work with the kitchen department which provides a simple and balanced diet meal for the children.

Sr. Theckler Mwaka oversees the kitchen for good hygiene

A clean environment is critical. I encourage the children and staff to ensure that hygienic standards are maintained in the school. With the Sisters in our community and in collaboration with the teachers, we organize talks for the children on cleanliness and hygiene, with specific emphasis on personal hygiene and a clean environment. Our school directives insist on clean drinking water and the hand-washing, after toilet visits, as well as before and after eating. Through our Social Outreach Programme, we provide sanitary essentials for your girls from vulnerable homes.

W O R S H I P  A N D  E U C H A R I S T

In collaboration with other Sisters, I coordinate the worship programme. NDEC links the children for worship to the Pontifical Missionary Children’s Programme at the parish level. The school is connected to St. Theresa’s Catholic Parish in Malava. The parish priests comes to the school every Friday morning for the Eucharistic Liturgy. The children take time to practice music, liturgical dancing and serving at Mass. They participate enthusiastically in the celebration by taking the lead in making the Scripture Readings, singing and dancing. These small activities have enhanced the zeal of the children as they learn more about their faith.

I work closely with the SNDdeN postulants and aspirants in preparing NDEC pupils for Baptism, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. The worship group at school gives the children the opportunity to meet on a weekly basis to faith-sharing with Bible stories and liturgical dancing. For all at NDEC, Wednesday is St. Julie Day. Children are open to hear stories of our foundress, especially her love for children, to see photos of St. Julie, the Sisters and to know more about our foundress and the Mission of Jesus.

En vie avec la mission : Priorité à l’éducation


Srs Dorice Sumbati Shisali, Judith Esther Onditi, Theckler Mwaka, Susan Libendi, Magdaline Mikwa et Maximilia Mutuba, SNDdeN, planifient ensemble avec un joyeux enthousiasme à NDEC.

par Sister Judith Esther Onditi, SNDdeN, directrice adjointe

En 2010, la mission de l’Evangile a inspiré les sœurs de Notre-Dame de Namur à ouvrir le Centre éducatif Notre-Dame (NDEC) à Malava, au Kenya. Six sœurs, assistées par nos aspirantes et postulantes, servent environ 300 élèves, de la petite enfance à la classe de 8e. La devise de NDEC, éduquer pour la vie, promeut l’idéal éducationnel d’éducation holistique de Ste Julie Billiart. Le Centre attire beaucoup d’élèves dans une approche de l’éducation agréable aux élèves, différente du système orienté vers les examens en usage dans les écoles kenyanes. Nous considérons l’éducation orientée vers les élèves comme créative et pratique. Pleinement engagé, l’élève joue un rôle actif, où il est au centre dans son processus d’apprentissage. Ceci développe l’élève dans chaque domaine et implique différentes activités, incluant la technologie ou le savoir-faire technique appliqué. L’élève découvre de nouveaux horizons et dénoue ses propres capacités, tout en appliquant de nouvelles compétences pour atteindre le plus grand potentiel.

Nous, SNDdeN, apprécions ce programme basé sur la compétence, utilisé maintenant dans des écoles kenyanes, et permettant la participation complète des élèves avec des découvertes créatives dans le processus d’apprentissage. Nos élèves, même en dehors des confins de l’éducation formelle, deviennent créatifs en manipulant positivement leur environnement. Comme facilitatrices dans le processus d’apprentissage, nos sœurs réalisent que nous n’enseignons pas seulement pour maintenant, mais nous sommes en train de préparer des citoyens futurs et responsables, prêts à appliquer les connaissances et à trouver des solutions aux problèmes quotidiens.

Sr. Judith Esther Onditi travaille avec des élèves dans une session du programme basé sur la compétence.

C E N T R E   D E   R E S S O U R C E S

NDEC est situé au Kenya rural où la plupart des familles n’ont aucune infrastructure de base pour l’électricité. Les sœurs parrainent financièrement certains élèves qui proviennent de foyers très éprouvants et qui manquent des nécessités vitales, y compris nourriture, abri, etc. En 2018, nous avons ouvert un petit centre de ressources, qui donne aux élèves l’accès aux matériaux requis pour compléter ce qu’ils apprennent et découvrent.

Ce centre a une capacité de 45 élèves qui se relaient de manière à permettre aux élèves de tous les niveaux d’accéder à ces ressources. Les sœurs, aussi bien que les postulantes et aspirantes, sont toujours disponibles pour soutenir nos élèves dans l’usage des matériaux pour étendre leurs connaissances et talents. A l’avenir, nous espérons agrandir le centre pour accueillir plus d’élèves, même d’écoles voisines et de la communauté. NDEC confirme l’éducation de la personne entière comme notre ministère prioritaire des SNDdeN depuis 1804 !

Par Sœur Magdaline Mikwa, SNDdeN, secrétaire administrative

Chaque jour, des personnes de diverses origines visitent notre bureau administratif pour diverses raisons. Enseignants, personnel, élèves, parents et hôtes s’arrêtent d’abord à mon bureau. Cela me donne la joie d’être une présence accueillante dans l’école, spécialement pour les enfants. Certains viennent avec enthousiasme, tandis que d’autres ont des figures effrayées par l’inconnu. Mon ministère implique de créer un environnement où l’enfant est paisible, heureux et à l’aise et se sent chez lui. Je contribue à cette éducation holistique des enfants, et aussi à un accueil spécial des parents et tuteurs. Le récit de chacun compte. En écoutant attentivement nos enfants, parents, tuteurs et tous les hôtes, je fais joyeusement mon travail de bureau pour que l’école fonctionne sans heurts et je témoigne de la bonté de Dieu.

Magdaline Mikwa rencontre de nouveaux parents.

La plupart des parents et tuteurs du Kenya rural sont des cultivateurs, avec très peu de revenus. Incapables de financer l’éducation de leurs enfants, les parents luttent avec des défis culturels, sociaux et économiques. J’ai appris que faire tout au bureau d’une manière aimante, soigneuse et compréhensive permet un ministère bien coordonné avec les parents, les enfants, les sœurs et le personnel. Suivre le progrès des enfants est le meilleur lien pour les parents et tuteurs avec les différents départements et personnes qui les soutiennent de manière spécialisée.

Par Sœur Maximilla Mutuba, SNDdeN, coordinatrice du Centre pour la petite enfance et le développement

L’appel de Ste Julie à « éduquer pour la vie » m’inspire, comme j’enseigne à des enfants de 2 à 6 ans. J’aime mon ministère avec les petits enfants ; je donne ce que j’ai de meilleur en préparant ces petits à l’éducation formelle. En collaboration avec le personnel de NDEC, je planifie les activités pour la semaine. Cela me fascine d’observer les enfants externes qui arrivent, joyeux et enthousiastes, chaque matin, alors qu’ils courent pour rencontrer les sœurs. Ils reconnaissent la croix Notre-Dame, portée par les sœurs, qui fait que les enfants se sentent chez eux. Ils entrent spontanément dans le chant et la danse. En me souvenant de l’enseignement de Julie, j’ai l’occasion de faire de l’école un lieu où les enfants aiment être, avec un sentiment d’appartenance, dans leurs premières années. Notre interaction quotidienne avec des enfants de cet âge tendre les prépare pour l’avenir. C’est une bénédiction et un défi pour les sœurs et le personnel d’offrir un environnement favorable. ! La simplicité et la confiance de chaque enfant nous demandent de nous engager au maximum avec nos enfants dans des activités pratiques. Nous essayons de développer la créativité avec du matériel convenable, attrayant pour cet âge. Avec des ressources limitées, nous travaillons au-delà de l’horaire pour suppléer aux matériaux acquis grâce à des fonds de nos sœurs et de bienfaiteurs.

Sr. Maximilia Mutuba avec les élèves de la petite enfance.

Ce que les enfants apprennent s’étend dans l’environnement du foyer aux frères et sœurs, parents/tuteurs et amis dans leur voisinage. Les gens se réfèrent à notre Centre comme à « l’école des sœurs heureuses et accueillantes ». C’est un lieu de guérison pour certains enfants. A la fin de la journée, en retournant chez eux, certains enfants pleurent et s’accrochent aux sœurs et au personnel. Ceci nous a incitées à commencer des sessions en collaboration avec parents et tuteurs pour encourager des foyers où l’environnement est favorable. Nous donnons du matériel de jeu aux enfants pour qu’ils partagent les récits et les expériences de l’école avec la famille. En ramenant le matériel à l’école, ils expliquent son usage à la maison, une autre réponse pour l’unicité de chaque enfant.

Le COVID-19 a envahi la vie de nos enfants, incapables de venir à l’école. Certains parents, en téléphonant aux sœurs, leur demandent d’assurer aux enfants que l’école est fermée maintenant, mais qu’ils pourront raconter leurs histoires lorsque l’école ré-ouvrira. Nous continuons à offrir des activités simples pour engager les enfants à la maison dans leur propre environnement. Nous suivons les idéaux que Ste Julie nous offre pour éduquer les enfants à chaque génération.

S E N S I B I L I S A T I O N    S O C I A L E

Sr. Susan en train de nourrir les poulets avec des élèves dans le programme d’extension SND.

par Sœur Suzanne Libendi, SNDdeN, coordinatrice du programme d’extension sociale

En tant que Sœurs de Notre-Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), nous répondons à des besoins spécifiques à notre époque. Nous croyons que Dieu espère le meilleur de nous, et nous inspire d’aller vers nos frères et sœurs. Nous sommes inspirées par Ste Julie qui insistait sur le fait que nous « n’existons que pour les pauvres, absolument pour les pauvres ». Elle nous a appelées pour faire connaître la bonté et l’amour de Dieu avec et parmi les personnes vivant en pauvreté. Mon ministère contribue à cette Mission des SNDdeN pour beaucoup de familles vulnérables. Les parents désirent l’éducation pour leurs enfants, mais la plupart sont incapables et piégés dans la toile de la pauvreté. Ils font face aux limites des défis économiques, sociaux, spirituels et psychologiques sur une base quotidienne.

L’éducation transforme les vies et permet aux personnes de participer aux décisions qui affectent leur vie. En théorie, le gouvernement du Kenya vise à offrir l’éducation primaire gratuite ; ce n’est pas le cas sur le terrain. Des écoles privées et basées sur la foi comme NDEC essaient d’atteindre les élèves marginalisés et moins privilégiés en assurant qu’ils reçoivent l’éducation fondamentale dans un environnement favorable au meilleur accomplissement. La plupart des élèves boursiers sont orphelins, partiellement ou totalement. Dans la situation économique actuelle, notre programme de sensibilisation sociale s’occupe de divers besoins de la communauté et des plus vulnérables dans la zone de Malava. Notre but est de visiter les ménages, de récolter des informations, de lancer des activités économiques pour une autonomie des parents afin d’offrir de nouveaux revenus, d’aider les familles qui reçoivent une assistance financière, et de nous familiariser avec les communautés locales.

Nous engageons les enfants et les parents dans des activités qui génèrent quelque revenu minimal pour leurs ménages. Quand nos familles se rencontrent pour partager leurs luttes, nous les aidons, ainsi que la communauté environnante, à trouver de l’espoir dans différents processus de guérison. En collaboration avec nos postulantes, je visite les familles pour expérimenter leur situation de vie. Par une interaction avec ces ménages, sans jugement préconçu, je vis l’appel et la mission de Jésus Christ. J’écoute, j’apprends, et je me laisse transformer par mes frères et sœurs, rendus vulnérables par les circonstances de la vie. En partenariat avec d’autres fournisseurs de services, j’organise des ateliers pour des parents affrontés à des temps critiques, pour leur donner des opportunités de trouver des solutions créatives et des façons pratiques de devenir indépendants.

Sr. Susan Libendi visite les parents d’élèves chez eux.

En passant du temps avec les enfants de ces ménages, j’observe que leur estime de soi et leur confiance se réveillent alors que je leur enseigne ce qu’ils ont besoin de savoir pour la vie. Pendant les congés, j’assure le suivi de la fréquentation scolaire et du progrès de nos enfants, pour renforcer les liens entre les enfants et les parents à la maison dans leur propre environnement. Parents et enfants expérimentent la transformation que l’éducation apporte aux personnes individuelles et aux sociétés.

Comme école catholique privée, sans aucun subside du gouvernement, NDEC compte sur les frais scolaires, source majeure de revenus pour subvenir aux dépenses dans notre école. Grâce à des fonds reçus de donateurs, notre Equipe de leadership de la congrégation soutient notre mission avec de petites subventions pour des bourses pour enfants nécessiteux et pour des activités qui génèrent un petit revenu pour leurs familles.

Nous avons commencé un projet poulets dans lequel parents et enfants élèvent des poulets, vendent les œufs et se procurent un petit revenu, important pour des familles qui luttent. Les buts sont d’autonomiser les familles qui deviennent indépendantes, de leur donner confiance alors qu’ils prennent leur propre vie en charge et qu’ils participent aux décisions qui les affectent. Ce projet permet aux parents de payer les frais scolaires ainsi que de gérer leur propre ménage.

En décembre 2019, nous avons conduit avec nos parents un atelier pour les conscientiser à éduquer nos élèves pour la vie. Les participants ont discuté des questions qui préoccupent les jeunes et des manières de travailler avec eux pour assurer un avenir plus brillant. L’événement visait à revitaliser les efforts des parents et des tuteurs dans l’accompagnement de leurs enfants dans l’éducation. Ils ont discuté de manières de devenir indépendants et de prendre en charge leur propre vie.

Par Sister Theckler Mwaka, SNDdeN, coordinatrice de la nutrition et du culte

NDEC attire des enfants de tous milieux. Pour que les enfants soient heureux, qu’ils restent actifs et concentrés durant les leçons à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur, il est vital pour eux qu’ils soient en bonne santé. Notre visée sur l’éducation pour la vie inclut une bonne santé. A l’école,nous assurons que les enfants aient une alimentation équilibrée, puisque la bonne nutrition est importante pour leur permettre de rester alertes et heureux. Je travaille avec le département de la cuisine qui fournit un repas simple et équilibré pour les enfants.

Sr. Theckler Mwaka supervise la cuisine pour une bonne hygiène

Un environnement propre est essentiel. J’encourage les enfants et le personnel à assurer que des normes hygiéniques soient maintenues dans l’école. Avec les sœurs dans notre communauté et en collaboration avec les enseignants, nous organisons des causeries pour les enfants sur la propreté et l’hygiène, avec un accent spécifique sur l’hygiène personnelle et un environnement propre. Nos directives de l’école insistent sur l’eau potable pure et le lavage des mains après le passage aux toilettes, comme avant et après les repas. Grâce à notre programme d’extension sociale, nous fournissons le matériel sanitaire essentiel pour les jeunes filles de foyers vulnérables.

C U L T E    E T    E U C H A R I S T I E

En collaboration avec d’autres sœurs, je coordonne le programme du culte. NDEC relie les enfants pour le culte au programme des Oeuvres pontificales missionnaires pour les enfants au niveau de la paroisse. L’école est connectée à la paroisse catholique Ste Thérèse à Malava. Le prêtre de la paroisse vient à l’école chaque vendredi matin pour la liturgie eucharistique. Les enfants prennent le temps de pratiquer la musique, la danse liturgique et le service de la messe. Ils participent avec enthousiasme à la célébration en dirigeant les lectures de l’Ecriture, le chant et la danse. Ces petites activités ont mis en valeur le zèle des enfants alors qu’ils apprennent davantage au sujet de leur foi.

Je travaille étroitement avec les postulantes et aspirantes SNDdeN en préparant les élèves de NDEC au baptême, à la première communion et à la confirmation. Le groupe de culte à l’école donne aux enfants l’opportunité de se réunir sur une base hebdomadaire pour un partage de foi avec des récits bibliques et des danses liturgiques. Pour tous à NDEC, le mercredi est la journée de Ste Julie. Les enfants sont ouverts à entendre des récits de notre fondatrice, spécialement son amour pour les enfants, de voir des photos de Ste Julie, des sœurs et d’en savoir plus sur notre fondatrice et la mission de Jésus.

SNDdeN Schools Proclaim God’s Goodness in Nigeria


Srs. Martina Akhibi and Christiana Sidi address children at St. Peter’s Nursery and Primary School, Ndeaboh, Enugu State

By Sr. Christiana Sidi, SNDdeN, Province Education Director

“Education is the most important work on earth,” said St. Julie Billiart. Fifty-six years ago, in 1963, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) responded to St. Julie’s vision to proclaim the goodness of God by coming to teach in Nigeria! No doubt many people continue to benefit and share this unique privilege of being “equipped for life” in all our schools. We educate children irrespective of their ethnic, religious,
social or economic backgrounds.

Presently, we, SNDdeN, work in six nursery/primary schools, and six secondary schools across the country. We serve 2,309 pupils in our Nursery/ Primary schools (Kindergarten 1-3, Nursery 1-3, Basic one to six) and 1,592 students in the Secondary Schools (Junior School 1-3, Senior Secondary School 1-3). We work with 192 staff members in Nursery/Primary schools), 268 staff members in Secondary Schools. All schools have Sisters as administrators, bursars, and teachers, who work with lay co-workers, inspired by the spirit of Notre Dame and who inculcate in the learners Catholic values and St. Julie’s educational ideals.

Rita Ezekwem and Caroline Ajaegbu with students of Notre Dame Girls’ Academy, Amoyo, Kwara State.

We struggle with affordable tuition and fees, to give everyone the opportunity to receive a good education, because most learners come from middle class or lowincome earner homes. In spite of our efforts, many families find it hard to pay students’ school fees. Administrators, adjusting lower fees, face the challenge of paying just wages to our co-workers and providing a good education to those living in poverty. The government does not give any subsidy to support “mission” schools; school fees are the major sources of income to meet expenses in our schools. The Congregational Ministry Support Fund helps many schools meet some needs; other individuals and groups support our schools financially, enabling us to carry on the mission.

Sr. Christiana Sidi with children of Our Lady’s Nursery and Primary school, Kulende, Kwara State.

Our Sisters prepare young children for life in the following schools:
Sacred Heart Catholic College (Abeokuta, Ogun State)
St. Joseph’s Nursery/Primary School (Ogwa, Edo State)
St. Peter’s Nursery/Primary School (Ndeaboh, Enugu State)
Notre Dame Nursery/Primary School (Ugwumunike, Enugu State)
St. Michael’s International Nursery/Primary School (Kontagora, Niger State)
St. Michael’s International Secondary School (Kontagora, Niger State)
Notre Dame Nursery/Primary School (Awkunanaw, Enugu State)
Notre Dame Academy (Awkunanaw, Enugu State)
Our Lady’s Nursery/Primary School (Kulende, Ilorin, Kwara State)
Our Lady’s Secondary School (Kulende, Ilorin, Kwara State)
Notre Dame Girls’ Academy (Amoyo, Kwara State)
Notre Dame Girl’s Academy (Kuje, Abuja State)

Students of Our Lady’s Secondary School, Kulende, Kwara State.

The service we provide to those living in poverty, experiencing the transformation that education brings to individuals and society, gives us joy and spurs us on to continue this unique mission of forming young people for life, as did St. Julie Billiart. We must continue to “exist for the poor, absolutely for the poor” (St. Julie Billiart).



Srs. Martina Akhibi et Christiana Sidi s’adressent aux enfants de l’école fondamentale St Peter, Ndeaboh, Enugu State.

Par Sr Christiana Sidi, SNDdeN, Directrice provincial de l’éducation

« L’éducation est l’œuvre la plus importante sur la terre », disait Ste Julie Billiart. Il y a cinquante-six ans, en 1963, les Sœurs de Notre-Dame de Namur ont répondu à la vision de Ste Julie de proclamer la bonté de Dieu en venant enseigner au Nigeria ! Sans aucun doute, beaucoup de personnes continuent à bénéficier de cet unique privilège d’être « équipées pour la vie » dans toutes nos écoles, et à le partager. Nous éduquons les enfants quelles que soient leur origine et leur situation ethnique, religieuse, sociale ou économique.

A présent, nous travaillons dans six écoles fondamentales et six écoles secondaires dans le pays. Nous servons 2.309 élèves dans nos écoles maternelles et primaires (jardin d’enfants 1-3, maternelle 1-3, primaire 1-6) et 1.592 élèves dans les écoles secondaires (cycle inférieur 1-3, cycle supérieur 1-3). Nous travaillons avec 192 membres du personnel dans les écoles fondamentales, 268 membres du personnel dans les écoles secondaires. Toutes les écoles ont des sœurs comme directrices, économes et professeurs, qui travaillent avec des collaborateurs laïcs, inspirés par l’esprit de Notre-Dame et qui inculquent aux élèves les valeurs catholiques et l’idéal éducationnel de Ste Julie.

Srs Rita Ezekwem et Caroline Ajaegbu avec des étudiantes de l’Académie Notre Dame pour filles, Amoyo, Kwara State.

Nous luttons pour des frais scolaires abordables, pour donner à chacun l’opportunité de recevoir une bonne éducation, parce que la plupart des élèves viennent de la classe moyenne ou de foyers à faible revenu. Malgré nos efforts, beaucoup de familles trouvent qu’il est dur de payer les frais scolaires. Les directrices, en ajustant des frais pour qu’ils soient moins élevés, sont mises au défi de payer de justes gages à nos collaborateurs et de donner une bonne éducation à ceux qui vivent en pauvreté. Le gouvernement ne donne aucun subside pour soutenir les écoles de « mission » ; les frais scolaires sont la source principale de revenu pour assurer les dépenses dans nos écoles. Le fonds de soutien aux ministères de la congrégation aide beaucoup d’écoles à répondre à certains besoins ; d’autres personnes et groupes soutiennent financièrement nos écoles, en nous permettant de poursuivre la mission.

Sr. Christiana Sidi avec des enfants de l’école fondamentale Notre Dame, Kulende, Kwara State.

Liste de 12 écoles où nos sœurs préparent les enfants à la vie.

Le service que nous procurons à ceux qui vivent en pauvreté, expérimentant la transformation que l’éducation apporte aux individus et à la société, nous donne de la joie et nous stimule à continuer cette unique mission de former des jeunes pour la vie, comme Ste Julie Billiart. Nous devons continuer à « exister pour les pauvres, absolument pour les pauvres. » (Ste Julie Billiart).

Des étudiantes de l’école secondaire Notre Dame, Kulende, Kwara State.

A Success Story in Medical Centre

By Sister Rose Ndianefo, SNDdeN

“You really saved my life!”

Bello, a mother of four children nearly died as a result of gastroenteritis. She was rushed to our hospital at 2:00 a.m. on that painful day with a case of stooling and vomiting. She had been sick for about four days. On her arrival, she looked very weak, dehydrated with sunken eyes, dry mouth and skin. She was barely able to talk, because of her general state of weakness. According to her husband, she had been using a lot of herbs, but to no good effect. When her husband saw that her condition worsened, and Bello was almost at the point of death, he decided to bring her to our hospital. He was panicking, as he said, “I am afraid that she may not make it, if I wait till daybreak, and I do not have any money to care for her.” When he was asked why he did not bring her to the hospital sooner, or why he waited so long, he repeated that he had no money.

Sr.-Rose-and-Bello-450px-webAt Notre Dame Medical Centre in Amoyo, Nigeria, we admitted Bello into the female ward; she underwent a medical assessment and her treatment began. The laboratory investigations revealed not only gastroenteritis, but also typhoid and malaria. Hospitalized for five days, with multiple medications and treatments, she got better eventually. When she was discharged to go home, her husband was not able to pay even a penny for the highly subsidized costs of the drugs and laboratory tests.

sign-board-Amoyo-300px-webThis grateful woman certainly appreciated all our care. Thanking the Sisters and members of staff, she said: “You really saved my life.” She told us that she knew about the care and special treatment at our Medical Centre; she realized too that we would give her the treatment, even though she and her husband did not have any money. Her husband confessed that when his neighbors told him to take his wife to another hospital in the town; he refused by telling them that no hospital would care for his wife if he did not have any funds. Only Notre Dame Medical Centre would help them.

Sr. Rose Ndianefo, SNDdeN (left) assists the doctor in this serious surgical procedure.

Multiple Services for Limited Staff
The Centre is open 24 hours for emergency care; it offers multiple services, including many normal deliveries and some Caesarians, ante-natal care, nutritional counselling for mothers with new babies, treatments for hypertension, diabetes, gastro-intestinal problems and various diseases (hepatatis B, malaria, typhoid,etc.) and necessary immunizations/vaccinations. Sisters Rose Ndianefo and Mary Bernadette Eboh, SNDdeN serve as staff nurses and midwives who work with one doctor, a laboratory technician, two nurses aids and two health care workers. Three persons assist with maintenance and security. Sister Antonia Uwakwe, SNDdeN is a community health worker for the Medical Centre. All staff members aim to give quality care, in a cost-effective service to the people; we offer sessions on preventative health care and child welfare. Last year, even with 100 new patients and 284 returning patients, we began a program for orphans and vulnerable children. At times, even with limited resources, our medical staff extends to home care for the elderly and to two outreach clinics, including a mobile clinic.

Sr. Rose Ndianefo, SNDdeN gives a hepititis B injection to a patient, a clinician prepares the documents and Sr. Antonia Uwakwe, SNDdeN prepares the next injections.

People have hope when they come to our Centre for medical care. The Notre Dame spirit is alive and active, with St. Julie’s option for those living in poverty and for the sick in an under-served community. The people in Amoyo recognize God’s goodness in this health care ministry of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. In September 2014, I was missioned to the Medical Centre, a special kind of place where our Sisters are called to work. This is an area where the people hardly eat two times in a day. They cannot afford medical care either and often, they rely only on herbal medicine for cures.

Sr. Mary Bernadette Eboh, SNDdeN prepares a group of expectant mothers for childbirth.

In our Centre, we have a policy not to send anybody away just because she/he does not have money at hand. Of course, our policy results in outstanding debt, with challenges to search for funding through grants, sponsorships and fund-raising efforts.

We continue to network with other hospitals/clinics, churches and organizations. We do what we can to alleviate pain and suffering for underprivileged patients, living in poor situations, as they testify continuously. Bello’s story shows that we give the people some hope for getting well in Amoyo, and we will continue to bring the good news in our good works for those in need in Nigeria.

Please show your support for saving lives by funding medications, necessary treatments, and preventative care.

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Safe Water in Kenya

Sr. Evalyne Aseyo, SNDdeN

Sr. Evalyne Aseyo, SNDdeN (center) collaborates with workers, volunteers and Communities to revitalize Primary Health Care in Kenya.

In Kisumu, Kenya, I am engaged in research, teaching and community service at the Tropical Institute of Community Health and Development (Tropical Institute).  In collaboration with Community Health Extension Workers and Community Health Volunteers, we form a partnership to reach out to vulnerable communities.  We mobilize and organize communities into Community Units to ensure dialogue, referrals and feedback mechanisms for communities linked to the health sector.  At the Tropical Institute, we consider this partnership as working together for individuals and institutions in sharing resources, ideas and experiences to support, enrich and attain high quality outcomes in health care for all involved.  To revitalize Comprehensive Primary Health Care in Kenya, we collaborate with workers, volunteers and Community Units to enhance community participation in health care service delivery and health care outcomes.  chalk-board-300-px-webTogether with other partners, we collect data and follow up indicators such as immunization coverage, Ante Natal Care (ANC), use of Insecticide Treated Nets for mothers and children under 5 years, vitamin A uptake, health facility delivery, and treatment for safe water. We post results of these indicators on community chalk boards, located in central places within the community. We discuss this data in a forum of community dialogue which leads to community action days for ongoing health care.

The PUR Water Packets transform contaminated water to clean and clear water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing.

Support for PUR Water Packets
Realizing that the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, through a Congregational Mission Fund, give financial support to vulnerable households, unable to access clean water, I requested financial aid from the international Mission Office in order to purchase water commodities for one Community Unit in Kisumu County. From funds received, I was able to purchase the water treatment commodities of PUR water packets and aquatabs.  Community Health Extension Workers helped to identify Kadero and Okok, Community Units attached to Gita Sub-County Hospital, as the villages, which could benefit most from these commodities. Kadero has 25 villages and Okok comprises 14 villages. The River Awach, passing through these villages as their major source of water used for drinking water and household chores including cooking, poses a risk continually.  Also, some households, not using the river water, use unprotected springs.  In April and May 2016, there was a cholera outbreak, resulting from contaminated water, in these Community Units. In following up the water treatment indicator, with the Community Health Workers, we began to raise awareness in these communities on the importance of household water treatment and to make the use of these commodities of PUR water purification packets and aquatabs a priority in these villages.

Sr. Evalyne Aseyo (on extreme right) encourages the villagers to use the water purification packets and aquatabs.

Even though clean water is still a critical issue, these commodities have gone a long way in reaching some of the most vulnerable households unable to access clean water. In sustaining and expanding this project, we intend to reach more households in the area. Obviously, this project continues to go a long way to reduce diarrheal diseases and water borne diseases in this community.  The community appreciates the support of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and their generous donors who contribute to this safe water project.


Sisters Coordinate Medical Services

“I was sick and you took care of me…”  Matthew 25:36

Sister Eulalie Nkengi, SNDdeN

In her visits, Sr. Eulalie Nkengi, SNDdeN reviews and evaluates treatments.

In the Congo-Kinshasa Province, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) minister in multiple ways to the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Educating the children has been a major priority since the arrival of the Sisters from Belgium in 1894. From the early years in the Congo, the Sisters reached out also in cities and villages by serving the growing needs for medical care of the Congolese people. At first, they established dispensaries wherever they opened schools and then considered also as priorities medical centers, dispensaries, maternity clinics and hospitals. With the expanding needs for medical care, in a ministry for serving sick, suffering and disabled persons, more Sisters became mid-wives, nurses and physicians as well, and now staff these centers.

Sister Eulalie Nkengi, SNDdeN is a physician who coordinates the medical services in seven health care facilities, administered by the Sisters in the Congo-Kinshasa Province, with two located in the Bandundu region and five located in Kongo-Central. She travels to cities and villages across the mid/south western region of the DRC. Her major responsibilities, begun in 2011, encompass the general oversight of the medical centers, maternity clinics and hospitals in Kimwenza, Kitenda,  Lemfu, Mpese, Ngidinga and Pelende.  In Ngidinga, there are two facilities, a hospital and a health care center.  All facilities are affiliated with the Hospital Center, René de Haes in Kimwenza. The centers in Pelende and Kitenda are located in the most distant area of the province, in the Bandundu region. One center is 650 miles from the Province center at Kimwenza and the other is 720 miles away. Sr. Eulalie travels these distances on extremely difficult and often treacherous roads.

Continue reading Sisters Coordinate Medical Services

Sr. Elizabeth, SNDdeN, Serving in HIV/AIDS Ministry

Interviewer: Sr. Brigid Rose Tiernan, SNDdeN

Q: As a Social Worker in Harare, Zimbabwe, what has been and is now your ministry?

Elizabeth-Chinamo-2015-webFor two years, I have been working with the Mashambanzou Care Trust (the Trust), established in Harare 20 years ago. With teams of social workers and nurses, the Trust works to alleviate poverty in the community and to contribute to a generation free from HIV.

People suffering from AIDS are brought to the Medical Centre (Centre) in the city for care and treatment, and in some cases, to die with dignity. The Centre has 28 beds, male and female sections, and a small section for children. In my first year, I was responsible for counselling very sick and dying people in the Centre, and reaching out to their families and the community of these patients.

This ministry took me to Mbare, one of the oldest, high-density suburbs, south of Harare where I had oversight for two homes for vulnerable older children, one for boys and one for girls. As a social worker, I needed to follow-up on school attendance and performance, and to verify identity documents for these students. During school holidays, I drove long-distances to accompany some teenagers to family members in other parts of the country, and insure their return at the end of the holidays. The Centre relies on donor funding for several vehicles and drivers to serve this need. Another responsibility in Mbare was to visit, check attendance and documents for 60 orphans and vulnerable children with AIDS in a crèche (day nursery) directed by the Trust.
Continue reading Sr. Elizabeth, SNDdeN, Serving in HIV/AIDS Ministry

In Our Time

by Sister Brigid Rose Tiernan, SNDdeN

“Our common aim… to express in our time as Julie did in hers, that God is good.” (Constitutions 9)

ZimSA-8Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) make known God’s goodness as we respond to specific needs “in our time.”

This year, 2016, marks a milestone in the life and Mission of the Sisters in the ZimSA Unit (Zimbabwe and South Africa).  St. Peter Claver Primary School  in Maokeng, Kroonstad, South Africa is celebrating one hundred years of quality education begun and continuing by our religious congregation.

Currently the Primary (Elementary) School has 504 pupils, from Grade R (K), and Grades 1 – 7, and 27 teachers. A long-awaited dream, the  High School (Post Primary, or Secondary), opened in 2010 on the site of the former convent in the Kroonstad suburb called Jordania, has 284 pupils with 17 teachers in ten classes in Grades 8-12. Both schools have a small team of administrators and support staff. In the Primary School. Sr. Gertrude Izuchukwu teaches Religious Education and does pastoral care and Sr. Chantal Kissimbila is responsible for finances. In the Secondary (High) School, Sr. Marie McLaughlin is the chaplain and Sr. Kay Bridge tutors students. Sr. Brigid Rose Tiernan represents the SNDdeN owners on the Board of Governors. Continue reading In Our Time