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September 2011

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In This Issue
Language and Literacy for All
Reducing Poverty One Word at a Time
A Flour Sack as a Teaching Tool
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Language and Literacy For All
 Nselo Student

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it's French. In the United States, it's English. Knowing the common language of a country is crucial. This young Congolese woman learns French as part of the curriculum at the Sisters' adult learning center in Nselo, Congo. In a country with 700 local languages and dialects, girls who are denied schooling, and grow up without learning French, cannot barter in the marketplace or participate in the larger society. Without the support of the Sisters' adult learning center, young Congolese women would struggle even more than they already do to support themselves and their families. What do the Sisters teach these young women? 

Teaching the Young Women of Nselo, Congo
Teaching the Young Women of Nselo, Congo
Daily Life in Nselo
The Sisters in Nselo collect rain water in a large cistern and must boil it before using it. Their compound, where the adult learning center is located, lacks indoor plumbing and electricity. Each student is assigned a bright blue plastic bucket for her fresh water supply. And each student learns sewing skills on a hand-operated sewing machine.   
Two Learning Centers, One Task 
"Teach them what they need to know for life..."
 -- St. Julie Billiart, Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur  
Across five continents in 17 countries, thousands of adult students enroll in learning centers operated by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Some students, like the young women of Nselo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa, are excited about wearing a school uniform for the very first time in their lives and learning how to sew.
Others, like students at Notre Dame Learning Center in Lawrence, Mass., USA, are grateful for the opportunity to learn how to navigate a computer and master nursing assistant skills.
Each adult learning center operated by the Sisters is constructed with an eye toward practical needs as well as cultural sensitivity. Your support always makes a difference -- no matter the country, no matter the culture.
Reducing Poverty One Word at a Time  classroom learning ND Ed Center
Teaching English to immigrants is a top priority of the Sisters and staff at Notre Dame Education Center in  Lawrence, Mass. Currently, one-third of the city's population is foreign born and living
below the poverty level. The Sisters are aware that poverty is a complex issue intertwined with many social factors, one of which is low literacy levels. Notre Dame Education Center provides education, job skills training, enrichment opportunities and support services as well as vital language and literacy development for a predominantly Spanish-speaking community. 
Making the Most of Opportunity
young woman with computerIn addition to the certified nursing assistant program and citizenship classes offered at Notre Dame Education Center in Lawrence, Mass., students may enroll in computer courses as well as a computer-generated GED high school equivalency course of study.

Using What's On Hand
Embroidered flour bagIn the remote missions of Congo, the Sisters and their students use whatever is available for learning tools. Discarded cassava flour sacks serve as practice material for embroidery students, who hope to earn a living as seamstresses and artisans. 


Two Wise Women
St. Julie Billiart was a visionary. Shortly after founding the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1804, she  established schools to educate impoverished children. Although she envisioned good works as the primary purpose for her fledgling congregation, she lacked the personal finances to make her vision a reality.
Where would the money come from for the Sisters' daily meals? How would the Sisters keep their students warm and safe? Children can't learn when they are hungry. Would the Sisters be able to feed their students as well as teach them? Who would pay for their teaching materials?
Enter the wealthy aristocrat, Françoise Blin de Bourdon. Although she renounced her family's property to join the Sisters, Françoise retained enough wealth to be influential and resourceful. She knew that when you ask good people to support good work, the way will unfold. It has been unfolding for the past 207 years. Come join us. Become part of the legacy of these two wise women.

In Peace and Gratitude,


Sister Leonore Coan
SNDdeN Congregational Mission Office

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