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October 2012
Celebrating the Good God
Josephine's Journey
An After-School Education
What's in a Name?
Quick Links
"Bondye Bon..."
The dignity of Haitian women as expressed in this photo is legendary. Women are both the  breadwinners and caretakers in Haiti's impoverished society.
"Bondye Bon," Creole for "God is Good," is exclaimed daily around the Notre Dame Family Education Center in Les Cayes, Haiti. The women and their children who frequent the Center for food, health care and education provided by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur thank God every day for their good fortune.
"Bondye Bon!"
According to Sister Jeannette Pierre-Louis, the Haitian women with whom she works have one thing -- and one thing only -- in mind.
"These women are strong," says Sister Jeannette. "They are fiercely focused about working to find money for their children's food and school fees. They all know that education is the way out of poverty."
"God is really good because I have something in my hands to help me feed my children." 
Earthquake refugee living in the slums of Les Cayes, Haiti 
Finding Hope and Sustenance in a Slum
At Notre Dame Family Education Center in Haiti's 'La Savane' slum, Josephine learned how to sew doll clothes and embellish figurines that Haitians frequently purchase as decorations.
On Jan. 11, 2010, Josephine was doing what mothers everywhere do -- minding her children and thinking about locating food for the evening meal. Within 24-hours, she and her four children were skidding into the misery and madness of the streets of Port au Prince, Haiti, following a massive earthquake. Months later, Josephine and her children found themselves as refugees in the largest slum of the southern Haitian city of Les Cayes. Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Jeannette Pierre-Louis took them in, taught Josephine how to read and write, provided her with a practical job skill and supplied food to her and her children. A total of 100 women and their 552 children currently frequent the Sisters' Notre Dame Family Education Center.
"After-School" Program May Be Only School for Some
Hundreds of young children live in 'La Savane' slum. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are working to provide an education for them.
In Haiti, parents must pay a fee to enroll their children in school. For families living in slums without the means to buy school shoes, to save money for school fees is nearly impossible.
The Notre Dame Education Center provides "after school" programs for children like Josephine's, whether those children attend regular school, or not.
Notre Dame Education Center's free "after-school" program may be the only schooling some children in Les Cayes' largest slum will ever receive.
The Power of Knowing Your Own Name    
Families transport their allotted food sacks from Notre Dame Family Education Center through 'La Savane' slum.
Rice and other food supplies are distributed on a regular basis to women who participate in Notre Dame Family Education Center's educational programs.  
"I think you have my sack," said a woman named Rose to another woman standing in line.
"How do you know?" asked the other.
"That's my name there -- written on the sack."
The other women waiting to collect their food sacks began to clap.
"Yes, I can read now," Rose beamed. "I know my own name."
Thanks to basic adult education classes provided by the Notre Dame Family Education Center, impoverished Haitian women are being empowered to claim what is rightfully theirs.
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