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

New beginnings:

As time went by we saw how important it would be for the Bagyeli children to go to school. Little sister Magdeleine had been concerned about this right from the start, but it was only in 1968 that this dream became a reality. It was the children themselves who begged the little sisters to take them to school.

1985 Bipindi, outside our house1985 Bipindi, outside our house

That was how the Sisters of the Assumption came to agree to come to Bipindi to take the education of the children in charge. They arrived in Bipindi on 4 August 1971 and were there for 20 years. It is thanks to them that a whole generation of boys and girls were formed to take charge themselves of the development of their people.

1985 Bipindi, Preparing food1985 Bipindi, Preparing food

1995 saw the arrival in Bipindi of various NGO's. Thanks to their help, our friends were able to set-up their own association for development. Thus the CODEBANK was born. It is a committee for the development of the Bagyeli of Bipindi and Kribi. These NGO's take charge of the finance and technology so that the people are able to organize themselves in order to change their situation to leave behind their misery and isolation.

1985 Bipindi1985 Bipindi

After all these years of sharing life with the Bagyeli, we witness these new beginnings with wonder. These people so long marginalized, exploited and decimated by all kinds of illnesses and persecutions which could have led to the belief that their tribe would die, are now seen to be regaining confidence in themselves!

On the cultural level and helped by the International Linguistic Society we have been able, with their help, to put their language into writing. This has led to giving new value to their culture with its wealth of stories and sayings. We also helped them to translate into their language psalms and prayers as well as the Gospel of St. Mark. They can now hear the Word of God in their own language. Though all these phases they have become aware of their dignity as children of God. They sang this when they went to Douala in 1985 to welcome Pope John Paul II who visited Cameroon for the first time:

‘If the Bagyeli have heard the Word of God they cannot move backwards but only forwards and so have a wonderful place at God's side.’

1985 Bipindi1985 Bipindi

It is this journey over all these years which has allowed them to acquire the necessary assurance to take their rightful place in the Cameroon of today, which is their country.