How School Sisters of Notre Dame inspired me 

The voice of the psalmist keeps resounding in my mind: how can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me? 
Psalm 115

Bernadette
Bernadette F. Mendy
By Bernadette F. Mendy

One of the most inspiring experiences I had while growing up was my encounter with the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), whose convent is located at Mary Mother of God Parish, Jarra Soma. They were from different countries across Europe, America and Africa. They ran a school called Notre Dame School, which is well known for delivering quality education to the people of Soma and its environs. The sisters were also involved in the pastoral life of the church, especially taking care of the missionary childhood association, by teaching them catechesis, uplifting their moral, ethical, and spiritual life. They also helped many needy children and families within the Soma community, by paying their school fees and encouraged them to be serious with life.  I am a living testimony to this fact. I am a proud beneficiary of the kindness and generosity of SSND.

Whilst with the sisters as a member of the missionary childhood association in the church, they taught us many things through their prayers, sacrifices and love. The sisters helped us to understand the meaning of prayer, how to pray and the impact of prayer in our lives as missionary children. As a child, I learnt that prayer means communicating with God.  This special grace we received from God through the sisters helped us a lot in our spiritual growth and development.

Sisters in Makeni Community

My special memory goes back to Sister Fidelis whose encouragement motivated me to love schooling. She taught me with so much love at St. Michael's Nursery School in Jarra Soma. She always organized evening study classes for us freely. This gave me a strong background and foundation as a child, most especially in Mathematics and Christian Religious Education.  I remember going to the convent on many occasions during the break for breakfast. I often came to school without breakfast because my parents could not afford it.

Moreover, other sisters, including, Sisters Dorothy and Lucy, helped me so much with the English language. They taught me how to listen, speak, write, and read. This enabled me to score the highest grade A1, in The Gambian Basic Education Certificate Examination (GABECE). Honestly, all the SSNDs whose names are mentioned and not mentioned, were holistically instrumental in our upbringing educationally, spiritually, morally, and even our personal development as children.

What amazed me most was the good heart and the generosity of the sisters who sacrificed genuinely their time, energy, and resources to help the poor and needy. This same legacy of love, compassion, care, and kindness continue today with the sisters in The Gambia area currently.

Till date, my family and I are beneficiaries of the loving kindness of these amazing, wonderful and extraordinary sisters.   I sincerely thank and appreciate God for their lives.

Sisters in Makeni Community
Bernadette the Medical Student.

In addition to their love and care, the sisters constant encouragement and insightful advice guided me throughout my educational career.  I am humbled to say that with the help of God and their hardwork, today, I am a fourth-year medical student at the University of The Gambia.

The sisters are always available when I need their help and services. They have indeed played a motherly role in my life. Finally, I sincerely thank and appreciate both past and present SSNDs who worked in The Gambia and those that I am yet to meet for their amazing contributions in my life to grow and develop from teenage stage to adulthood. Indeed, all of you have been a great blessing and gift in my life. You are the best! You have inspired and motivated me. I love you all and may the good Lord bless and keep you safe. Amen.

PMB Achimota School Post Office, Accra, Ghana, Africa
320 East Ripa Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63125, USA

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