Twinning, an initiative by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, fosters financial assistance from financially capable districts to support those in need. In the Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN), middle and secondary schools in the United States and Toronto are paired with 14 ministries in the Lwanga District of Africa, encompassing Kenya, Nigeria, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. Beyond financial aid, RELAN schools and Lwanga ministries develop fraternal relationships among students: sharing challenges, achievements, stories, and experiences.
Since March of 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges that few could have imagined. This is especially true for our brothers and sisters in developing nations.
On behalf of the RELAN Twinning program, I offer our deep gratitude for the way that many of you have responded to the needs of your twin school during these most unique times. The emergence of the Covid virus had a significant impact on the educational system in the LWANGA schools, such as in Kenya where the government had to change the timing of the traditional school year, or in Eritrea where the government moved forward with the nationalization of the Brothers’ schools.
As Lasallians, we embrace our heritage that education happens within the context of community. The classroom is viewed as a place of salvation, and the relationships that are formed there represent the essence of who we are as Lasallian educators. Due to the pandemic, traditional ways of providing education were upended. Across the Lasallian world, educators responded with innovative practices and inspiring personal commitments to their students and their families.
The reality is that Covid variants are still impacting our global educational systems–but Lasallians are people of hope and will continue to provide an education to the best of our ability to the young people that God has entrusted to our care.
Despite the challenges, the Twinning relationships have remained strong. Brother Visitor for Lwanga Ghebreyesus Habte, FSC, and General Councilor for RELAN Brother Timothy Coldwell, FSC, have chosen the theme of Dreaming Together for the Future for the 2021-2022 academic year. Please view their welcome video here.
For this Lenten season, new resources have been developed. Of particular note are the updates from each LWANGA ministry regarding how the coronavirus has affected their educational community. Also new is the opportunity to donate directly to a Lwanga ministry through Christian Brothers Conference–this can be found on the individual Lwanga ministry page.
To our DENA-based Twinning coordinators, thank you, for your continued commitment and efforts on behalf of our sisters and brothers of the Lwanga District. We continue to pray for the day when the pandemic is controlled and we can once again be fully in one another’s presence.
Associate Executive Director
Office for Mission and Ministry
There are nearly 15 Twinning ministries supported by Lasallian schools throughout the United States. For many of our DENA ministries, Lent has been the traditional time to raise funds for the RELAN-LWANGA Twinning — and this year it remains the same but the traditional ways of conducting those fundraising efforts are for the most part not available this year. Therefore, it is with gratitude for your forthcoming efforts that we offer updated resources to assist you.
When school abruptly closed, Mount La Salle gave food on hand to support staff. The Brothers’ community is relying on the Sector office for upkeep since school fees are not being paid. Since Naka is an agrarian town, many people who would ordinarily work in an office have taken to farming for survival. The school community has cultivated maize, beans and cassava. The Brothers have spent more time on crops and animals.
Schools are required to implement preventative measures, such as social distancing, regular hand washing, face masks/shields, temperature checks and more. The school has adjusted furniture to promote social distancing. “…the administrative team of the school has agreed to enforce the preventive measures that are within our reach, and leave the rest to God,” Brother Godwin said.
“Though it seems distance has kept us apart, united in one heart and mind in prayer at this difficult time, God’s life-giving spirit sustains and unites us as one Lasallian family.” Brother Godwin Biin, FSC, Principal
Children who live at Child Discovery Center (CDC) have been placed with foster families. The center has suspended projects, reduced staff salaries and will possibly limit the numbers of students it can serve when it reopens.
90% of children at CDC attend government institutions, so their return to school is doubtful because most government schools are not meeting standards to prepare for reopening. The biggest challenge for CDC will continue to be finances.
“Thank you for your relentlessness support of CDC. Surely, for so many children, going to school would just be a dream. But your donations have allowed us to educate students, who went on to get jobs and have families. Therefore, in the same spirit of solidarity, let’s continue to support very needy African children.” Brother Paul Anderson, FSC, Principal
The lockdown has been lifted but a curfew is in place from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Most of the students are suffering due to a lack of basic needs. St. La Salle School has not been able to pay the teachers and staff since school closed. The Brothers are struggling to keep afloat as a community.
Students will remain in their current grades when schools reopen. St. La Salle has been sending assignments to students to do at home. The school’s biggest challenge for reopening will be lacking resources needed to prepare. Many private schools have closed down permanently. “We hope and pray our school will not be part of this statistic come next year,” wrote Brother Stephen.
“To our twinned ministries, we believe God has a purpose for everything and he knows better why he brought us together…As you start your new semester, remember and pray for our students who won’t be able to see the door of the classroom until next year. We pray your semester to be successful and any support to our school to be able to keep afloat will be highly welcomed.” Brother Stephen Mwaura, FSC, Principal
Let us remember that we are in the Holy Presence of God.
Loving God, Creator of all that is good and holy,
through Your grace, You inspired
Saint John Baptist de La Salle,
to open schools for the young so we may learn
of Your love for us and receive a Christian education
thereby becoming the sons or daughters You created us to be.
Today, guided by Your Divine Providence,
the Lasallian mission enriches the lives of
thousands of young people all over our world.
During this time of Lent,
we offer our prayers in a special way
for our fellow Lasallian sisters and brothersin twinned schools in the Lwanga District and the Lasallian Region of North America
As a global Lasallian faith community,
we live in association through our twinning program,
for we pray for one another,
learn from one another,
and support one another.
Our hearts are filled with gratitude as we engage in this blessed opportunity
to deepen the connection twinned schools share.
Loving God, we pray that You will touch our hearts,
filled with zeal for the mission,
as we, Lasallians on two continents, come together in solidarity.
May we gain a greater understanding that,
although distance separates us,
we have more in common than we may realize.
We pray this in the name of Jesus, Your Son and our brother, Amen.
Saint John Baptist de La Salle … Pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts … Forever!
The Twinning Map, images, and news, visit the Region’s website
We are Lasallians: De La Salle Christian Brothers, educators, staff, students, parents, alumni and supporters following the vision of Saint John Baptist de La Salle.
The Lasallian Region of North America (RELAN) includes ministries in the United States and Canada. The Lasallian mission is present in 80 countries.
High-level mission formation programs are available, designed to strengthen Lasallian identity and mission in the hearts and minds of those who serve.