Sr. Jeannette and the women

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur first went from the United States to La Savane, Haiti, in 2009, at the request of Monseigneur Alix VERRIER, Bishop of the Diocese of les Cayes. La Savane is one of the 32 slums in the Les Cayes Province, with a population of about 25,000 inhabitants. This was according to a study done in 2009 by a team of interdisciplinary researchers. Haiti is described as the poorest country in the Northern Hemisphere. The country also faces constant challenges with natural disasters, such tropical storms, lightning, floods, earthquakes, and tsunamis. These factors exacerbate the already deplorable economic and social conditions of the population. Women in La Savane, as in many parts of Haiti are the worst affected by the economic and social conditions in the country. Many of these women are single mothers, and with little or no education, most of them cannot provide for the basic needs of their children. As a result, many children as young as six, roam the streets begging or scavenging for food from dumpsites. This situation, unfortunately, exposes the children to situations of exploitation and abuse.

Sister Jeannette Pierre-Louis, SNDdeN has continued to respond to the needs of the


Women in a culinary art class


women and children of La Savane, since 2009. She administers the Notre Dame Family Education Center where about 120 women are enrolled in the basic literacy program, culinary and pastry art, sewing, embroidery and floral art. With the skills these women acquire from the center, they are able to start their own small businesses through which they generate some income to feed their families and pay tuition for their children. Many of the women now make uniforms for their children, and clothes for themselves and other families members. About 50 children, aged, 6 to 12 are also currently enrolled in the Notre Dame Family Education Center. The children learn basic reading, writing, and Math. In addition to learning to read and write, the children also engage in sporting and other extra-curricular activities. They receive one free meal a day from the center as well.


Children having their meal

Thanks to Sister Jeannette’s determination, and support from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Notre Dame Associates, Notre Dame Americorp Volunteers, and donors, most of the children at the Notre Dame Family Education Center who probably would never have had an opportunity in life for a formal education, can now read and write. Quite characteristic for a Sister of Notre Dame, Sr. Jeannette believes that “every child has a right to education because education is key to a brighter future.” Sr. Jeannette continues to proclaim God’s loving care   and goodness to the people of La Savane, Haiti.


Watch Video of Sister Jeannette Pierre-Louis in La Savane, Haiti:



3June 12 is designated by the United Nations as the World Day Against Child Labour. The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines child labour as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential, and their dignity, and that is harmful to the physical and mental development of a child.” To be considered as child labour, the ILO maintains that work must be “mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to a child, and must also interfere with a child’s school, make them leave school or require them to combine school attendance with excessively long and heavy work.” Over two million children around the world, especially in developing countries are forced into worst forms of child labour such as; working in very dangerous situations, slavery, drug trafficking, prostitution and armed conflict, according to a recent ILO report. The theme for the 2018 World Day Against Child Labour is; “The Global Need to Improve the Safety and Health of Young Workers and End to Child Labour.”


Below are facts and figures from a recent International Labour Organization report on the situation of child labour worldwide.

  • Worldwide 218 million children between 5 and 17 years are in employment.
    Among them, 152 million are victims of child labour; almost half of them, 73 million, work in hazardous child labour.
  • In absolute terms, almost half of child labour (72.1 million) is to be found in Africa; 62.1 million in the Asia and the Pacific; 10.7 million in the Americas; 1.2 million in the Arab States and 5.5 million in Europe and Central Asia.
  • In terms of prevalence, 1 in 5 children in Africa (19.6%) are in child labour, whilst prevalence in other regions is between 3% and 7%: 2.9% in the Arab States (1 in 35 children); 4.1% in Europe and Central Asia (1 in 25); 5.3% in the Americas (1 in 19) and 7.4% in Asia and the Pacific region (1 in 14).
  • Almost half of all 152 million children victims of child labour are aged 5-11 years.
    42 million (28%) are 12-14 years old; and 37 million (24%) are 15-17 years old.
  • Hazardous child labour is most prevalent among the 15-17 years old. Nevertheless, up to a fourth of all hazardous child labour (19 million) is done by children less than 12 years old.
  • Among 152 million children in child labour, 88 million are boys and 64 million are 4girls.
  • 58% of all children in child labour and 62% of all children in hazardous work are boys. Boys appear to face a greater risk of child labour than girls, but this may also be a reflection of an under-reporting of girls’ work, particularly in domestic child labour.
  • Child labour is concentrated primarily in agriculture (71%), which includes fishing, forestry, livestock herding and aquaculture, and comprises both subsistence and commercial farming; 17% in Services; and 12% in the Industrial sector, including mining.


Read more: Convention on the Rights of the Child:

Convention Concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment;

Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention:

International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour:


1The United Nations General Assembly, in a resolution adopted on December 2011, declared October 11 of every year as the International Day of the Girl Child. The purpose of this day is to increase awareness and address the needs and challenges girls around the world face. It is also a day to specifically advocate for the empowerment of girls and the promotion of their human rights. Some of the challenges faced by girls around the world include a lack of access to quality education, gender-based discrimination, forced marriage, lack of quality healthcare, and numerous others.

 It is important that teachers and those who work with children, especially the girl child, familiarize themselves with some of the relevant UN human rights instruments in order to safeguard the rights of these children. Some pertinent mechanisms for reference in regards to the human rights of the girl child include the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Read more:

Convention on the Rights of the Child;

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women;

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities:


August 12, International Youth Day, presents all of us with an opportunity to celebrate and promote youth engagement in societies around the world. As the UN agency UNESCO says, “More efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to the individual and to society, including for sustainable development as well as resilience and wellbeing.”


The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Although more than 4 million youths go abroad to study each year, 74 million more are unemployed and also not in school. When youths are engaged in their communities, they and society both benefit. Skills training and community programs can be expensive for countries with limited resources, but in the end it will cost even more not to provide this societal support.

   Learn about Youth Day: copy

Participate in local youth day activities



UN Global Education Envoy Gordon Brown called for a multi-million dollar emergency fund for education, noting that refugee children have the fewest opportunities for schooling. Good news: an innovative on-air school enables Syrian and Iraqi children, whose education has been disrupted by conflict, to start learning again.


Anna ShketBy Anna Shket, Intern in SNDatUN Office

On Friday, April 24, the UN Security Council held a meeting on the situation in the Middle East, particularly the refugee crisis in Syria. Nearly four million Syrians are refugees in neighboring countries; moreover, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria increased to 12.2 million today. In 2014 Syria received 40 percent of all OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) humanitarian aid. This fact demonstrates that the crisis has become the world’s largest humanitarian emergency.

So the question remains – why does the UN fail to prevent and end the conflict in Syria? I would like to emphasize that it is unconditionally not only a concern of the Syrian government but all parties involved in conflict. Moreover, it is an entire international community responsibility to bring to an end the suffering of civilians. The Executive Director of the World Food Program, Ertharin Cousin, urged during the meeting for regional stability and security. Funding shortfalls fuel extreme poverty, making refugees vulnerable to traffickers and extremists, and limiting plans such as UNICEF initiatives in reaching pregnant women and providing children with feeding programmes.

UN Special Envoy for Refugees, Angelina Jolie-Pitt, states that the UN is failing to bring countries together. “If we cannot end the conflict, we have an inescapable moral duty to help refugees and provide legal avenues to safety.” It did not take long to verify this statement, since about an hour later the representatives of Turkey and Syria were having polemics on the responsibilities in fueling the crisis. It is the obligation of all states to stop the deterioration of the Syrian crisis, find diplomatic solutions, and fully collaborate in order to assist innocent people who have no part in an ongoing conflict. It is a UN responsibility to find a political solution.

Learn more:  Syrian refugee crisis as bad as Rwandan genocide:
                      Syria’s massive population displacement: