The diocese of Mamfe is situated in southwest Cameroon. It was established in 1999 by Pope John Paul II and initially had just six parishes. But now the number of parishes has grown to 25. The people here are very poor, and even the bishop himself is not too proud to work the fields in order to support himself. But there are other problems as well. The diocese is close to the frontier with Nigeria, and in recent years many people have come into the area, fleeing the terror attacks of Boko Haram. But now there have also been attacks and incursions into Cameroon, so that here too the people are living in fear.
The distances in this diocese are considerable, and as a result the pastoral ministry to the people involves major challenges. In some areas it can take up to 18 hours to reach the parishes. Other parishes find themselves completely cut off during the rainy season, while others again can only be reached by boat. Additionally, there are mountainous regions, where the roads are very dangerous. Most are not tarred and have large and deep potholes, and when the rains come, other roads simply become a sea of mud. What is needed here, at the very least, is a solid four-wheel-drive vehicle, if the priest is not to be left helplessly stranded.
The diocese has its own pastoral office, which provides a range of programmes for evangelisation, religious formation and other ongoing training. The priests and pastoral workers go out into the parishes in order “to bring the good news of salvation to every corner of the diocese”, as the bishop tells us. Until recently, however, “going out” meant quite literally “walking on foot” since many parishes could only be reached this way, even though it involved hours of walking.
Not surprisingly, Bishop Andrew Nkea brought this problem to ACN and asked our help. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to help him buy a suitable vehicle. Now the vehicle has finally arrived and, in solemnly handing over the ignition key to his priests and pastoral workers, the bishop urged them to redouble their pastoral zeal. At the same time he expressed his “gratitude for the great generosity of the benefactors and for this wonderful and invaluable pastoral gift”.