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Religious formation

 

ACN Project of the Week: Subsistence Support for Religious Sisters in Benin

05.12.2019 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Africa, Benin, Religious formation

Benin

Subsistence Support for Religious Sisters

Sister Helène and Sister Epiphanie, both from Togo, belong to the Congregation of the Missionary Catechetical Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart. Since July 2018, they have been living and working in Parakou, a large and quickly developing town, situated in northern Benin. Many different cultural and ethnic groups make up the population of Parakou, with a Muslim majority.

 

Since Parakou is at the centre of an important intersection and is easily accessible, the congregation established its formation house here in 1997, a place where the congregation’s young Sisters receive their training. Currently there are five young religious in the program. All are from poor African families, most are from faraway and cannot hope to be supported by their families – nor the local parishes which cannot afford to support their work despite the vital contribution they make. For example, instructing young people and adults in the Faith, or visiting the sick and elderly and bringing them Holy Communion.

ACN decided to step in and help. We are proposing subsistence support of $3,000 for the coming year for Sister Helène and Sister Epiphanie to sustain them in their work of providing a sound formation for the younger sisters.

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN Project of the Week—Support for the youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo, Bosnia

29.11.2019 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Eastern Europe, Pastoral aid, Pastoral care, Pastoral work, Religious formation

Project of the Week—Bosnia

Support for the youth pastoral centre in Sarajevo

By ACN International, Adapted by ACN Canada
Published online – November 29, 2019

Catholics are a minority in Bosnia and Herzegovina—now at a bare 14% of the population, and falling. This decline began during the Bosnian War (1992 to 1995) when half the Catholic population was expelled or forced to emigrate from the country. And with every new year, many continue their exodus as the future looks dim, owing to the discrimination they face when seeking employment, in attending schools and in regular social life. Catholic bishops have been complaining for years that Catholic Croat families who would otherwise be willing to return are not receiving the support they are entitled to. At the same time, a growing Islamization of the society is very noticeable, with the building of numerous new mosques.

 

The Catholic Church continues to work hard for a better future, through its reconciliation work, its schools and its charitable work, all of which are open to people of all ethnic groups. At the same time, the Church strives to offer steady employment opportunities that will provide families with some prospect for the future. One beautiful example of reconciliation work is the John Paul II Youth Centre in Sarajevo, offering a range of initiatives for promoting interfaith and interdenominational dialogue.

Spiritual Retreats, Pilgrimages and Interfaith Dialogue

Each year thousands of young people benefit from a broad range of programs offered by the centre. Their enthusiasm remains as they return with great energy to their own parishes to work with a renewed faith for a better future. The centre also offers employment, with 10 full-time positions and 10 part-time positions, providing these men and women with a steady income and a future for their families. An additional 300 volunteers help out as needed. Training in leadership is available along with courses in spiritual exercises for confirmation candidates, volunteers, altar servers and other types of youth groups. An ecumenical program is in place for young people of different faiths to learn about shared responsibility and how to create a better future in the society in which they live. Those attending come not only from the archdiocese of Sarajevo (Vrhbosna) itself, but from all over the country.

Other big events are have been organized, such as a large youth pilgrimage in May to the Shrine of Our Lady in Kondzilo,  which was attended again this year by well over 3,000 young people. A music festival, with modern Christian music, and a young people’s Way of the Cross procession giving hundreds of youth from individual parishes the opportunity to gather together in shared faith.

 

ACN recognizes the valuable work done by this youth centre named for the great Pope, Saint John Paul II. The Saint who held such great affection for young people, established the very first World Youth Days during his pontificate. This year we are helping once again, with a promised contribution of $37,500.

 

Are you inspired by this project? To give and make another similar project a success – click above and select: Project of the Week.

ACN Project of the Week – Training 22 seminarians in South Sudan

15.03.2017 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, Journey with ACN, Religious formation, Religious men, SEMINARIANS, South Sudan, Sudan

South Sudan                                                                

Training for 21 seminarians in the diocese of Tombura-Yambio

South Sudan is the youngest country in the world today.

In 2011, when the predominantly Christian and animist South of the country finally declared its independence from the overwhelmingly Muslim North after a quarter of a century of bloody civil war, the change was initially followed with great rejoicing. But, the joy did not last. In 2013 South Sudan slipped back into a new civil war.

Once again – as in so many other countries around the world – the Church is the only institution in which the suffering people can place their trust.

Pictures of seminarians at the minor seminary St. John Paul II in Tombura Yambio

With an area of over 81,000 km² the diocese of Tombura-Yambio is almost the size of Austria! The shortage of priests here is acute; many parishes do not have any priest at all. But even where there is a priest, he has to minister to an area so vast and with so many remote and widely scattered villages that the faithful in the local communities only rarely receive the Sacraments. As a result, many Catholics die without the last rites of the Church, many children remain unbaptized and the ordinary faithful are left longing to attend Holy Mass and receive Holy Communion.

Once again – as in so many other countries around the world – the Church is the only institution in which the suffering people can place their trust.

Therefore, the most pressing concern of the diocese is to provide its future priests with a good and solid formation. For every new vocation is a sign of hope for the future. So it is a source of great joy that there are 21 young men preparing for ordination right now,  in the diocesan seminary – the downside, however, is that the Bishop has no resources to fund their training. So often the parents of the seminarians have nothing. They have lost everything due to war, being uprooted and expelled from their homes and have even watched their houses burn to the ground and lost their few possessions to looting.

A seminarian at St. John Paul II in Tombura Yambio

“We are turning to our fellow Christians, hoping you can help us to train up our seminarians, so that they can become priests and serve the suffering people in our country, and at the same time become promoters of peace,” writes the rector of the seminary to us. And his bishop supports his request with these memorable words: “I do not want to see the future of the Church crumble in my hands.” He is also asking for our help.  We have promised him 28,275 dollars

 If you would like to support this or a similar project – simply click here to donate!  Thank you!

 


 

 

Feature Story – Bosnia: The impact of the Sister’s love in an orphanage

29.08.2016 in ACN International, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Bosnia Herzegovina, By Rolf Bauerdick, Feature Story, FORMATION, Religious formation, Sisters

Bosnia

“We are here for the children that need us.”

When Katarina leafs through the photo albums from the last two decades with Sisters Admirata and Manda, her joy is tinged by melancholy. The photographs keep memories of Katarina’s happy childhood days alive.

However, the realization that the sheltered days of her youth will soon be over is ever present. Katarina is the oldest child at the “Egipat House” orphanage  belonging to the Sisters Servants of the Child Jesus.

Her parents were refugees during the Bosnian war.  Uprooted, psychologically ill and no longer able to manage day-to-day life. They did not take care of Katarina and her older brother Stipo and left them with their grandmother. “The old lady was completely overwhelmed by the task of raising them,” Sister Admirata recalls, “and so we took the siblings in here.” Katarina was two years old when she came to live with the nuns. Now she is nineteen and getting ready to leave her familiar home. “I am a little nervous about how life will be outside of the home,” she says. Sister Admirata reassures her charge. She knows “Katarina is well-equipped for the grown-up world.”

 

A painting of Mgr. Josip Stadler (1843 – 1918). He's the founder of the orphanage and the Congregation. In addition, he was consider by many as « father of the poors » in his country.

A painting of Msgr. Josip Stadler (1843 -1918),  Considered by many in his country as ” Father of the poor.”

Admirata Lučić is the provincial superior of the religious order, which runs an orphanage and a kindergarten at its convent in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo. In the hall, hangs a life-sized painting commemorating Archbishop Josip Stadler (1843 – 1918), to whom the convent owes its existence and its spiritual foundation. Josip Stadler not only founded the religious order in 1890, but also made himself the advocate of neglected children in need by founding exemplary orphanages. At the time, the Sisters chose to give their convent the name “Egypt” to recall the flight of the Infant Jesus from the tyrant, Herod.

 

Today, the Sisters can look back on a history that was both rich in blessings, but also tempestuous, and one which, completely in contradiction to the benign spirit of Josip Stadler, was also quite often shaped by destruction and hatred. The order was expropriated in 1949 under the dictatorship of the Communist party in the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia. The convent building was confiscated, the children taken away from the nuns and placed in state-run facilities. “Faith no longer played a role in their upbringing,” Sister Admirata says. “You were no longer allowed to speak to the children of and about God.”In 1992, at the beginning of the Bosnian War, the Serbian military bombed the building into the ground. But, it rose again from out of the ruins.

 

Finding solutions together

Admirata and her twelve sister nuns, who are assisted in their everyday lives by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), are happy to have founded the first post-war orphanage in Bosnia in 1999 where today, 55 boys and girls attend kindergarten, while 19 children live full-time at the orphanage. Children who have lost their parents, or whose father and mother are unable to exercise their parental responsibility, have found in this place a home. Sister Admirata says, “However, we do put great stock in the fact that our kindergarten children not only come from difficult social environments, but also from intact backgrounds. We also have children of diplomats as well as from of middle-class families here.”

 

Katarina’s brother Stipo has already left the orphanage. He trained to become an auto mechanic and is now working for a church agricultural project in the Čardak region. After nine years of schooling, Katarina has also completed training to become a sales assistant and window dresser. “I hope to find a good job.” Her chances of finding work are good. The nuns are currently helping the young woman find an affordable place to live in Sarajevo, which is no easy task. However, Admirata exudes confidence, “we will find a solution together.”

 

Melissa, seven years old, and her brother Omer, eight years old. They are Muslims. In their work, the Sisters are helping and welcoming anyone who needs help, whit no limits about the confessions, like their founder tought.

Seven-year-old Melissa, and her eight-year-old brother Omer are Muslims. The Sisters welcome anyone who needs help, setting no limits on religious confession or background: exactly as did their founder.

Two Muslim children are new arrivals at the orphanage: seven-year-old Melissa and her brother Omer, who is one year older. Their mother moved away, leaving the two alone. Their father took another wife. Their siblings remained behind with their grandfather. Overwhelmed by the task of raising them, the old man went to the Servants of the Infant Jesus for help. His request was not in vain for today Omer and Melissa are attending first grade at the Catholic primary school and are flourishing in terms of their development. By accepting Muslim as well as Orthodox children at “Egipat House”, the Sisters are acting in full accordance with the philosophy upon which their order was founded. Josip Stadler was esteemed as the “Father of the Poor” by people of all religions and denominations. The Servants of the Infant Jesus also do not divide up the children by religious affiliation. “We are here for the children that need us,” Sister Admirata says.

 

Epilogue

Two days after speaking with them, the children and the Sisters are all in attendance at the ordination celebration to the priesthood of eight young men at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo. None can hide their joy, for they already knew some of these young men as seminarians.

 

June 2016: children are learning by playing and being love. This can happen because the Sisters receive a formation based on the Gospel. Thanks to you.

June 2016: children are learning through play and through the gift of love. This can only happen because the Sisters receive a formation based on the Gospel. And thanks to you!

 

Aid to the Church in Need supports the Sisters of the Servants of the Infant Jesus in the training of their novices. Last year, help was also given for the renovations of two convents that had suffered severe damage during  flooding in Bosnia.

 

By Rolf Bauerdick, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)
Adaptation by Amanda Bridget Griffin 

 


 

Journey with ACN – Rwanda

28.03.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, CONSTRUCTION, Journey with ACN, Religious formation, Rwanda

JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog.   Our weekly newsletter was designed to provide us with an opportunity to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and with some of the projects we have been able to realize together with ACN benefactors.

This week:    Rwanda


 

ACN-20140113-04328

 

 

 

Rwanda

Help for the construction of a guesthouse for the Carmelite nuns in Nyamirambo

The Carmelite sisters in Nyamirambo’s convent on the outskirts of the Rwandan capital of Kigali, is a place of silence and of prayer.

Time and again people are drawn to this atmosphere, wanting to spend a few days withdrawn from the world to find their way back to God. More and more priests, religious and laity are requesting the opportunity to have retreats here. However, the Carmelite sisters are not in a position to accommodate visitors, for they simply do not have the capacity and – owing to the happy circumstance that they have many vocations – they need all the available space for their own community.

In order to resolve the problem, the sisters began building a separate guesthouse in 2001, which included 24 rooms. The convent is situated in a beautiful location:  a hillside with a view of Mount Kigali and Mount Rebero. It is a perfect place for their visitors to find rest and renewal, both in body and in spirit. The centre will also provide some employment for local people, such as cooks and cleaners for example, giving them an opportunity to supplement their family income. And for the Carmelite sisters themselves the guesthouse will at the same time be a precious and much-needed source of income.

The first phase of the construction has already been completed, thanks to the help of ACN. But now the sisters need more help to complete the work. They write, “The Child Jesus is urging us to turn to you in trust and seek your help.”

We have no doubt that our benefactors will not disappoint these good nuns, and so we have already promised $133,650  to help them complete their work on this oasis of peace and prayer.

 

To make a donation by  please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333  or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

 

 

Jamaica – Formation for men and women of the Consecrated Life

27.06.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Catholic priests, Catholic Religious Brothers, Catholic Religious Sisters, CONSECRATED LIFE, FORMATION, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Jamaica, Jesuits, Religious education, Religious formation, Religious men, SEMINARIANS

The following series of texts has an objective to introduce you to the many kinds of assistance needed by various organizations, parishes or Catholic communities throughout the world.  We invite you to travel with us to all the continents that you may see how very important your support is to them.

 

Enjoy the read !

 

By ACN International

Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada

What Richard Ho Lung had seen, had changed everything. The poverty and destitution, the violence and suffering present in Jamaica deeply moved Father Richard Ho Lung. In 1981, this Jesuit priest and university professor set aside his academic titles and duties. He had studied philosophy, English literature, theology, and had lectured at St. George’s College, at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica as well as at Boston College in the United States. In 1971, Jamaican-born Richard Ho Lung was ordained to the priesthood. “I was preaching the Word of God, but not really living it,” recalled Father Richard.

JAMAIQUE-2He left the Jesuit order and went to live in slums and ghettos of Kingston, the Jamaican capital. “I got to know the poor and came to understand the Beatitudes of Christ as my mission,” says Father Richard, now aged 73, whose father and mother originated from Hong Kong.

At first, there was considerable astonishment among those he encountered, but very soon people came to admire this priest who had devoted himself to caring for the poor, the elderly and the sick. Drawn by his example, others soon joined him and very quickly a small community of four men, priests and laity, was formed. They called themselves the Brothers of the Poor, because they were indeed accepted within these circles as such.

 

Jamaica:  A young country

The Kingston’s bishop encouraged and supported this young community that had just come into being. Later, the brothers continued their service in the slums by establishing a home for the homeless. Soon after, they began helping prisoners. They drew strength for their growing task of ministering to the material and spiritual needs of the poorest of the poor, from their community life, rooted in faith and regular times for prayer, liturgy and discussion. The young community grew and later changed its name to the Missionaries of the Poor.

The Beatitudes became their guiding rule, while listening and helping became their daily routine. In order to help people find a way out of poverty and violence, the brothers encouraged those involved to adopt a new way of thinking, a fundamental conversion of spirit. Instead of resorting to violence and fighting one another, they were encouraged to embark on joint initiatives together. Father Richard reminded the brothers, “Whatever Christ said, did and suffered, we too must say, do and suffer.” The centres run by the brothers are places not only for meetings and social support but also for silence and prayer.

The concrete spiritual and material needs of society are seen by the community as a challenge. For Jamaica is a young country, the average age of its population being 2.8 million is under the age of 24. The Holy Innocents Crisis Centre was created to meet this challenge, a home and refuge for up to 200 at-risk mothers and their babies, or expectant mothers about to give birth.

The order, Missionaries of the Poor, has now spread worldwide and currently numbers over 500 brothers and priests, not only in Jamaica but also in Haiti, in India, Indonesia and Kenya, the Philippines, Uganda and the United States. They are supported in their work by part-time volunteers as well.

ACN has supported the Missionaries of the Poor in the past and this year we are supporting them once again in Jamaica, with a contribution of $ 27,000 for the formation of 106 brothers and 44 novices, to ensure the continuum of their ministry to the poor and spiritual lives built on solid foundations.

 

 

If you wish to make a donation, please call us:  (514) 932-0552 or 1 (800) 585-6333

 

 

 

IFHIM conclusion -THE SOUNDS OF SENEGAL

02.06.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, FORMATION, IFHIM, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Liturgical dance, Pastoral care, Pastoral work, Religious education, Religious formation

To bring our video presentations from the En Route Towards Peace evening, organized by the students of IFHIM – l’Institut de formation humaine intégrale de Montréal,to a close, we would like to invite you to listen to this version of the Hail Mary, sung in Senegalese.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcP932pXi0U&w=560&h=315]

We hope these inspirational videos held your interest and also convinced you of the great value of this well-founded mission, developed by IFHIM, to spread Peace around this planet.

DIMANCHE-1

IFHIM is one of the many religious formation projects supported by Aid to the Church in Need, thanks to the generosity of its benefactors.
If you are interested in supporting such a project – please contact us!

With much gratitude,

Amanda Griffin, (514) 932-0552 Ext 221
Robert Lalonde, (514) 932-0552 Ext 224

IFHIM “LA CADENA”

01.06.2013 in ACN International, EVANGILIZATION, FORMATION, IFHIM, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Liturgical dance, Religious education, Religious formation

After being greeted with two liturgical songs, let us today go with something more festive! A Latino dance called La cadena, which speaks about building a bridge of Peace (music by Rafaël Manzanares Aguilar).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NVl41Y_ei8&w=420&h=315]

Not to miss! Tomorrow’s conclusion of this series of dances and song from the students at IFHIM – with the Hail Mary set to music in Senegalese.

IFHIM – Liturgical Song 2

31.05.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, EVANGILIZATION, FORMATION, IFHIM, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Religious education, Religious formation

Today we have the pleasure of offering you a second liturgical song entitled Have No Fear ( text according to Isaiah 43, musical arrangement by Jean- Jean-Baptiste Sarton du Jonchay).

Ne crains pas je suis ton Dieu
C’est moi qui t’ai choisi, appelé par ton nom.
Tu as du prix à mes yeux et je t’aime.
Ne crains pas car je suis avec toi.

Contre-chant :

Va, avec la force qui t’anime
Va vers tous les peuples de la terre
Pour bâtir des ponts de paix
Pour que l’amour soit vivant
Va ne crains pas, je suis avec toi.

Le Seigneur m’a appelé dès le sein de ma mère,
Il a prononcé mon nom
C’est lui qui m’a formé pour être son serviteur
Le témoin de sa paix.

Translation

Have no fear, I am your God
It is I who chose you, called by your name.
You have worth in my eyes and I love you.

Have no fear, I am with you.

Go, with the power that animates you
Go to all the peoples of the world
To build bridges of Peace
So that love is alive

Go, have no fear, I am with you.

The Lord has been calling to me since I nursed at my mother’s breast
He spoke my name
It is He who molded me to be His servant
To bear witness to His Peace.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFUA9DZaseM&w=560&h=315]

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s video of a Latin-American dance!

Interview with Sister Maria Bassaga from Cameroon

03.05.2013 in ACN Canada, ACN International, EVANGILIZATION, IFHIM, Prison ministry, Religious education, Religious formation

Soeur Maria 1Sister Maria, you have been consecrated to the religious life for over 10 years.  Can you tell us about the journey you took to make this important decision?

In my village, there is a grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary.  Each year, in the month of February, pilgrims gather to spend a week in prayer.  I can remember that at about the age of seven, I was teasing my sister, saying that one day I would become a nun.  But this idea disappeared around the age of twelve.  But when I reached the age of 18 – when the time to choose for my future – the idea manifested once again.  I then felt called from within to become a nun and to serve the world.  I told my mother and all my sisters only to find out, quite curiously, that I was not supported by any of them.  With the exception of my aunt, my entire family was against my call to this vocation.

At some point I began to work with Msgr. Thomas Mongo and confided in him my need to serve the Lord through becoming a religious sister.  After listening to me explain the situation, he asked me for permission to call my mother.  He asked her to come to meet him, and then asked her how many children she had.  And so then he said: “Jeanne, if you have eight children, why are you reticent?  Could it be that God wants you to give him one of them?” It was then that my mother realized that she had to let me enter religious life.  When I took my vows, she cried tears of joy at seeing me so happy.

Can you speak to us about the congregation for whom you perform your work?

The Congregation of the Servant Sisters of Douala is a diocesan congregation which was founded by a Spiritan priest, Msgr Mathurin Le Mailloux, who, when arriving in Douala, felt the mission was solely supported by priests and that there was neither an indigenous congregation nor an international congregation.

So, it began with the Sisters of Mary and the Servants of Mary.  When the diocese was divided, the Daughters of Mary remained in the political capital of Yaoundé and we stayed in the economic capital of Douala.  This is how our congregation was born.  We are available to move into any situation where there are urgent needs, especially those related to education and health.

You recently sent a project request for construction to Aid to the Church in Need.  Can you describe it for us?

We are currently living in the noviciate where our congregation first settled more than 100 years ago.  We thought at first we would be able to do repairs, but experts told us that the buildings held such risks that they couldn’t repair them.  This is why it is important to rebuild one or two new ones such as the old buildings with dispensaries, a college and a residence for girls and boys – we thought of settling the sisters above and the children below with the teacher.  Seeing as our diocesan community is aboriginal, we have few subsidies issuing from elsewhere.

You underwent training at the Instititut de formation humaine intégrale de Montréal (Montreal Institute for Human Integral Formation) Can you tell us what the formation offered you in concrete terms?

It is thanks to Aid to the Church in Need that I was able to undergo this formation.  First of all, it allowed me to observe what was going on within me and give me the tools to handle myself.  Consequently, it allows me to better help others, now. As the majority of the children entrusted to us by their parents are children with problems, I must accompany them and listen to them so they can uncover their abilities.  I was able to salvage a few who are now pursuing their studies at university.  One of them went to university and has found work.  In the meantime, there are others who cannot continue because they do not have the means, one of who is in his 2nd year.  This formation allowed me to better respond to my human and spiritual vocation.

We know that Cameroon is surrounded by countries with rather tumultuous climates these days.  For example, western Nigeria and Boko Harem, or the situation in the east of the Republic of Centralafrica where the rebel Seleca group is exercising Islamic rigorist pressures or in northeastern Chad where Seleca seems to be grouping together as well.  Would you say that Cameroon is currently subjected to these harmful influences?

I feel more like in Cameroon there is a collaborative spirit between the religions.  For example, when there is a marriage between a Protestant man and a Catholic woman, both a pastor and a priest come to celebrate the marriage together.  Or again, when the Pope came to visit, there was a sense of unity among Catholics, Protestants and Muslims.  It touches me very deeply to see that we can intermingle harmoniously with one another.

How is your community celebrating the Year of the Faith?

We did a three day pilgrimage to Marie Anvers, where the first missionaries of the Catholic Church settled.  Msgr John Bosco wanted to highlight the importance of feeling everyone engaged, as much in the celebrations as in the exchanges about faith.  Further, keeping in mind the Pope’s message, our Superior asked us to meditate and to share on four themes, one per week.  For example, yesterday, we spoke of the biblical teaching where we look at the courage of the apostles in their commitment to persist to the very end.Soeur Maria 2

If I asked you to tell us about an experience that was particularly moving for you over the course of your career, what would you talk about?

I would speak to you about my work in the prisons.  This year, I committed to not staying in our health center to attend to patients.  I go down to the villages, to the neighbourhoods, to live with them.  We organized our work by neighbourhood.  The Édéa prison happens to be in my neighbourhood.  So I decided to see how the prisoners live inside and I was deeply touched.  I then chose to contribute with what little that I have to offer.

When I entered, I was astonished to see the conditions in which they lived.  I didn’t think that human beings could live in such conditions. They are crammed together and the heat is suffocating.  You know, it is very hot in Cameroon.  They go in their cells at 5pm and do not come out before 7am and spend the night awake.  They have skin eruptions, hernias, some have diarrhea.  I was stunned.  Moreover, there is no sense of hygiene.  People eat without washing their hands, they eat where they urinate and defecate, and there are no garbage cans…

It allowed me to evaluate how I could be of service. Others have boils and abscesses.  I was obligated to go and see the nurse to verify the contents of the medicine cabinet.  I saw that there was no medication, no basic necessities, not even a bandage. I invited the nurse to come to our health center in order to give him the necessities so that he could help them a little. I will return in any case to treat them.

What kind of help are you looking for from people?

First of all, if there are people who come as tourists, I invite them to come and see us so they can witness to this reality which they probably would have a hard time believing.  I have never seen this elsewhere, myself.  You know, the images that you see in the newspapers and on the television do not reveal the gravity of the situation.

I even went to see the prefect of the prison to tell him “This can’t be true!  This is not alright!  Being in prison does not mean one is supposed to die.  Being in prison is about changing one’s life and returning to society.” He told me he would do something, but he did nothing. So, perhaps people can send us medication or make donations to Aid to the Church in Need on our behalf.

But if I had a message to transmit, it would be that of finding the means to help young people who are without parents and some of which are undergoing treatment for AIDS.  They need encouragement to go to school.  There are obviously many challenges.