School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education


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Ministry as a Tool of Transformation

Novice Joy Monica Abado reflects on her weekly ministry:

Novice Joy Monica Abado in the village.

Novice Joy Monica Abado in the village.

Two other novices and I minister at Odumasi Parish every Friday. We go mainly to the tiniest villages about twenty five kilometers from the parish. We engage in different activities such as teaching catechism, recollection services, playing with the children and visiting the Christians in their homes. It is always a time to be with God’s people and sharing and receiving the love of God together.

I always find the times for culture exchange a time of transformation and a sign of unity in diversity with the people. They do appreciate the similarity of all African cultures and realize that the differences are very minimal. This is usually followed by the emphasis on all humankind being in union with God. “We are all children of God and belong to one family.” This fosters the people’s trust in us and their openness to share. We also share about our well being. During such moments I am always touched by the openness and readiness of these people to share both their blessings and their struggle.

They especially trust our prayers for the sick members of their families. We lay our hands on them and pray for God’s healing upon them. Through the prayers, they strongly believe that their intentions and struggles are cared for by God. This is a sign of a deep rooted faith in God. As we depart from their homes, they remain happy people trusting in God’s providence.

In visitations we also identify with the neediest people such as the old, the physically challenged, and those who cannot practice farming to provide for their needs. Here in the village the main source of income is farming. They practice communal farming, sell some of the produce and use other farm products for family consumption. Therefore those who are not able to practice farming due to their physical status, feel hopeless and incapable of providing for their needs. Some also feel lonely and rejected as most of the time they are left home alone. Our presence is always a real blessing in their lives.

I also feel blessed in the gentle conversation with the old who are sources of treasure in the African societies. We pray with them and encourage them in their situations..

Despite the blessings, there have been times of challenge which have called me to transformation. I take the risk to go into unknown homes and am open to meet strangers. Sometimes we are rejected. Once they see us they turn away or just tell us that they are busy. Inability to communicate directly with the people has called me to be patient in my sharing with the people and to trust that whatever I share is translated correctly. In my ongoing discernment, ministry experience has been very significant. I have grown to be more open and flexible to the direction of the Spirit as I pursue God’s mission.

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A Home of Smiles and New Life

The Novices of the School Sisters of Notre Dame all have some apostolic work that they do part time as they learn about religious life and what it means for them to be a School Sister. Novice Esther Alaam shares a reflection on her experience of ministry.

Saturdays are days I always look forward to. These days I spend my whole day with the orphan children at Hanukkah. We play games, teach each other songs and I read Bible stories to them. These children energize me, strengthen my faith in the Lord, and I find it a privilege to be with them. Hanukkah Children’s Home was established in Sunyani in the middle belt of Ghana.

Mariette, Moses and Novice Esther

Mariette, Moses and Novice Esther

 

In 2006 a Dutch woman and her Ghanaian husband, Mariette and Moses, had a dream to help the poor, the neglected, and people with disabilities in Ghana. They saw that many children were homeless and some had lost their parents in sickness or accidents. They were emotionally moved by this situation and decided to help these needy children.

The home started with 26 children but presently there are 47 children ranging from three months to sixteen years old who are happily living with them. They care for these children like their own. Apart from the young ones, all of the children are sent to school. Every week I see each child’s dignity being respected. They always look very neat and well cared for.
What amazes me most is the way Mariette and Moses spend their time with the children. They are with them the whole day making sure each child’s needs are met and they are healthy and have enough to eat. Those with physical and or mental disabilities have home tuition by volunteers from Holland.

When I look at the faces of these children every Saturday, I see the love that Mariette and Moses have shared with them. They also teach them how to love, and I see it in the way the children care for one another. Nothing moves me more than seeing the bigger children helping the younger ones to eat, wash and do assignments. They even carry the little ones on their backs.

Children at Hanukkah Children's Home

Children at Hanukkah Children’s Home

I have seen the result of the efforts this couple makes to trace relatives of the children and to reconnect them with their families. They reunite them when the child is grown enough to make a decision whether he/she want to remain with them or move to be with their families. Many times they choose to stay which shows that they are at home in Hanukkah.
I see Mariette and Moses as models in our society today. They have taught me how to live and how to share what God has given me. They inspire me to share my time, love and hope with the forgotten, the excluded, and the vulnerable in the society. The response I get when I greet the children and ask how they are is what carries me home fully energized every week. “I am blessed and highly favoured.’’ They teach me to be content with the little I have.
Through the generosity of the family and friends of Mariette, the children can soon attend their own school called “Circle of Life.’’ The children are so excited and very happy.

The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life

The school, which opens in September, 2014, is going to help these poor orphans and also other children from the community. Mariette and Moses have brought smiles, life and joy into the hearts of these children.
Hanukkah Children’s Home has opened my heart and mind to see that it takes only two people to bring change and dignity into children’s lives. It takes self- emptying love and true dedication to nurture life.
My time with the children has been blessed and grace-filled. I have learned about myself and the realities of our world. God bless you, Moses and Mariette.