In the spirit of Laudato Si′—Pope Francis’ call to care for our common home and its people—Holy Cross School in Kulaura, Bangladesh, has installed solar panels for energy and a filtration system for clean water, as well as obtaining the school’s first computers and new playground equipment.A $7,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters made the improvements possible. “The local village has greatly appreciated these advancements,” said Sister Shiuli Gomes, CSC, headmistress, “and through them, we are developing a more community-minded approach that more closely connects the village and school and increases engagement of the village as central to our school’s success.”
She adds, “The school’s carbon footprint also is reduced, and students can see firsthand the benefits of solar energy and the importance of caring for creation.”
A Catholic education brings a better life
Northeast Bangladesh has some of the highest rates of thunderstorms in the country. Often, these storms knock the power out for days at a time. Students at Holy Cross School were not only deprived of electricity during the day (making classrooms dark and hot), at night without lights the school was vulnerable to security threats.
The 500 residents of Kulaura already have enough obstacles before them. They are in a disadvantaged area between two large tea plantations, where many earn less than $2 per day. Only 41 percent of residents are literate, and nearly half the children are moderately or severely underweight, according to the World Bank. Support from the government is limited. Parents are eager for their children to get educated for a chance at a better life than they currently have.Now, several improvements at Holy Cross School are helping children to be healthier, happier and smarter.
Fruits of Holy Cross
Every month, Fruits of Holy Cross shares the good news of the ministries of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Our “fruits” are nourished not just by the sisters’ labors or the seed of faith planted by our founder Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, they are watered by our many prayer partners, donors and benefactors—by you.
Solar power and clean water
The Sisters of the Holy Cross opened Holy Cross School in 2018 in response to the villagers’ request. Today, the school supports about 90 students in nursery through fourth grades. Additional grades are being added each year.
While the solar panels power just the school, the new water filtration system is a boon for the entire village. “Since our water has heavy iron, it is not safe to drink. We have long needed a solution,” says Sister Shiuli. The new system also benefits two other ministries of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Kulaura: the Holy Cross Health Education Centre and the Prottasha Sewing Center, which provides vocational training to women. Many of the women learning a trade at Prottasha have children in Holy Cross School.
Staff and teachers also are excited that they now have three computers and a projector to enhance learning for their young students. And the playground equipment has been a huge attraction. Too many children were suffering from depression and a lack of motivation due to the pandemic. Now they are getting outside and playing on the swings, slides, seesaws and merry-go-rounds. There is much laughter and joy.Together, the four advancements foster success by keeping students free from water-borne disease, providing electricity to run lights and fans in the classrooms, advancing students’ exposure to technology, and encouraging socialization and play. It’s a powerful combination.