SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME DE NAMUR WORKING: TOWARDS THE EMPOWERMENT OF RURAL WOMEN IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

4By Isabelle Izika and Marie-Josephine Ibanda, SNDdeN: The contribution of women to the socio-economic development of their communities, especially in developing countries, is a well-established fact.  As the former UN Secretary General Ban-ki-Moon pointed out, this contribution is based on an education that frees and empowers women. However, in some parts of the world, for example, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this reality remains but a slogan for women living in rural areas. Thanks to the missionary efforts of Sisters of Notre Dame de

Sr. Marie-Josephine and members of GSEC      Namur (SNDdeN), and that of other Religious Congregations who have dedicated over a century to educating women and girls, preparing them to take their necessary roles in society as agents of development.  The first educated women in the DRC were products of schools administered by Catholic Religious Women. Until this day, in the rural province of Kwango, best schools, where girls can receive quality education and formation, are those run by Religious Congregations, including Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Unfortunately, despite their level of education or professional training, women from this 5region of the DRC are still under-represented in the public sector, except in the teaching and healthcare professions, which are often not well paid. As a result, many women who do not feel attracted to either the teaching or healthcare profession end up in the informal sector (often subsistence agriculture). The income these women generate is barely sufficient for the enormous financial responsibilities they undertake in their families.  According to a recent survey conducted by SNDdeN among students in in many of the schools they administered in the DRC, nearly 90% of the students, especially girls, are financially supported by their mothers. This reality is barely acknowledged and valued.

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Member of GSEC receiving her savings

In an effort to offer some relief to the ever-increasing financial constraints many of these women face daily, and also to create a forum where they can come together for mutual support on other life issues, SNDdeN in the parishes of Pelende and Kitenda began an initiative known as “Groupe de Solidarité, d’Epargne et de Crédit (GSEC)” (Group of Solidarity, Saving and Credit). The women organize themselves in groups of 25 people at most. Each group elects a directing committee composed of a president, a secretary, a cashier-treasurer and three tellers. They have regular encounters according to the internal rules defined by the group. During these encounters, each person brings her saving into the solidarity cash box according to the sum fixed by the group. After several encounters, each woman at a given time asks for a credit to begin an activity that will generate income. This credit will be given with an interest rate and a date for repayment fixed by the group. The solidarity cash box allows them to intervene in extreme cases of illness or death in the family. It also provides means for paying their children’s school fees promptly.

 

In addition to financial activities, the women who are members of the GSEC get informed and inform each other about other subjects such as; hygiene, reproductive health, good manners, food security, and many more.

 

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NOTRE DAME VIRTUAL SCHOOL: SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME de NAMUR EDUCATING FOR LIFE

pic-1Sister Kristin Hokanson, Principal, Notre Dame Virtual School: The Notre Dame Virtual School, which was founded in 2001, was inspired by St. Julie’s quote: “In the schools teach whatever is necessary for life.”  In today’s world, a solid understanding of technology and how to use technological resources is absolutely necessary for life.   The virtual school continues to update its mission by educating students and Sisters with the latest trends in technology. NDVS uses technology to further the Mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in new and diverse ways in their schools. A special focus of the virtual school is Digital Citizenship, and NDVS uses the resources of the International Society of Technology in Education to implement the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship organized by the principles of respect, educate, and protect.

Each week, NDVS sends a mailing to schools with a wide variety of resources on technology, prayer and liturgy, and Catholic social teaching.  A prominent focus this year is the Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the United Nations.  Each month a Global Goal is selected as a focus, and resources are available on Notre Dame Online.

NDVS networks the Notre Dame Schools through a variety of ways which includewordpress-1 videoconferencing, coordinating web exchanges, using social media, professional development and participating in Notre Dame sponsored conferences.  Through this networking, schools and sponsored ministries share with each other the ways in which they live the Notre Dame charism, and a virtual community is created.                            2016 GPS Participants

wordpress-2Notre Dame Virtual School has assisted Notre Dame Academy (NDA) in Worcester, Massachusetts with the coordination of two special programs: the Global Perspective Studies (GPS) program and the Digital Citizenship programs. Through the World Language Department, GPS offers NDA students an opportunity to expand their knowledge of world cultures. The aspects of this program are: world language study, connection with other Notre Dame schools foreign and domestic, cultural contact, curriculum integration, service, travel, and a summative portfolio/reflection. Students who fulfill the requirements of the program receive a certificate upon graduation, which is noted on the final transcript.

NDA’s Digital Citizenship Program is required of all first-year students and teaches the worldpress-3nine elements of digital citizenship: Access, Commerce, Communication, Etiquette, Law, Rights and Responsibilities, Health and Wellness, and Security.  Students learn detailed issues in technology that are important for them to be global citizens.  At the completion of the program, students earn a Digital Citizenship Certificate, demonstrating competency in the appropriate and responsible use of technology.  Some students also go on to earn their Digital Citizenship Driver’s License, which indicates an advanced level of knowledge about these important issues.

Through both of these program, NDA Worcester and NDVS prepare students to become more aware of the challenges of our constantly evolving world.

 

 

FOR GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING, EDUCATION AND TREATMENT ARE ESSENTIAL

11-16-5By Rose Ndianefo, SNDdeN: Notre Dame Medical Center in Amoyo, Nigeria, provides antenatal care and delivery and child welfare services, including the following: counseling on the benefit of exclusive breast feeding; education on proper nutrition for pregnant women and children under the age of five; nutritional supplements for pregnant women and children; health education on malaria and Hepatitis B prevention, tests, and immunization program for infants; vaccination of children and adults against Hepatitis B and meningitis; treatment for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, urinary tract infection, malaria, typhoid fever, and many more as the situation arises. Staffed by doctors, nurses, midwives, Community Health Extension Workers, and laboratory technicians, the Center serves about 230 women, 200 infants and children under the age of five, and 350 teenagers and adults, including orphaned and vulnerable children.

NOTRE DAME EDUCATION CENTER, LAWRENCE, MA: SISTERS OF NOTRE DAME MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF IMMIGRANTS

By Sister Eileen Burns, Executive Director, NDEC-L: In 1996, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur established Notre Dame Education Center-Lawrence (NDEC-L) on the former St. Mary’s High School site. Today 7 Sisters minister at NDEC-L with 6 more on our corporation and board of directors.

At the Center, Low-income, under educated adults are empowered to improve and enrich

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Sr. Kathleen Murphy with students

their lives and the lives of their families in an environment that is welcoming, respectful and dignified. Through access to quality direct services, collaboration, and advocacy for positive change, NDEC provides goal-oriented education, skills
training, language and literacy development, enrichment opportunities and support services.

 

newsletter-5NDEC assists and supports adult learners to achieve their next steps and reach their full potential as productive, contributing workers in the community and in society. Over the last 20 years, NDEC-L has provided nearly 7,000 adults, mostly immigrants, with English language classes, job skills training, high school equivalency test preparation, citizenship classes, and assistance to become U.S. citizens. Center programs make a difference in the lives of new immigrants and Lawrence residents by providing adult learners with the life skills needed to support better employment, a stable and consistent family life, and a commitment to the neighborhood community.

FOR GOOD HEALTH AND WELL-BEING, EDUCATION AND TREATMENT ARE ESSENTIAL

11-16-5By Rose Ndianefo, SNDdeN: Notre Dame Medical Centre in Amoyo, Nigeria, provides antenatal care and delivery and child welfare services, including the following: counseling on the benefit of exclusive breast feeding; education on proper nutrition for pregnant women and children under the age of five; nutritional supplements for pregnant women and children; health education on malaria and Hepatitis B prevention, tests, and immunization programme for infants; vaccination of children and adults against Hepatitis B and meningitis; treatment for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, urinary tract infection, malaria, typhoid fever, and many more as the situation arises. Staffed by doctors, nurses, midwives, Community Health Extension Workers, and laboratory technicians, the Centre serves about 230 women, 200 infants and children under the age of five, and 350 teenagers and adults, including orphaned and vulnerable children.

GLOBAL CONSULTATION ON EDUCATION: INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE

16-00019f_Website-banners-300x100During a 2014 online consultation regarding Sustainable Development Goals, the number one priority across all 9,000,000 respondents was a good education. Now, in preparation for a UN Conference in South Korea at the end of May, another global consultation has begun. Contribute your ideas about education for global citizenship: www.worldwewant2030.org (choose your language) and access the draft action agenda for the Conference: bit.ly/20NNz8C

DPI/NGO Conference: Education for Global Citizenship

The sixty-sixth Department of Public Information (DPI)/Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Conference will take place in Gyeongju, Republic of Korea, from 30 May to 1 June 2016. Organised by the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, NGO community, Government of the Republic of Korea, and National Organizing Committee of Korea, this year’s Conference will focus on Education for Global Citizenship: Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals Together.

Participants will consider three pillars of education:
1. Formal Education
2. Informal Education and Training
3. Advocacy and Public Information

According to Conference organizers, “The Conference aims at harnessing expertise across a wide spectrum of civil society organizations to unleash a range of education initiatives that ensure equitable quality education as well as lifelong learning opportunities for all.”   

For more information: outreach.un.org/ngorelations/conference-2016/

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