School Sisters of Notre Dame – Africa

Transforming the World through Education


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Safety of our Sisters in Africa

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To our dear friends and partners in mission.,

While much of our world is impacted with health and safety issues, we know that some of you have expressed concern for SSND’s in Africa and the particular issues we face. Presently our seven Sisters who were working in Sierra Leone are now temporarily assigned to ministries in other countries with the great desire and hope to return to Sierra Leone when it is safe. We SSND’s in Africa continue to educate others on good practices to prevent the spread of Ebola.

The activities of the militant Islamic group, Boko Haram, are prevalent in the northern part of Nigeria; our SSND ministries are not in the north. At the same time, we know we have to take precautions for safety and to add to our educational efforts in building a peaceful society through our commitment to transformative education.
Thank you for your prayers and concern and most especially for the ways you support us in our ministries.

The Provincial Council,
Province of Africa

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Vocation Directors in Africa

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Here are the sisters to contact in each country in which we serve.

Ghana
Irene B Arthur irenebarthur@yahoo.com
Nigeria
Theodorah Ihiro  ihirotheodorah@yahoo.com
Janet Odey janetssnd@yahoo.com
Kenya
Magdalene Akpan magpoly84@yahoo.com
Mary Goretti Aboge mary_aboge@yahoo.com
The Gambia
Mary J Mendy mendy.mariej@yahoo.com
Sierra Leone
Eleanor Ewerts eleanorewerts@yahoo.com


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Ministry as a Psychosocial Counselor/Chaplain in Sierra Leone

Sister Mary Odondo writes of her ministry at Holy Spirit Hospital in Makeni, Sierra Leone:

In my ministry, I deal a lot with issues that affect people physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially and spiritually. One of the major problems that people from Sierra Leone are facing is the aftermath of trauma as a result of war. However some people are traumatized from all sorts of accidents for example from the road, electrical machines, snake bites, gunshots and burns but other people suffer from both terminal and non terminal diseases.

My work basically involves Pastoral Care, HIV Testing and Counseling, Trauma Counseling, Palliative Care, Grief and Loss Counseling and Health Education.   I use the integral counseling skills and techniques when caring for my patients including children and adolescents.  Sometimes I use psychotherapy to enable them deal with their traumas as well.   I also work together with the interdisciplinary team for successful interventions in patient care.

From my experience, when people are in pain, they need a listening heart and safe environment to find deeper meaning in their struggle.   From this kind of care, they are able to cope with their situations well. “I came so that they may have life to the fullest” (John 10:10). This scripture passage is an invitation that all humanity has to be treated with dignity and this helps to enable people recall any painful experiences with hope.   For example instead of regretting  about  the past ,  they can  begin to  find another way of living with their present situations,  instead of blaming  others , they can begin to find creative ways  of dealing with their issues, instead of being  perturbed  by their  terminal illnesses , they can begin to  find ways of alleviating their  pain.

I also encounter some challenges such as language barrier and unjust structure within the country which hinders effective service delivery. In the midst of all these challenges, I still strive to   bring    Christ love to the most vulnerable groups especially children, adolescents and women.

Sister Mary treating patient.

Sister Mary treating patient.

Sister Mary with patient

Sister Mary with patient

Patient with family member.

Patient with family member.

 


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Honoring All Saints

Sister Magdalene Umoh, SSND is a newly professed sister ministering in Lokomasama Secondary School, Sierra Leone.  She shares here her recent experience at the school.

The Feast of All Saints, celebrated on the first of November 2013 strengthened the bonds of communal worship amongst Christians and Muslims at Lokomasama Secondary School, Petifu Junction, Sierra Leone.  Sierra Leone is a country that is over 50% Muslim.  The celebration of the Holy Eucharist took place at the school hall with Father Samura, the school chaplain, as the presider.  Both Muslims and Christians on staff participated fully in this event, which was amazing.

Coincidentally, the feast of All Saints fell on a Friday, a prayer day for our Muslim bothers and sisters.  Yet, this did not interfere with the turnout but was rather impressive with the full collaboration of the students.

The pastor took time explaining to the congregation why the day is special and important for the Catholics, likening it to the African belief in the ancestors. The pastor shared in his reflection that saints were ordinary people whose life of holiness left legacies and imprints for others to follow through their work of goodness, charity, caring and loving services towards humanity and all of creation. He briefly outlined the processes of canonizing one to sainthood using the late pope John Paul II. He explained  all the miracles expected through the intercession of the deceased. This was very interesting and powerful as the non Catholics listened attentively with awe and wonder, some with curiosity and amazement expressed on their faces.

He concluded by inviting all to strive for holiness by embracing life’s reality with patience and complete trust in God. Also, he added that we are saints if we do what is expected of us by God with love as the driving force in the ordinary events and our encounter with others.The mass ended with the special blessing of the SS 4 (Senior Secondary 4th year) candidates who at this time are preparing to write the West African Senior Certificate Examination this coming March.  Personally, it was one of the most beautiful gatherings of sharing our faith, hope and love with courage and great hope and audacity because love cannot wait………….

SS$ student blessing

Senior Secondary 4 students stand for blessing

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Father Samura blesses students who are preparing for their West African Exams


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Sierra Leone – 40th Anniversary of SSND Presence

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of School Sisters of Notre Dame arriving in Sierra Leone, West Africa.  We continue to thank our God for the amazing experience of working with and for the people of Sierra Leone.  The first mission was in Yengema at Yengema Secondary School.  Until our arrival the school only had male students.  With the coming of the Sisters the girls section was opened.  Four sisters were sent.  They were Sister Inez Bocklage, Sister Andre Aubuchon, Sister Eileen Buseman and Sister Mary Louise Jacobi.

Sierra Leone is located on the West Coast of Africa.  The country ‘s northern border is the 10th parallel so it is a tropical country.  It is rich in natural resources.  Yengema is located in the diamond mine region of Sierra Leone.  Most of the time that was an advantage because there were better roads and more resources.  It was, however, one of the first places that was attacked during the war that began in 1992 because of the desire to control the diamond mines.

Sisters loved teaching at Yengema and being a part of the parish community there.  They were active with the CWA (Catholic Women’s Association) and the YCS (Young Catholic Students).  The Sisters learned much from those with whom they lived about what it means to live joyfully even amid meager circumstances.

Other missions were opened in Kabala, Port Loko and Mange Bureh.  Sisters had to leave Sierra Leone during the war for their own safety as well as for the safety of those around them.  So there were not always Sisters in Sierra Leone during these 40 years but we are happy that there are now 8 sisters in the country in two missions, Makeni and Lokomasama.  We hope to have pictures soon of the current communities!

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Sisters Andre, Inez, Eileen and Mary Louise

First girls at YSS

Sisters with the first girls at Yengema Secondary School


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Okada in Sierra Leone

One of the new phenomena in Sierra Leone when I visited last November were the “Okada” motorcycles that are used as public transportation everywhere. It is wild. This article talks about it but you need to watch the video at the bottom of the article. The song with the video “Walhalla de” loosly translated means “there is trouble.”
Salone Okada – The Patriotic Vanguard
Commentary By Phodei Ibrahim Sheriff, Houston, Texas, USA. For many of us who have observed the riders of the Sierra Leone version of Okadas (…)
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