School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education

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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.




A Special Gift

Beatrice at the Orphanage

Beatrice at the Orphanage

Novice Beatrice Mwalimu writes of her ministry.

I minister in an orphanage; Hanukkah Children’s Home. The children are of different ages, schooling from kindergarten to Junior Secondary(freshman). A few among them are challenged both physically and mentally. The boy Lucas attracted me.

Lucas a small boy aged ten, is in Kindergarten. He is physically challenged by paralyzed legs. He uses his two hands to move. He can move as fast as the rest of the young ones. The first time I went to Hanukkah, I was struck to see this boy crawling to reach us as others walked. I asked one of the boys to help, but he said, “Have no worry, he will come.” I was surprised to see him crawl to the small hut where we were.

At first he was resistant when I invited him to come and play with us. He later came and sat on the ground, under the bench, and he started playing with our legs. Watching him keenly I responded by moving my legs up and down and that is how we started communicating. First play, then talk. I was so happy to see him laugh when I yelled as he touched my legs. It was a motivation to him to play more. At some point he climbed on the bench and played with my hair. He told us the experiences of the school he attends. This boy can tell stories not only in words but in actions, too. He acted as the teacher and we became his students. He brought out all the characteristics of his teacher and he said the common words used in a school setup, for instance, “class, Keep quiet; behave like your brother; run to the assembly; spell the words correctly” and many more.


Beatrice and Lucas

Beatrice and Lucas

Lucas’ way of relating is unique. He invites a relationship using words such as, “leave me alone, I will not come to you; run before I catch you” and this leads us to play by chasing one another. Eventually we come together to sing songs he learns in church like “God loves me, oh yes he loves me.” We also share the bible verses and act the teacher-student game.

Lucas is jovial, intelligent, relational, and always lively. He does not feel less; he laughs and plays a lot. He is a disciplined boy and he feels proud to act as a teacher. Lucas is a gift to me. I am always filled with joy when I am with him. I also get inspired to thank God for Lucas’ special gifts which have given me another way of re-imaging God in every person.

Beatrice and friends

Beatrice and friends

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New Novices arrive at Sunyani, Ghana

On August 17, eleven young women arrived at the African Novitiate in Sunyani, Ghana to begin their time of intense discernment.  They will learn the spirit and charism of the Congregation and its history.  They will study the Constitution of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.  And they will grow in their own relationship with God and community.  Here is a short video of their arrival.  Please continue to pray for them in this special time.