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Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Work Against All Odds
In Zimbabwe, as in other impoverished nations, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur use every available resource to reach across cultural divides. Educating children – girls and boys – is the number one priority for the international Congregation.
“We see young women migrating into urban areas where they become victims of abuse and exploitation by men, who exchange money for sex with the girls,” writes Sister Meltah Thaka from Zimbabwe. “The girls use the money for food, school fees and fashionable clothing.”
It is disturbing for our Sisters to watch young women be complicit in their own exploitation. The Sisters are especially concerned about the young women’s exposure to HIV/AIDS – often a death sentence in impoverished communities with inadequate health care. In response to these devastating trends, Sisters transformed one of their convents in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, into a residence for girls who have dropped out of high school. In doing so, they are providing these girls a future with dignity.
According to Sister Meltah, many of the young women are struggling with emotional trauma. Dysfunctional families, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of men – often from within their own families – hunger and deprivation, all contribute to the challenges facing these young women. At the residence in Bulawayo, our Sisters continuously assess a student’s progress. Sometimes, adjustments are necessary. A young woman may need to transfer from an academic program of study to one that focuses on practical skills such as sewing and farming. The focal point is always what is best for the growth and development of a young woman.
“It is a joy to see timid young women growing and being able to express themselves freely,” writes Sister Meltah. “These girls are benefitting from a solid education for life. Hopefully, they will make a difference and become vital members of their communities.”
To read more about the challenges young children face in trying to gain an education in rural Zimbabwe, read our latest 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: http://www.sndden.org.