|Sacred Heart student (photo from flickr @rscj.org)|
Today I read a twitter post by @FLOTUS, First Lady Michelle Obama that was featured in the Financial Times entitled "Throw the school gates open to girls everywhere". The article is about partnerships that will remove barriers to education, stating that this week Mrs. Obama will meet with Prime Minister David Cameron in London and afterwards "announce a series of new partnerships between the US and UK to educate adolescent girls in developing countries around the world".
A program recently introduced in America is called Let Girls Learn which includes volunteers from the US Peace Corps to help communities in developing countries create solutions that will empower young girls to become future leaders. Mrs. Obama states, "Our new partnerships build on these efforts, bringing new focus to reach even more adolescent girls across the globe. Among them is an effort of up to $180m over five years in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which will benefit more than 750,000 girls."
Knowing that Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat had opened schools all over the world and that the Congo was one of the 44 countries where the Society has a presence, I decided to do a little research to learn more about the schools in the Congo that the Society of the Sacred Heart had opened. I also recalled that Sr. Mary Frohlich, RSCJ who lives near me in Chicago and is an Associate Professor of Spirituality at Catholic Theological Union had been to the Congo a few years ago. I found two wonderful articles written by Sr. Frohlich that describe her five-month international experience living in community with her Congolese sisters; "Sorrow and Hope in the Congo" (CTU November 2011) and "Spirituality: Serving the Children of the Congo" ( Heart Magazine - Winter 2011).
Below is a brief historical overview of the presence that the Society of the Sacred Heart has had since 1927 when the first Sacred Heart school was opened in The Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The presence of the Sacré-Coeur in the Congo goes back to November 1926 when five religious of the Sacred Heart accompanied by Mother Vicar Symon left the port of Anvers in Belgium on 3 November 1926. After a three week trip, they arrived in the then Belgian Congo, on 17 November 1926 to establish the presence of the Sacré-Coeur in the Congo by founding successively Kalina/Gombe in Kinshasa in (1927); Kipako (1930), Mbanza-Mboma (1946); Kimwenza (1956); a more recent addition in Livulu (1988).
Ecole du Sacré-Coeur de Livulu (1988)
Ecole Primaire De Livulu
571 Girls /Boys/Day
: 317 Girls
: 254 Boys
Ecole Maternelle De Livulu
: 142 Girls
: 164 Boys
Lycée du Sacré-Coeur de Kimwenza (1956)
Lycee De Kimwenza
Total 820: 373 boarders
Ecole Primaire De Kimwenza
Lycée du Sacré-Coeur de Mbansa-Mboma (1946)
LYCEE /SECONDARY: 251 Girls
203 boarders/48 day
PRIMARIES : Girls and Boys
Serving: Girls and Boys
Lycée du Sacré-Coeur de Kipako (1930)
145 Girls/28 Boys
Serving: Girls and Boys
Le Complexe Scolaire du Sacré-Coeur de la Gombe (1927)
Serving: 971 Girls (day)
The information above was taken from the International Network of Sacred Heart Schools
If I were a young Sacred Heart alum (AMASC Young Alums), I think the experience of working with Let Girls Learn would be very enriching. Perhaps some of the younger alums reading this blog post will agree?