Food Security Crucial for Student Success, Say Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur teach persistently hungry and malnourished children. A plan is underway to increase food production in the region in order to improve the diet and health of their students.
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Aug. 2, 2012 - PRLog -- Ipswich, Mass. -- Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in classrooms across the globe quickly recognize the signs of persistent hunger in their students: sunken eyes, listless energy, limited attention span, slow responses.
“Hungry children cannot learn,” said  Sister Leonore Coan, director of Mission Support for the Congregation. “And, because they are malnourished, they are alarmingly susceptible to illness and infection.”
No matter where they serve, the Sisters make it a priority to improve public health through sustainable solutions. One of these solutions in the Democratic Republic of Congo is to make Congregation-owned land available to private farmers.  Currently, the Sisters are able to cultivate only one-quarter of their farm.
“The manpower is there,” said Sister Leonore. “The necessary tools and equipment are not. We can’t help increase food production without tools.”
All of which is why the Sisters are once again partnering with the Massachusetts-based nonprofit, the International Medical Equipment Collaborative (IMEC). The Collaborative, which distributes farming tools as well as medical equipment to impoverished communities around the globe, is in the process of gathering hoes, shovels, irrigation system equipment and other tools for the Congolese Sisters. Last October, the Congregation partnered with IMEC and United Parcel Service in order to ship 40 shrink-wrapped “suites” of brand new farming tools to the Sisters’ schools in an impoverished area of northern Peru.
Throughout Africa and Latin America, the Sisters make it a practice to work in the fields alongside people with whom they live and serve.
“We cannot ask people to plant if they do not see us planting,” said Sister Therese Divavu, who helps oversee the Sisters’ farmlands in Congo.  
According to Sister Therese, even Sisters who are highly trained as doctors and nurses spend one day a week outside the clinic to work in the fields. The goal of the Sisters is to increase irrigation and fertilization efficiency as well as crop variety. The manioc plant, a starch indigenous to the tropics, is the mainstay of the peoples’ meager diet in Congo.
For more information about how the Sisters plan to help increase food production in the Democratic Republic of Congo, please visit:

Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are an international Congregation of women religious, founded by St. Julie Billiart (1751-1816) in Amiens, France in 1804.  The Congregation is committed to making known God’s goodness through education in a variety of ministries. Sisters serve on five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, and work to change lives by a “fundamental commitment to stand with our sisters and brothers who live in poverty and accompany them in their struggle.” Offices/centers are located in Rome, ITALY, Namur, BELGIUM and Ipswich, MA, USA.  Visit our web site at:
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