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October 2013

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In This Issue
An Improvised Classrom
Barefoot in Bulawayo
A Child's Place
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An Improvised Classroom

Across the globe, our Sisters are working with impoverished communities to help them understand how critical it is for children to be educated.
In Nkayi, Zimbabwe, approximately 100 miles northeast of Bulawayo, our Sisters are making headway. Recently, the community repaired an old hut (above) in an attempt to turn it into a suitable classroom nearer to rural children.  When the logistics of attaining an education are overwhelmingly difficult, when families do not encourage learning, when children are expected to work rather than study, the cycle of poverty is difficult to break.
Barefoot in Bulawayo
Lacking shoes, many children walk barefoot for long distances to attend school. 
On the outskirts of Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, children arrive at school  hungry, thirsty and tired. When, that is, they arrive at all. Some walk as long as 10 miles one way. But a typical "commute" is more like five or six miles -- across long, lonely terrain. It is no wonder that school attendance is spotty, or that students have trouble concentrating once they do arrive.
"Some children leave home as early as 5:30 a.m. to be on time for classes, and then walk back home to arrive around 7 p.m," writes one of our Sisters working in the school. By then, there is no time to review lessons or do homework. Once home, girls must walk additional distances to fetch fresh water and prepare supper. Boys must round up the family's herds to ensure that the animals are safe for the night.
A Child's Place
"...and a little child shall lead them."
In impoverished Zimbabwe, little children are expected to contribute to the survival of the family and be of service to their elders. This often means that siblings share responsibilities. They also take turns attending school. Learning is considered secondary to guiding a blind grandfather around the village or tending the family's cattle. In this photo, a pre-schooler is in charge of her grandfather for the day while her older brother, a student in the fifth grade, attends classes. In rural Zimbabwe society, females are considered the property of men and treated as second-class citizens. This little girl has a long up-hill climb to take her place in a classroom and fight inequality.  
Sisters Combating Poverty for More Than 100 Years

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have been ministering in Zimbabwe since 1899. Much of our work in the region focuses on educating girls and young women, since females are overtly discriminated against even by members of their own family. Our congregational mission and vision has always been to stand with and educate impoverished children -- no matter their gender.
With a Grateful Heart,
Sister Leonore Coan
Director of Mission Support