The apostolic vicariate of Bomadi is situated in the south of Nigeria in the Niger Delta region. Unlike in the North of the country, Islam does not play any significant role in this area. The majority of the population still follow traditional African religions, although many people are very open to the Good News of the Gospel, which is helping to liberate them from their fear of evil spirits and witchcraft. But the work of the Church is not easy, since this is a region of deep poverty, with very little infrastructure, such as roads, and little access to clean drinking water, basic medical care or electricity.
Given the myriad of different waterways in the Niger Delta, many of the villages can only be reached by river. Most of the people manage to scrape a meagre living from fishing or subsistence farming. And despite the massive oil reserves in the region, the ordinary people have gained little or nothing from the oil exploitation and production. On the contrary, the oil production has caused extensive pollution of the waterways and the people have to live with the consequences. Infant mortality is higher here than in other regions of the country, for example.
As a result, the work of the religious sisters in the region is bringing great blessings. They teach the children and help the poorest families in their need. Yet at the same time many of the sisters, who come from other regions of Nigeria, are fearful of travelling by boat to these remote villages, since they have no experience of these waterways and are often unable to swim.
In 2012 therefore, Bishop Egbebo, the apostolic vicar, founded the new congregation of Our Lady Star of the Sea, which especially aims to promote vocations from within the territory of the vicariate itself. For these local women are familiar with the challenges of the Delta region and are therefore well-equipped to travel out to these remote villages where the people need their help.
However, as a result of the pandemic, the sisters themselves have fallen on hard times, since many of them, who formerly taught in the schools now no longer receive any wages. This was previously the principal source of income for the community. But now they barely have enough for their own daily needs, while at the same time their expenses are rising, since they also have to purchase disinfectants and personal protective equipment in order to prevent the spread of the virus and enable them to continue working among the people while at the same time protecting themselves and others. And so ACN is helping the sisters with a contribution of 5500 Euros for the support of their life and ministry.