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July 2013

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In This Issue
In Search of Food
On Their Own
But Not Alone
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In Search of Food
A Congolese Sister helps two small orphans harvest vegetables from the Sisters' garden.
Disease and poor nutrition in the Congo contribute to the high mortality rate of women during childbirth. In just nine villages alone, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have assumed responsibility for more than 50 abandoned children. It is an enormous challenge for our Sisters to care for, feed and educate so many. Even when Sisters locate extended family members to take in the orphaned children, our Sisters provide the family with food for those children as well as their school fees. Sisters carefully monitor the placement of the orphaned children they sheltered as infants.
On Their Own...
A Sister of Notre Dame de Namur tends to twins orphaned at birth in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have been caring for orphans since our foundress Julie Billiart rescued abandoned street children at the close of the French Revolution. Today, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, our Sisters shelter, feed, care for and protect orphans.The first five years of life are perilous for any impoverished child, but they are especially so for impoverished Congolese children. Just five years ago, underweight Congolese infants -- especially premature twins -- died at birth. Because of electricity generated by our African Photovoltaic Project, incubators are becoming standard medical equipment at our mission clinics and hospitals. Access to improved health care and equipment creates a supporting environment for the care of children. Please support our efforts.   
But Not Alone
Our Sisters teach orphaned children that joy is an integral part of God's universe and that there is love enough for all.
At our Congolese missions, older orphans help care for smaller children. All the children -- even those as young as three or four -- participate in the never-ending challenge of procuring food. In the Congo, if a child does not work, that child does not eat. It's as stark and dire as that. In the harsh climate and collapsed economy of the Congo, older children work in the fields and gardens, while the younger ones mostly prepare juice to sell in exchange for food. Our Sisters teach the children how to take charge of their lives and become creative, resilient members of society.
The Harsh Reality of Poverty
It is difficult to grasp that three-year-olds must work for food. On one of my trips to the Congo, I watched toddlers head off into fields to pick corn. Even after decades of witnessing the harsh realities of impoverished people all over the world, I am still taken aback when I remember this scene. Orphans and abandoned street children are especially vulnerable. Without our Sisters, whom many orphans call "Mama," hundreds of children would be languishing in filthy streets. They would be vulnerable to the whims and wishes of men and women who look on them with lust and greed. Children want, need and deserve adults who care.
Sister Leonore Coan
Director of Mission Support