Sisters (L to R) Sisters Augustina Onyebuchi, Ijeoma Uwakwe and Theresa Falola rejoice as Sr. Bernadette Okoligan, Head of Cookery and Baking Department presents a free oven to Deborah for her work.
Sr. Priscilla Aliu, SNDdeN, Director of Communications, Nigeria Province
In 2020, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) in the Nigeria Province established Notre Dame Vocational Institute (NDVI) in order to help young people, and other persons living in poverty to learn entrepreneurial skills for self-sustainability. From direct experiences and daily knowledge, we understand entrepreneurship as a viable tool for helping people to survive currently. As educators, we are called in these critical times to help people to grow their economy, fulfill their goals and meet the numerous economic challenges in our globe today.
We opened NDVI in Edo State, because it is a red zone for human trafficking, especially of young girls. The presence of our Institute in Jattu is our SNDdeN way of providing an alternative means to save and protect the lives of these girls and train those who are willing to develop their skills locally. We hope that our Institute will help curb the unnecessary exits of young people, leaving their towns and families in search of greener pastures. Many young women become a prey in the hands of human traffickers. Notre Dame Vocational Institute has attractive incentives for registered students and those who graduate from the Institution. They enjoy 50% discount in school fees; those who are too poor to pay even the discounted fees are financially sponsored to enable them in completing their programme. The biggest benefit is that NDVI gives start-up equipment to graduating students who need to start out right after they finish learning the skills. The first set of students who graduated on December 10, 2021 received one sewing machine and two local ovens for their start up as entrepreneurs.
Sisters Augustina Onyebuchi, Ijeoma Uwakwe and Theresa Falola congratulate a graduating student, Grace, as she receives a free sewing machine for her work.
The Institute has the sewing, cookery, baking and knitting departments. Sr. Ijeoma Uwakwe, SNDdeN, Administrator of the Institute, is encouraged by the progress and success of the school and its faculty and students in three departments.
Sewing: Sr. Augustina Onyebuchi, SNDdeN who is the Departmental Head works with one of our young Sisters, Sr. Theresa Falola, SNDdeN. Both Sisters are professional seamstresses. Sr. Augustina is thrilled to teach students the basic and professional ways and methods of dressing, using pattern drafting, standard fashion techniques and professional design for creating their own styles and patterns.
Sr. Theresa Falola does a fabric measurement session with her students.
Cookery & Baking: Sr. Bernadette Okoligan, SNDdeN heads this Department. The students have the option to do one or both courses. She begins her teaching with theories to help students understand food, its sources and values before moving into practical applications. Her hope is that her students will be successful after graduation as assistants in food and baking establishments.
Knitting Department: Sr. Ngozi Duru, SNDdeN heads the Knitting Department. She teaches students how to knit and to supply sweaters to some of our schools. She makes her product available also for sales. NDVI incorporates other skills in their training, according to St. Julie Billiart’s philosophy: “Teach whatever is necessary to equip the student for life.” Computer literacy, English language, workshops on personality types, education on the life-story of St. Julie, Notre Dame Spirituality, daily prayers and celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy during the opening and closing of each academic term are included.
Funding and Outreach
As Administrator, Sr. Ijeoma Uwakwe facilitates publicity about NDVI in the various parishes. Since the school is not self- sustaining, she writes grants for sponsorship support. She requests funding from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur through a Ministry Grant Fund provided by our Congregation through the nancial support from generous donors internationally. In an extended outreach, NDVI provides hospitality to surrounding neighbors by giving them water once a week from the Institute’s borehole.
Deborah receives her certicate from Sr. Ijeoma Uwakwe, NDVI Director.
We encourage our Sisters to develop useful skills. One of our expatriate Sisters, Sr. Julie Ambrose, SNDdeN at age 83 makes her own dresses and is able to train others. The plan of our Province Leadership Team in Nigeria is making skill acquisition part our Formation Program for newer members. is will enable the continuation of more practical programs in our schools and educational institutions.
Our wider vision is to extend our services to other parts of Nigeria especially where we live and serve in other ministries. We have a plan to target in different zones other audiences in encouraging them to learn the skills they need to establish their own businesses for self-sustainability. We hope to extend our efforts against human trafficking in Nigeria.