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Cameroun Missions

 

3. Daughters of the CrossThe Missions of the 2. Cameroun Flag
Daughters of the Cross
in CameroUn

Contents 

 1.  Introduction
 2.  Geography
 3.  History
4.   Mission Maroua
5.   Mission Kumbo
6.   Mission Nkanchi
7.   Mission Ndu
8.   Transport
9.   Boko Harem
10. Fundraising

 

1. Introduction:

This report is regularly updated by the Sisters in Cameroun. All updates will appear in blue for ease of reference.

2. Geography: 

The country of Cameroon (French Cameroun) is located in Central Africa.
(As the Daughters of the Cross use the French notation, Cameroun, this is the version that the OGA has recently adopted.)

4. World map showing Cameroun

Cameroun is bordered to the West by Nigeria, to the Northeast by Chad,to the East by The Central African Republic and to the South by Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and the Republic of Congo.

5. Map of Cameroun

3. History:

 

Daughters of the Cross - Constitution 8 In the different countries where the Congregation is established, the Daughters of the Cross will always have a special preference for those who are poorest. They will serve Christ in the works of general and special education, the care of the sick and the aged, abandoned children, the physically and mentally handicapped, the socially deprived, local pastoral work and the various needs of the Church. They will remain faithful to their original charism, which excludes no work of mercy. 

How it began…

True to the message of ‘Constitution 8’, the Daughters’ of the Cross came to Cameroun (Cameroon) at the start of the new millennium. Here they created two communities in the Diocese of Maroua, North Cameroun. These communities developed and thrived until 2015, when they were forced to close (hopefully temporarily) under the imminent threat from Boko Harem who were attacking towns and villages at the nearby borders with Nigeria and Chad and crossing into Cameroun to attack villages near to the Mission. Alongside the missions in Maroua, another mission had been developing in the North West of the country in the Diocese of Kumbo. Shaken but undeterred by the violence of the Boko Harem, the Sisters of the Maroua Mission moved discretely to Kumbo to continue their support of local communities. Almost immediately, at the request of the Bishop of Kumbo, the Sisters from Maroua were invited to start a new mission, (the second in Kumbo Diocese), in a rural area to the west of Kumbo called Nkanchi.  Inspired by their faith and integrity to work unceasingly to support the communities of Cameroun, the Bishop has requested the Sisters to open a third mission within the Diocese, in Ndu. It is hoped that in July / August 2016, Daughters of the Cross will oversee the building and development of a Mission in Ndu that will have an additional focus of the education of secondary age school girls.

 

4. The Mission in Maroua:

 

This mission in Northern Cameroun, lying close to the borders of both Nigeria to the West and Chad to the East, was the first Mission established by the Daughters of the Cross in Cameroun in 2000.Through their work of evangelisation, education and social development, they established two communities within the region to provide support for families, women, children and prisoners.

6.Maroua 7. Sisters in the Maroua Mission

This mission in Northern Cameroun, lying close to the borders of both Nigeria to the West and Chad to the East, was the first Mission established by the Daughters of the Cross in Cameroun in 2000.Through their work of evangelisation, education and social development, they established two communities within the region to provide support for families, women, children and prisoners.
Rather than encouraging communities to become dependent upon the Mission, the Sisters endeavoured to develop the villagers’ ability to become self-sufficient. Projects included growing herbs to be used in cosmetics and medicine, developing needlework skills to produce garments to wear and sell and tending goats.

 

8.2007 knitwear 8a.needlework 8b.2007 villagers display their knitwear

 The Mission provided medical facilities including maternity support.

9.The Mission Health Centre 9a.A newborn at the Health Centre 9b.A bed in the Mission Health Centre

Education

The provision of education for both children and adults was a key focus. Initially, many classes started beneath the trees due to the lack of teaching facilities.

10. Teaching under tree

Gradually, the Sisters, together with the support of villagers and benefactors, established four schools between the two communities in Maroua, providing education to children and workshops for families and women’s groups.

11.Womens group 11a. Womens workshop
12. Teaching infants inside 12a.2007 Infant children at school 12b.2007 juniors

As the Mission became established and the Sisters gained the trust and friendship of those in the nearby villages and mountain regions, they began another major challenge, that of gaining permission to educate girls. There was no existing provision for this due to the local belief that the education of girls was unnecessary. Through prayers, negotiation and persistence, the Sisters succeeded in gaining approval in 2006. A school, solely for the education of girls, The Centre Marie Therese, was created and it soon became a flourishing site of education, occupying four buildings, including a library and facilities for audio-visual programmes, art and craft. By the 10th anniversary of the Sisters arriving in Cameroun, the school had 122 girls attending and accommodation to board at the school was offered to those that needed it.

13.Marie Therese School for Girls  13a.Marie Therese School for Girls  13b.Marie Therese School for Girls 

There were still obstacles to girls above 14 years receiving a formal education but the Sisters continued to encourage them to attend the school to learn practical skills such as dressmaking that would enhance their prospects for the future. Parents expressed their gratitude to the Sisters, fully aware of the contribution to building not only a better future for their children but also future generations. To quote one parent: “We are so happy that our girls are getting an opportunity to be educated. One day, when the Sisters have gone, our girls will be able to continue with the running of the school.”

St Philomena’s OGA and The Mada Mouyang project for homeless children

In 2013, members of the St Philomena’s OGA met with Sister Kathleen O’Reilly (Superior General of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross) to discuss how we, as an Association, could be more proactive in supporting the work of the Missions in Cameroun.
We were invited to be involved in the creation of the Mada Mouyang project. As the work of the Sisters in the Diocese of Maroua developed, they became aware of another significant area of deprivation – the vast numbers of orphans and abandoned children that live around the villages and the hillsides. Children as young as seven or eight, fighting not only for their own survival but often that of younger siblings too, for whom they have sole responsibility. On many occasions these children would venture to the Mission in Maroua to listen to Mass, enjoy the music and receive food.
These children not only exist without adequate food and clothing but they miss the love, warmth and guidance of a caring adult.

16.Homeless toddler  17. Homeless group  15 Homeless brothers 
18 Homeless boys on road  19. Sr K plus children 
20. Homeless boys  20a Homeless children   21.Sister and brother

However, in 2014, as the OGA began to fundraise with renewed vigour to support the Mada Mouyang project, the chilling attacks, burning of villages and abductions of Christians by Boko Harem very close to the Mission increased dramatically. After months of trying to continue the Mission whilst living under guard, the very difficult decision was taken to temporarily close the Mission in Maroua and move the Sisters to the Mission in the safer location in the Diocese of Kumbo, North West Cameroun.

 

5. The Mission in Kumbo

 

The Kumbo Mission was opened in 2013 with the original intention of building a formation house for young women hoping to enter the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross.
The closure of the Maroua Mission has necessitated the plans for this mission to be expanded, in order to create a new school and potentially to provide a secure shelter for homeless children.

22. Kumbo 2015  22a.Kumbo Mission   

 

 

6. The Mission in Nkanchi (Diocese of Kumbo)

 

In light of their unquestionable success of education and evangelisation through their missions in Maroua and Kumbo, the Bishop of Kumbo asked the Sisters to consider establishing a new school in Nkanchi, to the West of Kumbo. There was an existing school on the proposed site but on closer inspection it became obvious that these buildings were virtually derelict and unsafe.

23. Nkanchi derelict school 1   23a. Nkanchi derelict school 2 23b. Nkanchi school 3 

Despite such poor conditions, the Sisters have already started to teach the children of Nkanchi in the few buildings deemed safe.

24. Nkanchi classroom 1  24a. Nkanchi classroom 2  24b. Nkanchi classroom 3 

Again, driven by their faith and the calling to serve others within the community, the Sisters have considered what is needed within the area and they are planning their Mission accordingly. With the expertise of an architect, they have drawn up plans for the Mission to include a school, a dispensary and weekly boarding facilities for the children of remote areas that would otherwise not have access to an education. The estimated cost to develop this Mission is €84,000, (approximately £67,000).

 

7. The Mission in Ndu   (Diocese of Kumbo)

 

The faith and integrity of the Sisters and their ability to endure hardship in order to support the communities of Cameroun has so inspired the Bishop that he has asked them to start a third Mission within the Diocese.
In July /August 2016, two Sisters will move from their missionary work elsewhere in the world to come to Ndu to oversee the building and development of a secondary school for girls.
Thanks to the unceasing care and guidance of the Daughters of the Cross and the support of the Bishop of Kumbo, the girls will have the chance of a full education continuing to college and a career choice.

25.Construction of the Ndu Mission  25a.St Josephs Catholic Church Ndu   25b. Children of Ndu

Education is such a strong force to reduce poverty. This Mission draws so many parallels with the setting up of ‘our’ St Philomena’s, founded by the Daughters of the Cross in 1893 that it gives us a sense of bonding, despite the geographical distance between us.

 

8. Transport

 

With the exception of the relatively good one-laned toll roads that connect some of the major cities, the roads in Cameroun are relatively poorly maintained Only approximately 10 per cent are tarmacked and the remainder are soil and subject to the mercy of the weather. A theoretical 30 minute journey can takes hours. It is not uncommon for some roads to be impassable and journeys abandoned.

26.Lorry in road  26a.Transport by road 

These conditions make it even more difficult for the Sisters to fulfil their work at the Missions because most supplies are delivered by road.

 

9. Boko Harem

This fundamentalist Islamist sect, based in Nigeria, is opposed to Western education, political philosophy, and society. It aims to seize control of countries that it believes are under Western influence, overthrow the governments and implement sharia (Islamic religious law, based on the Koran). The translation of Boko Haram is ‘Western education is sinful’.

In 2013, Boko Haram began kidnapping civilians and attacking villages in northern Cameroun. The government attempted to stop them crossing the borders from Nigeria and Chad by deploying troupes but the attacks continued to escalate.

Boko Harem has in fact seized thousands of women and girls in northern Nigeria but it was the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, North East Nigeria in April 2014, which gained international interest due to the US First Lady, Michelle Obama and the Pakistani activist Lalala Yousafzai drawing the World’s attention to their plight. To date (May 2016) only one of the teenagers has been rescued from the Sambisa Forest and returned to her own family.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-36041635

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-36338989

27.Boko Harem 

In January 2015, Chad sent troupes to assist Cameroun, but the whole region remains very unsettled and dangerous for all but particularly for foreign residents and those that openly do not share the views of sharia.A report by UNICEF, (United Nations Children's Emergency Fund),indicates that in 2015 there were 151 suicide bombings by Boko Harem. One in five of these were by children as young as 8 years old and 75% of these children were girls. The girls are often drugged and the explosives strapped to their bodies to be detonated remotely when the girls are in prime positions to do the most damage e.g. on crowded buses or in bustling market places.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-36023444

10. Fundraising

As members of St Philomena’s OGA, we have supported the work of the Daughters’ of the Cross in Cameroun since 2000. However, in 2014, the opportunity arose for us to have even greater involvement in their work. We are committed to all their work within the Missions, particularly the provision of food and shelter to those abandoned; security and education to children living in poverty and the continued protection and education of teenage girls.

Please consider supporting the invaluable work of the Sisters through your prayers and if possible a financial donation. We have, through the generosity of a few Old Girls, given donations of £3000.

How to donate:   
Any donation is gratefully received.

You can send a cheque to the school, made payable to St Philomena's OGA Fundraising Account. If you prefer you can send a bank transfer or set up a standing order with the following details:

Lloyd's Bank plc, PO BOX 1000, BX1 1LT
Sort Code: 30-80-33
Account No.: 30599460

For further information or if you have any questions, please email Kathleen Peecock: kathleenpeecock@icloud.com