SNDdeN Photovoltaic Project Provides Energy for Health Care

Feb 22, 2024 | News & Events

SNDdeN Photovoltaic Project Provides Energy for Health Care

By Sr. Marie-Madeleine Ngawene


Sr. Marie-Madeleine Ngawene tries to ease the pain as she gives the child an injection.

The Photovoltaic Project of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN) reaches far-away, rural places with energy and provides electricity and water for hospital care. The Referral Health Center in Notre Dame Parish in Pelende, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is only one of these small villages where more services for health care have happened for the people. Located in the Diocese of Popokabaka, this Center began as a State emergency First-Aid Center, opened by the SNDdeN Congregation in 1956. About 67 years ago, this Center, in the health zone of Wamba Luadi, at a great distance from any hospitals for the people in Pelende, was too far away to reach a hospital in medical emergencies.

Sr. Marie de la Croix, an SNDdeN from the Belgium Province opened the First-Aid Center as the first Director and served from 1956 until 1960. Sr. Helen Casci, another Belgian SNDdeN replaced Sr. Marie as the Director and served until 1968. Since then, our Congolese Sisters have directed and managed this health care facility. Sr. Marie-Madeleine Ngawene, SNDdeN is currently the Director of this Referral Health Center. She has been able to expand services at the Center with electricity and water provided by the SNDdeN Photovoltaic Project.

With the creation of rural health zones, this First-Aid Center has undergone an evolution in health care. It became a dispensary and then a maternity clinic/hospital. As a Health Center, this facility serves a large population of nearly 9,285 people, spread out in 7 villages who were unable formerly to reach hospitals on time. Distances to hospitals from these villages resulted often in home deliveries of babies, the deaths of mothers and their infants, as well as other sick and elderly persons. The entire population of the area now finds health care at this Center in Pelende…with electricity, light and water.

Doctor Sawamina Mu Yesu Julien helps a patient get comfortable after surgery.

The population has somewhat diminished in these villages. The disastrous roads, especially during the rainy season prevent vehicles from traveling in the region and as a result, the people cannot sell the surplus of their farm produce. This means that the farming activity of this population does not provide enough money to access health care. In the light of the needs of the population and the demand for more SNDdeN in the region, since 2021, the Diocese of Popokabaka with the Minister of health, have provided an attending physician, Doctor Swamina Mu Yesu Julien. He works with Sr. Marie-Madeleine Ngawene who directs and manages the Referral Health Center.

The Referral Health Center in Pelende has set the following objectives:

  • To provide quality health care to the population
  • To reduce maternal and infant mortality
  • To promote preventative, curative and motivational activities while educating the population

For quality care, the Center organizes the following services:

  • Consultation
  • Laboratory
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity care
  • Preschool and promotional consultation

With the arrival of the Physician, three other services have been added:

  • Consultation with Physician
  • An Operating Room
  • Hospitalization and Surgeries

All services have the goal of contributing to improvement of the quality health care for the sick in this region. The Sisters make known God’s goodness in bringing energy and light to people through the Photovoltaic Project.

Download our Good Works, Volume 19 No. 2 – October 2023, pp. 18-19.