Sister Norma, was born in Curacao and educated mainly in the Netherlands. Before entering Maryknoll, she received two years of teacher training in Suriname, and then earned a Master’s Degree in Sociology in the Netherlands. She is fluent in Dutch, English, Spanish, Papiamento (Curacao’s lingua franca), Sranangtonga (the language of Suriname, her mother’s birthplace), Swahili, and Bari, a language of the Sudan.
Sister Norma entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in 1980. She studied Theology for two years and also worked with young people at Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry. Her first mission assignment was in Sudan, where she counseled chronically ill patients. In 1986 she was assigned to Tanzania, where she worked to provide post-primary school educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth, especially girls. She encouraged the girls to go to secondary and vocational school. She also developed a reverse mission program bringing youth from Tanzania to Curacao and the United States to share their life experiences through song and dance.
In 1994, Sister Norma changed the course of her ministries, from a grassroots focus to that of Organization and Human Development. She received training from the National Training Laboratory (NTL) for behavioral science in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2004, Sister Norma received her Ph.D. in Human and Organizational Systems from the Fielding Institute in Santa Barbara, California.
Sister Norma works with a wide range of organizations in different parts of the world. She conducts workshops on racism and offers training to help participants deal with systemic, interpersonal and personal issues when dealing with diversity. She also does cultural coaching with individuals and groups.
Sister Norma is a member of the Maryknoll Sisters Tanzania Region and lives in Washington, DC. She shares her expertise several times a year in workshops she conducts in Africa and the United States. Sister Norma’s seminars have drawn high praise. As one religious said, Sister Norma has the skills needed “to bring people together.”