Category Archives: Rural Schools

Sisters Teach in an Isolated Place

Sister Obioma Ezewuzie, SNDdeN, Headteacher

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Sister Obioma Ezewuzie, SNDdeN, Principal, speaks at a graduation ceremony.

As the poorest school mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in Nigeria, Notre Dame Nursery and Primary School, Ugwuomu-Nike, fosters the charism of our Congregation by taking education to a small village, an abandoned place. This educational mission is certainly close to the heart of our foundress, St. Julie Billiart. Our school serves specifically the children of people living in poverty: palm-wine tappers and peasant farmers. The school helps many parents who are unable to pay school fees or buy books for their children. The school provides also a source of employment for the wives of these farmers as well as young girls trying to earn a living in Ugwuomu–Nike.

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Sister Schola Onwumar, SNDdeN helps little children with a project.

This Notre Dame School, Ugwuomu- Nike, is in Enugu State, East Local Government Area, which is the Southeastern part of Nigeria. In, 1996, the Diocesesan Office of Peace and Justice asked the SNDdeN to assume responsibility and to manage this educational project. At first, the Sisters lived among the people by renting a small house. Since the nursery and primary school were never economically self-sufficient, eventually in 2006, the Diocese handed over the school and land to the SNDdeN. In assuming ownership, the Nigeria Province built a small convent on the property to show that we had come to stay and to throw in our lot with the local people. A Catholic church, half built, graces the village today and does have a resident priest.

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Sister Nkechi Onah, SNDdeN, shows her pupils how to weave palm leaves into mats.

Quality Education
Our school is without any doubt the best school in the local region. In this far-away place, five Sisters, with lay co-workers, offer quality education in the early stages of learning. Every day, some children walk a very long distance of seven to eight miles from their homes to the school. To reinforce the learning process in school and at home, we print exercise books for the children. In school, we do also seasonal farming and plant cassava which is one of the major foods here; and we sell snacks to the pupils. We ask help from some of the parents who are more secure economically. They have contributed resources to put ceilings in a few of the classrooms. At present the school has two hundred and fifty pupils with twelve teachers and two helpers. Twenty percent of children in the school are supported financially by our Notre Dame sponsorship program.

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Sister Chidinma Nwasunja, SNDdeN, teaches her pupils computer science.

Challenges for Power and Transportation
In the community where the school is located, there is electricity. Even when the residents pay as much as they are able, the electrical current is low or scarce. Most of the time, we need to run our generator, especially for the computer classes. Another obstacle is the bad road leading from the city to our village. Cars are not very popular on that road because only four-wheel drives can manage the terrain on an untarred road. The mixture of sand and clay is very dusty during the dry season and slippery during the rainy season. The main public transport is to climb on the back of a motor bike behind the driver. The cost of this transport rises considerably when the road is almost impassable. Sometimes two or three passengers climb on one bike. Some Sisters have scars on their legs and arms from the poor drivers’ efforts to avoid hitting a goat darting out from the bush or slipping and sliding in the sand and the mud. Mud also sticks to one’s shoes or sandals when walking during the rainy season. The majority of the children walk to school; a few students pay to ride a motor bike.

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Sister Jumoke Balogun, SNDdeN, makes reading a priority for her students.

God is so visibly present here in many ways.
The Sisters called to this ministry in nursery and primary education are happy, adaptable women who find joy and God in serving people living in poverty and in supporting them and one another. The village is quite isolated. Most resources, provisions and contacts are located in the nearest city at a distance of 45 minutes to an hour’s drive. The people of Ugwuomu-Nike are happy to have the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in their village; they value the education and support their children receive in the school. They appreciate also help provided from abroad. From the funds contributed by many generous donors, our Province has been able to advance the growth of our school. Through grant funding, the school has more resources for education: some recreational equipment for the nursery section, football posts for the primary section, classroom furniture, computers for children to reach the wider world and learn more through technology. Funding has also provided a portion of staff salaries.

The Sisters called to this ministry in nursery and primary education are happy, adaptable women who find joy and God in serving people living in poverty and in supporting them and one another.

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
http://www.sndden.org

Shovels Become Educational Tools

… TEACHING SUSTAINABILITY

Tilling and Planting ProcessThe Farm Project is another way for IMEC (International Medical Equipment Collaborative) to share resources for sustainability and to collaborate in an educational project in partnership with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. For our schools in Peru, the project will allow for effective teaching and accessibility to resources needed to tend the earth. Sr. Marleny and the staff in the Tambogrande region are planning to extend this learning and make equipment accessible to the students’ families. IMEC is shipping 40 Farm Suites to Peru in this first phase of the Farming Program. Expanding involvement in our partnership with IMEC enables SNDs to bring about growth for more people in this rural area. We are able also to envision new possibilities for our sisters and brothers who live in poverty in other cultures and countries around our fragmented world. Shovels Become Educational Tools

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Fourth Week of Lent

 

New Challenges for SNDs in Peru

NewChallengeforSNDsinPERU-3The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in the Peru/Nicaragua Province have accepted a new challenge. They have a new mission in the rural area of Tambogrande, north of Lima, Peru. The Sisters are now administering a network of schools, with a central office in Malingas. Sr. Marleny, SNDdeN is the Director of the Rural Network Programme “Fe y Alegria” No. 48. She is administrator for 31 schools in 15 villages. She works with 100 teachers and a team of 10 people who assist her in accompanying the teachers. There are 2,147 pupils at initial, primary, secondary and adult levels. Learn more…  NewChallengeforSNDsinPERU

Websites: sndden.org
Fourth Week of Lent features a new video: “Hoes and Hope in Tambogrande, Peru”
Find more information about the Sisters of Notre Dame’s Educational Networks at NotreDameOnLine.org