Sept. 10, 2012
-- The problem in the remote, northern region of Peru is not that the Piura River floods. The problem is that it floods every year, repeatedly destroying the massive hand-hewn log bridge that connects children to schools and adults to markets. It takes months for the bridge to be rebuilt by hand, yet the people rebuild it every year. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who live and teach in the region are struggling with the problem of how to provide an education to children living in inaccessible villages on the remote side of the river.
The Sisters have recently assumed the administration of a network of comprehensive schools in Malingas, Peru. Some of the schools are one-room structures. Some are outfitted with outdoor classrooms. Others are in mountains accessible only by donkey. A few are located in urban areas. Known as the Fe y Alegría (“Faith & Happiness”) Schools, the network’s curriculum is designed to help impoverished children contribute to their local community and connect them and their families with mainstream society. Teaching marginalized children is a top priority for the Sisters.
“We overcome obstacles every day in our work around the world,” said Sister Leonore Coan, director of the Congregation’
s Mission Support Office. “We do everything we can to reach out to children living in isolation in order to provide them with an education.”
Reaching isolated children on the opposite side of a raging river is one of the Sisters’ biggest challenges to date. Transportation in the region is unreliable. There is no government-provided infrastructure. No real roads. No railway network. No official and reliable bridge construction. To help alleviate transportation issues and encourage older students to stay in school, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur include a bicycle program in the secondary school. Each student is eligible to enroll in the program and secure a bike for the lengthy commute to the secondary school from their far-flung villages. At graduation, the bicycle then becomes the property of the student. For the most part, the student’s bicycle is the only means of transportation available to his or her family – and the only mode of transport suited to ride the region’s dirt paths and roadways.
For more information about the Sisters’ work in northern Peru, visit http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs020/1103923442549/ar...
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: http://www.sndden.org