Little Sisters of Jesus in Cameroon, Bright ideas!

The communityThe community

I had it in my head to try my hand at some sort of craft work to help earn our living.

Waiting outside the hospitalWaiting outside the hospital

Previously one of us had worked at the hospital but there was never the money to pay the salaries so we decided to try something else!

We were given a store of old candles from the parish in Yaoundi so I started to think how I could make molds to make new candles. I tried first with water pipes which were too thick to saw. Then a neighbouring garage owner gave me a pipe from a lorry made of aluminium which was easier to cut and I picked up some tricks of how to solder a base for my molds from some men who are making saucepans out of old car motors! Then another friend gave me the idea of quite simply using old cans of all sizes found in the dustbins!

Now I can hardly keep up with the orders.This year I made 375 Pascal candles, and over 100 altar candles and i have just finished 2000 small candles. My trade needs both patience and time and often one of the other Little sisters gives me a hand with decoration using acrylic paint. I use about 800 kilos of paraffin each year.

I must admit that the job not only has given me a lot of satisfaction but also enables me to meet many other local craftspeople and share ideas together. I like the aspect of 'using things that are thrown away', and try not to give embarass my sisters when I look in the rubbish bins for cans...!

I have also been busy and put a lot of energy into setting up some bee hives. While in Bafang I had followed a course. My teacher was formed in a modern school of bee keeping which is quite rare here as many use traditional methods. We bought an extractor and I can now manage the whole process from beginning to end. From three hives we got 50 kilos of honey.

I like this quote from Jean Vanier:

'It is always good to try and understand better one small area in the vast world of human knowledge which is a reflection of our immense universe. If we deepen with our intelligence one small area be it how to grow a potato or how to understand better a word of scripture, in either case we encounter a mystery. If we explore deeply with our mind we cannot but enter into a world full of marvels, a world of contemplation. When with my mind I touch the light of God hidden at the heart of all things and of all beings I renew my whole person.'

Yes I have discovered that it is my whole person that is renewed when I work in my tiny workshop of two metres by four, where I can pass through my hands what I have in my head. To tell you the truth my head works quicker than my hands and this means that I can share my ideas with others: making incense and making the coals for the incense from the sap of local trees, making toilet soap using aloevera which sells very well.

With the prisoners we have started making healing black stones and also rosaries. the beads are are from grains and the cross in coconut. Let us continue sharing our ideas as between us, in all our communities in Africa, there is a store of good ideas and of local wisdom!

Bursting with new life!Bursting with new life!