Ursuline has celebrated a “Global Day” for over a decade now, challenging Ursuline girls every year to be aware of their global landscape. Each Global Day has included both varied speakers and a universal market full of potential Christmas gifts. Beyond the charm of unique international products, the Global Market follows a more serious and altruistic purpose.
The humanitarian cause has been a part of Global Day since early on in its tenure. This year, the market will benefit two familiar causes and one new one. Beginning in 2008, Ursuline has sent money raised from the Global Market to St. Catherine’s Girls Primary School in Nangina, Kenya. The girls’ school is continuously in need of assistance for the tuition of orphaned girls that otherwise would not be able to attend.
Ursuline’s annual student delegation to the bordering country of Uganda also participates in aiding St. Catherine’s. When the delegation travels to Uganda, much-needed items of backpacks, shoes, socks and underwear fill suitcases to the brim. Handmade greeting and Christmas cards, school supplies, bedding and equipment have all made their way to the girls in Kenya. Funds from selling intramural shirts and Catholic Schools Week activities are also sent at the end of each school year, a joint effort by the art club and student council.
“Each year St. Catherine’s receives a photo of the students in the art club which Sr. Anne Onyancha, the principal, proudly displays in her office for all to see.” said Ms. Nipp, head of the global department.
Another school that the Global Market supports is similarly a primary school. Known as Colegio Ursulino Miramar, the school is run by Ursuline sisters and located in Peru, much like Colegio Santa Ursula, Ursuline’s own Peruvian sister school. In Peru, Ursuline’s global department will purchase souvenirs and trinkets to be brought back to Dallas and sold on Global Day. The profits that they garner complete the cycle, returning to Peru and the nuns of Colegio Ursulino Miramar.
Ursuline began aiding the primary school six years ago. Located in an impoverished area of Lima, the children there need uniforms and food that their families cannot otherwise afford. “The Ursuline sisters feed the children themselves to make sure they have at least one good meal a day,” said Ms. Nipp. Although the sisters do not receive many donations, they must account for the expenses of maintaining the school of about 400-500 students.
Besides benefitting two schools, the Global Market will serve as Ursuline’s response to a recent appeal for help from Ursuline sisters based in crisis-stricken Venezuela. The appeal came from Sr. Brenda Ferreira O.S.U. and was passed to the Central Province, U.S.A. of the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union by Sr. Elisa Ryan O.S.U., who knows Sr. Brenda personally. Ursuline Dallas is part of the Central Province, and many of the 40 provinces of the Ursuline Sisters of the Roman Union around the world are sending aid.
Since the economic crisis struck Venezuela severely in 2014, people who have not already left the country continue to face the harsh consequences of hyperinflation. The annual inflation rate reached 83,000% last July, according to the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Venezuela’s legislative body. Due to the inflation, food is a luxury to most Venezuelans.
“When people go to buy bread, if there even is bread available, they have to bring along an enormous pile of Venezuelan money,” said Ms. Nipp, as she indicated the size of a large stack of cash with her hands. In June, a million bolivars were only worth 29 U.S. cents, according to Condé Nast Traveller.
Extreme poverty has risen by 40%, and in the slums of the country, children are the most vulnerable to hunger. Mothers and children scavenging for food in landfills are a common sight, said BBC reporter Vladimir Hernandez. Families simply cannot afford to buy food as what is available is far too expensive.
More and more children are living on the streets, as they leave home to escape abusive parents or because there are too many mouths to feed at home. The problem of feeding their children has forced pregnant mothers to make inconceivable decisions, giving up their babies for adoption or sending away grown children to live with strangers. These Venezuelan children have not lost hope for the future. One boy interviewed by Hernandez said that he wants to study hard someday in order to help anyone who has had to beg like he has.
The Ursuline sisters in Venezuela have been giving out food and clothing to the people in their neighborhood and providing shelter to those that need it. They have also been coping with governmental persecution of Catholics and the poor. Because U.S. dollars are more valuable than any other currency in Venezuela, the money raised from the Global Market will go a long way to support the sisters, and through them, the people of Venezuela.
I am so glad you all are going to help them,” said Sr. Lois Castillon, O.S.U. By shopping in the Global Market, finding the perfect Christmas gift becomes more than just that. At the heart of it, it is finding the souls in need around the world and building up their hope.