S O C I A L O U T R E AC H
Sr. Susan feeding chickens with learners in the SND outreach programme.
By Sister Susan Libendi, SNDdeN, Coordinator of Social Outreach Programme
As Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), we respond to specific needs in our time. We believe that God expects the best from us, and inspires us to reach out to our brothers and sisters. We are inspired by St. Julie who insisted that we “exist for the poor, absolutely for the poor.” She called us to make known God’s goodness and love with and among people living in poverty. My ministry contributes to this SNDdeN Mission for many vulnerable families. Parents desire education for their children, but most are unable and trapped in the poverty web. They face the limitations of economic, social, spiritual and psychological challenges, on a daily basis.
Education transforms lives and enables people to participate in decisions that affect their lives. The government of Kenya aims theoretically at providing free primary education; that is not the case on the ground. Private and faith-based schools like NDEC attempt to reach out to marginalized and less privileged pupils by ensuring that they get basic education in a conducive environment for best achievement. Most learners on scholarship are partial or total orphans. In the present economic situation, our Social Outreach Programme, addresses various needs of the community and the most vulnerable in the Malava area. We aim is to visit households, gather information, initiate economic activities for parents’ self-reliance to provide new income, to help families receiving financial assistance, and to familiarise ourselves with local communities.
We engage children and parents in activities generating some minimal income for their households. When our families meet to share their struggles, we help them and the surrounding community to find hope in different processes of healing. In collaboration with our postulants, I visit families to experience their reality of life. By interacting within these households, without any pre-conceived judgements, I live the call and Mission of Jesus Christ. I listen, learn, and allow myself to be transformed by my brothers and sisters, made vulnerable by the circumstances of life. In partnership with other service providers, I organise workshops for parents facing critical times to give them opportunities for finding creative solutions and practical ways for becoming self-reliant.
Sr. Susan Libendi visits the parents of students at home.
Spending time with children from these households, I observe their self-esteem and confidence re-awakened as I teach them what they need to know for life. During the holidays, I follow up on school attendance and progress of our children, to strengthen the bonds between the children and parents at home in their own environment. Parents and children experience the transformation that education brings to individuals and society. As a private Catholic school, without any government subsidy, NDEC relies on school fees, a major sources of income to meet expenses in our school. Through funds received from donors, our Congregational Leadership Team supports our Mission with small grants for scholarships for needy children and for small income generating activities for their families.
We have begun a chicken project in which parents and children raise chickens, sell the eggs and provide a small income, important for struggling families. The goals are to empower families in becoming self-sustaining, to give them confidence in taking charge of their own lives and to participate in decisions which affect them. This project enables parents to pay school fees as well as to manage their own households. In December 2019, we conducted with our parents a workshop to raise awareness in educating our pupils for life. The participants discussed issues of concern for young people and ways of working with them to ensure a brighter future. The event aimed at revitalizing efforts by the parents and guardians in accompanying their children in education. They discussed ways to become self-sustaining and to take charge of their own lives.