Category Archives: educating for life

Health Pastoral on the Island of Marajó, Brazil

By Sister Maria Socorro Oliveira da Silva, SNDdeN

Health care is a primary concern for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur on the Island of Marajó, Pará, Brazil. They initiated a Health Pastoral on this island to provide support, spiritual encouragement, information about the rights of infirm persons, and to offer an alternative mode for treating illnesses. They encourage good health and healing by natural means, with fewer chemicals in the body, when possible and feasible.

Sister-Socorro-preparing-material-for-home-medicines
Sr. Maria Socorro Oliveira da Silva, SNDdeN, prepares herbs for alternative medicines.

The project began with women leaders giving their time in service to alleviate the suffering of people living in poverty who are not able to get to doctors and do not have the money to buy medicine. The Sisters, working with women leaders in the town of Breves, participate in a pastoral approach to health care. They search, through home remedies, to alleviate and cure illness. Sr. Maria Vagner Souza Silva, SNDdeN began the Health Pastoral in the town. Now, Sr. Maria Socorro Oliveira da Silva, SNDdeN visits the sick in the community and meets monthly with the women to discuss what would be the best way to make the home medicines. Her previous two years of experience in health and pastoral care has been beneficial for the people. The Sisters in the local community give support as well to these endeavors.

Experience of Growth
The Health Pastoral offers an alternative for treating illness. In September 2015, the Sisters invited a woman from the mainland who has a long experience in furthering education with home remedies for healing. For three days, the people participated in workshops on remedies for colds, oil for massage and special medicine for anemia. This experience enabled the women leaders, and infirm persons in the neighborhood to have a greater understanding of alternative medicines. The workshops were a great success. The people believe strongly in healing from medicines made with plants and natural herbs. In fact, they usually search out these alternative methods. Now, about 30 families benefit from the consultations and the use of alternative medicine.

The neighborhood has about 4,000 people and is growing every day. The group of seven women, including Sr. Maria, find this outreach demanding. They make home remedies of natural materials: leaves, flowers, barks, oils and water. These remedies sometimes work more slowly than chemicals, and require many visits, but they are generally more effective over the long run, and certainly are less expensive. Receiving invitations from the sick, the volunteer helpers are generous and patient, as they visit monthly about 40 persons in their homes. Since the sick are so weak and frail, even conversations become limited. In all visits, prayer is essential to the healing process. The community of Our Lady of Fatima is the most active in the Parish. The opportunity to serve in this Health Pastoral has called for growth in a spirit of compassion and solidarity in the community. The leaders and volunteers rely on two important ingredients for this service: the love of the sick and faith in the loving action of the good God.

The-women-prepare-the-alternative-home-remedies
Sr. Maria Socorro Oliveira da Silva, SNDdeN, (second from the end) with her pastoral team, prepare alternative medicines for sick and infirm neighbors.

GW June 2016 – Health Pastoral on the Island of Marajo, Brazil

Good Works Archives on sndden.org

Harambee … “Let’s all work together.”

Sister Gwynette Proctor is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who serves as Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Her ministry focuses Gwynette-Proctor--web-300on evangelization, leadership development and cultural competence training and education. She offers in-service workshops in teaching tolerance for teachers and administrators in schools and parishes. Sr. Gwynette works with Archdiocesan agencies to create more diversity in these communities in the greater Baltimore area.

In 1984, Sr. Gwynette saw a pressing need in the city of Baltimore. She envisioned and founded a program to reach out to young Black lives, in collaboration with the Catholic Archdiocese in Baltimore. Harambee Catholic Youth Organization is a network of 16 Black parishes which work together and share resources for spiritual, cultural and leadership development of youth. Sr. Gwynette describes the need, purpose and goals of this program.

Harambee . . . “Let’s all work together.”
By Sister Gwynette Proctor, SNDdeN

In Baltimore, Maryland USA, young people strive to create a path out of extreme poverty and hopelessness. The odds against success are enormous as thousands of young people either graduate from or drop out of dysfunctional public school systems each year. Lacking the necessary skills, knowledge and motivation to press for success, they wander aimlessly and/or find menial jobs that do not pay a living wage. At some point, an all-consuming despair and hopelessness takes root. They become adults who have no voice.  Out of sight and forgotten, they are pushed to the edges of our communities and they continue to live and expect to die believing “no one cares.”

At a gathering of 100 representatives from the Black Catholic Parishes in 1984, the Harambee Catholic Youth Organization began its outreach. The group realized that the multiple challenges facing our young people could not be adequately addressed by one parish alone. The gathering decided that together, they could have a greater influence on and increased resources to support our young.  Harambee, which in Swahili means “Let’s All Work Together,” is a network of 16 Black Catholic Parishes and offers programs that center on three aspects of outreach to and with Black Catholic youth: Spiritual Enrichment, Cultural Enrichment, and Leadership Development.

Harambee-Group-1-web

Spiritual enrichment and Christian formation are the foundations that inspire our children, youth and adults to trust in a good God that can and will carry them through difficult times. One hundred youth gather for prayer services and Days of Reflection. Another 70 young adults from ten different parishes participate in “Into the Woods with Christ,” the annual retreat on a camping trip to Swallow Falls State Park.

Harambee has also a choir, led by youth and composed of over 50 African American youth.  It hosts a regional Youth Revival for 150 young people from neighboring states who lift their voices in prayer and song in praise of our good God acting in and through them.

Hamarabee-Group-2-Philadelphia-Liberty-Bell-webCultural enrichment keeps our youth connected to the achievements and legacy of the ancestors. Every culture has a language and a perspective that gives insight into the human condition.  African and African American culture helps Black youth to “know who they are and whose they are.” Exploring African roots begins with an awareness of the divine and stories of a people who survived beyond slave ships, shackles and racism.

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Bishop John Ricard with participants.

Each year the group engages in the “Harambee Freedom Ride.”  This cultural emersion trip provides young participants with time away from their homes to be one with God, their peers and the historical, cultural and spiritual monuments and memories of African American leaders of our Church and throughout the country. At the conclusion of this experience, Bishop John Ricard leads a commissioning service at the Mother of Africa Chapel in Washington, D.C.

Leadership Development focuses on expanding and enhancing leadership skills among African American youth. This outreach in the program facilitates opportunities for youth to develop leadership, organizational, communication and peer ministry skills for service in the Church, school and community. Young people gain the spiritual and cultural strength to heal the scars of racism, combat the many negative societal challenges and strive to break the cycles of poverty that plague our communities of color in the city of Baltimore.

Harambee is one of several programs offered by the Office of Black Catholic Ministries which strives to “win the lost, build believers and equip disciples through the Catholic tradition.”

GW June 2016 – Harambee .pdf

Good Works Archive on sndden.org

Enabling Women with New Skills

By Sister Mary Isabel Kilpatrick, SNDdeN

A few years ago, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur began a new mission in San Clemente, Pisco, south of Lima, Peru. In this region, the people continue to experience lasting effects from the earthquake of 2007. In February 2010, Sisters Miriam Montero Bereche and Mary Isabel Kilpatrick, SNDdeN visited this area in an effort to determine the best way to reach out in a new mission to the people.  The needs were obvious.  At first only those who could prove they were “damnificadas” received any grants for housing.

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Sr. Miriam Montero Bereche with Rosa and Magdalena at a workshop.

Sister Miriam (center) began to offer workshops to help displaced people dealing with stress. With such little assistance and a lack of housing, multiple difficulties resulted in physical and emotional health problems, including poor nutrition, family violence as well as delinquency among the youth.

Yogurt Project
Sr. Mary Isabel saw the need to provide some employment for women seeking a source of income. She searched for the possibility of developing small projects with the women. She called on a friend, Maria, a food engineer who had helped her previously in Lima. Maria had given a course on the preparation of fruit drinks and yogurt with the mothers of the children in the Fe y Alegria School in Lima. Again, Maria was willing to give lessons in

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Patty and Sr. Mary Isabel Kilpatrick label and seal the yogurt containers.

making yogurt, now in San Clemente.  First, someone offered their house for the classes, the women contributed ingredients and shared the product at the end. While in this area, Sr. Mary Isabel and her volunteers discovered a small hall that had been built recently for people with special needs. The watchman, a blind man, offered the use of this hall, far from the centre of town but with better conditions and more space for the course. This location put the Sisters and volunteers in touch with some of the families with special needs in the area.

Project Becomes Sustainable
From this contact, they developed two small lunch programmes, one in this centre for disabled persons and another in the Santa Rosa barrio, in collaboration with the Dominican Sisters ministering also in San Clemente. Various groups of women enjoyed taking the courses but they had difficulty in organizing themselves to be able to continue.

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Jenny and Rosa collect milk for the Yogurt Project while little Yumi helps.

Later, we were able to rebuild  one of the rooms damaged by the earthquake  next to our house in the Parish. This space is large enough to have the necessary equipment and reasonable conditions for groups to learn different skills. With the help of our engineer friend, Maria, a small group of women developed successfully the Yogurt Project. At present, by working two days a week, the six women are able to produce 60-80 litres of yogurt. This amount covers the cost of the ingredients and gives a small profit for each participant as they sell the yogurt. It is possible to increase the capacity but the women are not yet ready to take that step.

Preparing-the-fruit-Jenny web
Jenny assists in the fruit preparation.

Although the project is small, it is significant as a source of income for the families involved; the product itself has health benefits for the recipients; the  participants  have developed friendships, learned to deal with customers and  to cope with fluctuations in prices and availability of ingredients. They have their trials and tribulations but also a place to share them. They bring more life to the parish community. They hope eventually to provide catering services for groups that come for baptisms and funerals.

Development for Women
Besides the Natural Yogurt Project, Sister Mary Isabel is creating an Integrated Development Program for Women by providing workshops and hands-on training. Sewing Projects, such as painted tablecloths, which are sold, give training and income and cover as well the cost of the materials and supplies for the women workers. The Baking Project allows saleable goods yielding some income for the women workers after financing initial expenses. A growing program, Healing Touch, trains pastoral health group members to use “energy medicine” as a tool for overall wellness. An educational component is growing slowly yet positively as two women prepare for Level 5 certification. About 50 women have benefited directly from these projects while many more members of the parish community also received assistance.

Although family responsibilities continue to make demands on the time and energy of these women, those who choose to work together and learn new skills, do become more self-sufficient. They grow in confidence in their own abilities and a sense of God’s goodness in their lives.

GW June 2016 – Enabling Women with New Skills.pdf

Good Works Archives

 

Action for Change in a New Era

By Sisters Phyllis Cook and Lucy Musembi, SNDdeN

Notre-Dame-Goes-to-KenyaNotre Dame in Kenya celebrates a Golden Jubilee (1965-2015), a time of gratitude for the gifts of fifty years and hope for a new future! When the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) arrived in Kenya in 1965, education was considered a priority for the newly independent nation. Full of hopeful expectation, the country faced dramatic changes. In educating the young, the Sisters contributed much to the changing environment in the early years and throughout these fifty years.

Today in 2015, Kenya has developed enormously and is becoming gradually a developed country, despite many internal problems. Aware of increasing violence, based on discrimination within our global reality, the Sisters in the Kenya Unit realise the need to facilitate education for change. Technology has led to growth in many areas, even in the financial realm. However, the economic gap between the rich and those living in poverty increases every day.

Sisters-in-Kenya-Unit-opened-the-Jubilee-YearJubilee Gift of Growth
As educators, the Sisters are experiencing a call for personal, communal and societal transformation, leading to tolerance, justice and peace. During the Church’s Year of Consecrated Life, they are beginning the next chapter of life with the entire Notre Dame Congregation. Multiple blessings emanate from a religious congregation which is international. During Notre Dame’s fifty-years in Kenya, Sisters from Congo, Japan, Nigeria, United Kingdom (UK), and USA have served in various ministries for extended periods of time. Presently, twenty-one professed Sisters carry on the legacy of the Kenya Unit. Fourteen Sisters are Kenyans. Inspired by the spirit of St. Julie, alive in the communities and ministries of Sisters, ten young women are currently discerning entrance into our Congregation.

Sr.-Maximilla-Matuba..Notre Dame Owned Ministry
Rooted in Kenyan life, the Sisters yearn for ministries on Notre Dame owned land. Today Malava, in Kakamega Diocese, has a flourishing school opened in January 2010 with a small class of 3 year olds who are now in Class 3. The school continues to grow in modern, well-equipped classrooms. A new building is almost ready to accommodate a full elementary school with classes from Grades 1 to 8.

The Sisters’ ministries cross the whole range of education, not only in schools but also in the wider sense of being with people as they strive for self-reliance. A strong focus on justice and peace calls the Sisters to greater awareness of our world in crisis and to action for change in a new era. As Kenya still reels from the Garissa University attack, the Sisters look forward to acting on principles of justice and peace in their ministries among the people and in their own lives.

Sr-Mary-and-Fr-HansBeginnings in Collaboration
The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have always collaborated with the Church, religious congregations and local communities in their ministries in Kenya. The first five Sisters brought St. Julie Billiart’s living charism by proclaiming the goodness of God in small communities and expanding ministries. They began teaching at St. Mary’s Girls’ Secondary School and St. Lawrence’s Teacher Training College in Egoji. Each year, more Sisters arrived. Both primary and secondary teachers-in-training profited from the Sisters’ expertise and experience in several places, including Eregi Teachers’ Training College in Western Kenya and Kenyatta University College near Nairobi. In catechetical teams and as parish ministers, the Sisters helped to teach new methods in religious education at all levels across the country. The Sisters opened schools in the dioceses of Meru, Kakamega and Lodwar. They knew that the schools, once established, would be given to local Religious Congregations. Bishop Sulumeti Girls’ Secondary School in Kakamega is one of these schools. At the invitation of the Bishop, Sisters spent twelve years opening and grounding students in a solid education. Recently, one SNDdeN spent five years on the staff of this school which educates today over 900 young women. Two alumnae are Notre Dame Sisters who continue to spread God’s goodness.

From the beginning, the Sisters networked closely with local Congregations, and helped to establish the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya. SNDdeN contributed to formation programs for seminarians and other women religious. Serving in very poor areas of Nairobi and Kisumu, the Sisters collaborated with the Mill Hill Fathers in assisting local communities to move towards a better quality of life.

Music-and-choirsChildren Living with Disabilities
In different towns /cities, our Sisters have educated disabled children. Several Sisters joined the staff at St. Lucy’s School for the Blind at Egoji. Others worked with children living with disabilities in the Challenge Program in Nairobi. For ten years, St. Julie’s Centre for Disabled Children in Malava gave needed support for educating those in need. Today, the fruits of this ministry remain visible. Our Sisters are not strangers to life in the desert. One Sister became the headmistress in Marsabit Girls’ Secondary School, a new and struggling school. Three Sisters went to Lodwar where they founded a Girls’ Primary School. One of them travelled the desert roads throughout Turkana strengthening religious education in the diocese and in helping the women become more self-sufficient. Two Kenyan Sisters first met our Sisters in Lodwar. The Sisters hope that St. Julie’s daughters will again minister in the future among the Turkana people.

Srs.-Jane-and-EvalyneOngoing Life in Mission
Life in Mission relies on continuing education of the Sisters since the beginning of the Kenya Unit. Through study, the Sisters become more caring, professional teachers, knowledgeable and astute stewards of resources, effective communicators, versatile and compassionate social ministers. Education prepares Sisters for the future and moves systems to action for transformation in society and change in our Church and world.


Source: Good Works, June 2015. pp. 4-7. Reprinted with permission. GWJune2015

A New Generation of Women at Notre Dame Academy (1853-2015)

By Sister Barbara Barry, SNDdeN, alumna ’69, former NDA President (1996-2014)

The year was 1853. In Venice, Italy, Verdi’s La Traviata premiered, while in the USA, the first horse-drawn fire engine made its debut in Cincinnati, Gail Borden patented his process for condensed milk, the first potato chips were prepared, Steinway pianos were founded in New York, Antoinette Blackwell was the first woman to be ordained a minister. On Lancaster Street in Boston, Massachusetts, the Boston Academy of Notre Dame opened its doors to educate young women. Now, 162 years later, the school continues, in the tradition of our early Belgian Sisters to educate girls, from grades 7 through 12, in faith, character, and scholarship, by following St. Julie Billiart’s inspiration to “train up strong women.”

Mary-Janice-Bartolo,-SNDdeNThe original academy outgrew four campuses in Boston: Lancaster Street, Berkeley Street, the Fenway [now Emmanuel College] and Granby Street. In 1954, the Boston Academy merged with Notre Dame Academy (NDA) in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston and in 1965,the school relocated to Hingham, Massachusetts, 15 miles south of Boston. While locations changed through the years, the purpose and ideals of the school continue in programs always focused on St. Julie’s mandate: “Teach them what they need to know for life.” Academic excellence and faith formation are primary goals for all students. Graduates are well-prepared for further study at college/university level and are also well-grounded for life in faith and ethics.

NDA-Alumnae
Women: Business, Science and Environment

Throughout the years, the Sisters with lay faculty and administrators adapted the curriculum to meet the needs of the day. Early in the school’s history, when men dominated the business arena, the Academy offered business courses and trained young women to work in office settings. In years when science courses were not considered the norm for girls, the Academy offered biology, chemistry and physics. The science curriculum now includes Julie-Quoteenvironmental science courses as well as engineering and robotics. Students work with local environmental agencies to identify and register vernal pools for protection. A vegetable garden, planted on campus last year by faculty and students, yields produce for the school’s dining service. In the near future, the students and faculty hope to share vegetables with local food pantries.

A Generation of Women in Social Justice
In the 1960s, with the new directions in the Church after the Second Vatican Council, the Academy updated the religion curriculum to include social justice courses with a service component and encouraged students to question and seek the truth. Alumnae from every generation realize that the Sisters taught them for generations to find their voice as women on major social issues. Today, NDA students focus on global education and the care of the earth.

Language study is still a critical element in the curriculum, with programs in French, Spanish, Latin, and also Mandarin Chinese and American Sign Language. Multi-cultural travel experiences to England, France, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, China and various parts of the United States include a service and learning component for the students. The Academy also collaborates in an international student exchange program with Notre Dame High School in Plymouth, England.

Mission and Service
Pat-Toce,-SNDdeNNDA’s greatest resource is its faculty and staff. Well-educated and committed to the Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, these women and men inspire students to stretch beyond who they are now to reach new horizons. They model life-long learning and community involvement. Service is a way of life at NDA where faculty and staff work side by side with the girls in all the service projects.

Current and prospective parents visiting the school recognize the comfortable relationship in the classes between teachers and students. Many alumnae have been and are today faculty, staff and administrators at Notre Dame Academy, as well as in other ND ministries. Also, many young women educated at these different campuses of Notre Dame Academy have entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, to carry forward the Gospel Mission in academies, parish schools, centers and to stand with the poor in varied ministries in the US and across borders, cultures and generations. Vita-MagazineFaithful to making known God’s goodness, the NDA community continues to thrive and to educate a new generation of young women to proclaim the Gospel in their daily lives and for years into the future.

View vita! – our NDA magazine at www.ndahingham.com  (About/Publications)


Source: Good Works, March 2015, pp. 10-12. Reprinted with permission. GWMarch2015.pdf(1)

In the Great Northwest

By Sister Elizabeth Tiernan, SNDdeN

Invited by the Jesuit missionary, Fr. De Smet, SJ, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur arrived from Belgium in the Pacific Northwest in 1844. ” In St. Paul, Oregon, the Sisters established a school for the daughters of the fur traders and Native Americans or mixed-blood women. The Sisters also prepared local Indian women and fur traders’ wives to receive the sacraments. The offered instruction in French and also acquired some knowledge of the Chinook language.

… “Sr. Julie Codd, CSJP,  introduced me to the native community who inspired me by their spirituality, sense of relationship with all Creation, and their belief in the power of tradition and sacred ceremonies. With Sr. Julie, I do believe that: “The Church needs the native people.”

From Good Works, March 2015, pp. 18-19. Excepts reprinted with permission.Mota Family before Mass at Chief Seattle Club

Corryville Catholic, Cincinnati, OH (USA)

Sr. Mary Ann Zwijack, SNDdeN teaches Grade 8 and spends extra time with students needing help with special projects.
Sr. Mary Ann Zwijack, SNDdeN teaches Grade 8 and spends extra time with students needing help with special projects.

Sister Marie Smith, SNDdeN, Principal (1983-2013), writes: “Located in this major Ohio city, Corryville has a diverse student body from different socio-economic communities and cultural backgrounds. A wrap-around school, connecting programs and services with specific children, Corryville uses Choices for Children, a project  to meet the needs of individual students. The school’s Mission is to educate the whole child, from pre-school through Grade 8, by meeting the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of each student.”  Learn more

Good Works, March 2015, pp. 8-9.

The Vision Unfolds

by Sister Carol Shoup, SNDdeN

Manley Hall, built in 2002, replaced the O'Connor Mansion, deemed structurally unsafe after the 1989 earthquake.
Manley Hall, built in 2002, replaced the O’Connor Mansion, deemed structurally unsafe after the 1989 earthquake.

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Notre Dame High School, San Jose, CA is a part of another story which began over 170 years ago at the port of Antwerp in Belgium. Having waited for weeks for the winds to propel l’Infatigable, six Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) set sail for the faraway land of Oregon. In 1844, they opened a small mission in the Willamette Valley for children of the Chinook tribes and early settlers. The Oregon mission, however, met innumerable challenges and closed when the Sisters accepted an invitation to found a mission in California where needs were growing faster in the capital of San Jose.

CHALLENGES IN SAN JOSE
In 1851, the Sisters established a college and a day school on Santa Clara Street with 180 Catholic and 75 non-Catholic students of Native American and European families. With donations from clergy and city leaders, the Notre Dame schools grew along this “avenue of willows.” In 1927, the day school moved to the O’Connor Mansion and became the current Notre Dame High School, San Jose (NDSJ) and the college moved north to Belmont.

Sr. Carol and NDSJ students celebrate Catholic Schools' Week in St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Jose, CA.
Sr. Carol and NDSJ students celebrate Catholic Schools’ Week in St. Joseph Cathedral in downtown San Jose, CA.

As the oldest all-girls’ high school west of the Mississippi, NDSJ, rich in tradition, flourished through two centuries with the help of many individuals who supported the SNDdeN Mission. Yet the years were not without challenge and risk-taking. With the necessary removal of the O’Connor Mansion in 2002, the future of NDSJ required the same courage and determination found in our early Sisters. The faculty and staff imagined and planned for a multi-cultural learning community in an urban landscape. With vision and funding provided by friends and benefactors, Manley Hall, a new building, became a reality in October 2002 and gave impetus to a renewed vision for young women in the 21st century.

Learn more  |   Good Works, March 2015  |  Notre Dame High School, San Jose, CA

Our Mission in America (1840-2015)

final_ycl_logo_en_new In this Year of Consecrated Life, the Church is celebrating religious congregations throughout the world. The Church recognizes also their founders and foundresses. This year 2015 marks also the 175th anniversary of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in America.

Only 36 years after the founding of the Congregation by St. Julie Billiart in Amiens, France in 1804. Mère Ignace Goethals, our third Superior General, sent the first missionaries to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1840. Desiring herself to be a missionary in America, Mother Ignace welcomed the request of Jean-Baptiste Purcell, Bishop of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA, who, during his visit to Namur, Belgium in 1839, asked for Sisters to teach in his diocese.

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…Learn more

AH! THE WONDER OF LIGHT, WATER AND COMMUNICATIONS

APP-2015-iconConceived from Sr. Lorraine’s vision of connecting our Sisters in Africa to places beyond their isolated villages, the African Photovoltaic Project (APP) began to take shape in 2003. Today, the dream has become a reality in Fugar and Awkunanaw, Nigeria and in Kitenda, Lemfu, Ngidinga and Pelende, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with wonderful life changes and options. Convents, schools and clinics/hospital in two countries are now experiencing life with electricity for lighting, refrigeration, water purification and communications. Rooms set up with basic technology equipment in these ministries provide access to the Internet for teachers, primary and secondary classes as well as health care personnel. The Congo compounds organize these facilities by using available materials. Now, the wider community also benefits from technology at these four sites.

Good Works, November 2013, pp. 8-9, 13
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