Lent Appeal: Cameroon

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Pictured are Innocent Bertin and Odile Amelie joined together in holy Matrimony by His Grace Archbishop Denis-Marie Ngodobo, Metropolitan of ORCCLR Africa in the chapel of St John the Apostle (background) in the Oyom-Abang quarter of Yaoundé, Cameroon last year.

An important part of Lenten Observance is almsgiving and here we present an opportunity for those looking for a deserving apostolate to give to as part of their Lenten observance…

The Church in Cameroon continues to experience exceptional growth. More chapels like St John’s (pictured) are needed to supply the faithful of Cameroon with appropriate places fitting for the worship of almighty God and as community centres. The Church has no shortage of clergy nor faithful to fill such places! Yaoundé is the capital of Cameroon and with a population of approximately 2.5 million, the second largest city in the country after the port city of Douala.

In Cameroon, poverty is everywhere, with over 50 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, particularly women and children. Just over half of the population is under 20 years old and infant and under-five mortality rates are on the increase. Debt servicing is a significant drain on government resources. Growing defence expenditure and widespread corruption also impacts considerably on the provision of basic services such as education and health.

Cameroon, like many sub-Saharan countries, faces poverty which is made worse by the affects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. 5% of the adult population is affected by HIV/AIDS. There were an estimated 300,000 orphans in 2007 as a result of HIV/AIDS, 27% of all orphans (Source UNICEF)

Chapels for the faithful in Cameroon would provide not just places of worship but centres for local communities, particularly in the rural areas and the socially deprived areas of the major towns and cities where the ORCCLR especially ministers. Such community centres have multiple uses as places of schooling for infants and young children, medical centres for the local population and places of social interaction. They can also be places where international aid services can be stationed and accessed.

Integrating young Cameroonians into the country’s economic life is still a challenge. The government has recently shown its readiness to strive for better integration of young people and this should produce results in the short and medium term. Nursery and Primary schools would enable young people to receive the basics in education in order to progress as adults – it would also relieve the parents to find work too to support the family. The Church would like to establish such schools with new Chapels.

The Church in Cameroon has a few Chapels and runs local schools from them but the demand is great and exceeds the expectations of what the faithful can afford to give, one third of the population live below US$1.25 per day (a 500g loaf of bread costs 0.73USD). The ORCCLR Cameroon has a Seminary in Yaoundé which houses the Metropolitan, tutors and seminarians and there is a religious women’s order, the Congregation of Mary and the Franciscan Missionaries of faithful Apostles which assist in the parish missions particularly with schooling for children. Having the basics and support structure with which to begin serious development, the future is very positive for the ORCCLR Cameroon but it is frustrated by lack of funding to provide the apostolates with a focal place of worship and service which more Chapels would provide.

IF you would like more information in order to make a contribution, please contact His Grace, Archbishop Denis-Marie Ngodobo.

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