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February 2013

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In This Issue
Lighting the Way
Sunflower Power
Not Just About the Money
Quick Links
Lighting the Way
A woman in South Africa with her homemade candles that are produced and packaged for sale with the help of Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. 

The same concept of financial empowerment for women in our Nigerian ministries is in full swing in South Africa. Impoverished women who have inherited the legacy of Apartheid are learning how to be wage earners and invest in their once officially divided communities. A micro candle-making or sewing business in an indigent community can make a real difference to a woman's self-esteem, her family's financial health and community well-being. That's why the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are dedicated to educating and supporting impoverished women around the globe.  
Sunflower Power in Nigeria
Women gather at a Notre Dame mission in Nigeria to learn about micro loans.
The Sunflower Women Self-Help Association is a long name for a simple concept: when financial backing is extended to impoverished women, creative productivity will result. In Nigeria, that is precisely what is happening. Since 2002, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have been granting micro loans to indigent rural women, helping them to launch small businesses. These efforts have spawned modest economic development in rural regions as well as an increased sense of dignity and self-worth among the women.
"The loans are minimal," said Sister Leonore Coan, Director of Mission Support. "But in Nigeria that's enough to launch a micro business."
Home-based businesses established with the help of these micro-loans include cooking, cleaning or indigenous arts and crafts enterprises in addition to sewing and laundry ventures. 
It's Not Just About the Money
In Nigeria, babies accompany their mothers everywhere. They even attend the Sisters' classes for their mothers that focus on strategic business planning and financial management.
Before Sisters award micro loans, they educate the Nigerian women about global and local issues that affect the women's well-being. Sisters conduct classes on  health issues, climate change, gender inequality, domestic abuse and sexual violence. Helping women to name the array of problems that beset them and their children is the first step to finding solutions and circumventing problems. The goal of the Sunflower Women Self-Help Association is to empower impoverished women to improve their personal health, nutrition, sanitation and education, as well as that of their families. That's why the Sisters provide the women with a rudimentary education and methods for successful small business management. Helping these women to achieve success and a more healthful standard of living is at the root of the Sisters' efforts.   
A woman in South Africa learns to sew in order to support herself and her four children.
We are stronger when we stand together...

Since our Congregation's founding in 1804, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have provided educational and financial opportunities for impoverished women. Working in consultation and collaboration with these women is a hallmark of our mission. We know we can count on you to support our efforts.

With a Grateful Heart,

Sister Leonore Coan
Director of Mission Support