Part of our History: The story of a friendship with the Bagyeli in the Cameroons

A new community

When she visited again in 1953, Little sister Magdeleine had already made the plan for a new community.

When Pam died, his wife and children grew more and more close to us and we often shared in their life of hunting and fishing. It was they who initiated us into their daily work in the forest, their customs and their language. They often came to our place, above all when they were ill, as they had no one to look after them. Only in 1977 were we able to find work in the village dispensary which made our access to our friends, the Bagyeli easier. As for the village-people they were also happy for a little sister to work there.

1970 Bipindi1970 Bipindi

The more our knowledge of their language increased the more we became conscious of their suffering at being marginalized and of not being considered as human beings because of their life-style in the heart of the forest. One day as we were praying the rosary together Eda, a grandmother voiced her prayer from her heart. She prayed for priests, for widows, for orphans, for schoolchildren and then for the little sisters. Then these were her words:

‘Since the little sisters came here to Bipindi, people have come to realize that the Pygmies are not animals of the forest but human persons with intelligence and a soul. May God keep the little sisters from all illness and all evil.’

When it was the thirtieth anniversary of the foundation of our Community in Bipindi, in thanksgiving and joy we invited all our friends to come and to celebrate God's goodness to us. At the time of the general intercessions one of them put it this way:

‘Why are we the last, when it was we who before any other tribe, opened the way to civilization by cutting down the forest in order to clear a way to the sea?’

And another prayed:

‘The villagers say that God does not recognize the Bagyeli and that the Bagyeli do not  recognize God, yet the little sisters were sent to us and not to them.’

1983 Bipindi1983 Bipindi

The feeling of God's presence in their lives, as a father, is very profound and alive. They say prayers to Him which come from the bottom of their heart, always addressing Him as ‘papa God' and beginning by thanking Him before making any request. These prayers come from their heart in every circumstance of life, especially in times of danger. One of them said:

‘When a storm overtakes us in the forest and branches from the trees are falling around us, if we get back to the camp safe and sound do not you think that it was God who was looking after us?  He looks after us much better than He does those who live beside the road!’

1983 Bipindi Nkwa-Lisen in her Baptism dress1983 Bipindi Nkwa-Lisen in her Baptism dress 1983 Preparing the meal1983 Preparing the meal

They go in search of food in the forest every day but they are never anxious for the next day. Quite easily they will say: ‘God will provide.’