Rotary International and Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Go Extra Mile for Disabled Student

Julia is not the only disabled student educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She is, however, the only disabled student to graduate from the Sisters’ recently created St. Peter Claver High School in Kroonstad, South Africa.
IPSWICH, Mass. - Sept. 30, 2013 - PRLog -- Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in South Africa are no strangers to adversity. Forced to close an 80-year-old school in a black township during Apartheid, the Congregation constructed temporary classroom pods in a nearby location. Forty-five years later, those pods are still being used as classrooms, as is the once shuttered and recently renovated original school building.

For a young woman named Julia, the Sisters’ tenacity in the face of setbacks helped her overcome her own unique set of circumstances. Born with a club foot and paralyzed by failed surgery to correct it 10 years later, Julia has been able to complete high school by her own wits, the physical strength of her teachers and classmates and the vision and determination of the Sisters. In fact, the high school curriculum was formed and classes launched only four years ago, partly due to requests from students like Julia whose opportunities for education beyond the lower grades were otherwise severely limited.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have had a continuous presence with the people of Kroonstad, South Africa, and its surrounding townships since 1907. St. Peter Claver School’s mission is “to create an educating community based on Gospel values…and to provide a curriculum that supports the physical, intellectual, spiritual, moral and social development of each member of the school community.”

Despite Julia’s physical limitations, St. Peter Claver’s administrators insisted that she remain a student at the school following her failed surgery. This grew increasingly problematic, as the St. Peter Claver Secondary School building then lacked an elevator and was not equipped to meet the needs of disabled students. None of this, however, prevented Julia from graduating in June of this year.

“Julia’s classmates and teachers would never hear of her being left behind or sidelined,” said Sister Bridget Rose of St. Peter Claver School. “Even when they all went on a fieldtrip to nearby archeological caves. As amazing as it sounds, Julia went, too.”

To read how Julia’s friends and classmates worked with Rotary International to secure her a motorized wheelchair during her last year of high school, read our September 2013 e-newsletter:

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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