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

Kribi and Ngovayang

It was in fact events like these which led us to seeing that after 46 years of presence in Bipindi maybe the time for clearing the ground was completed. Should we go and look elsewhere for other groups of Bagyeli so as to leave those in Bipindi the possibility of organizing themselves with the NGO's who had the right qualifications and techniques to bring about their development? That is how we came to say our goodbyes to Bipindi, not without a lot of emotion on either side!

1985 Bipindi1985 Bipindi

We then began a small community in Kribi, getting in touch with the camps round about. These Pygmees were living a very precarious situation. Their environment had been wiped out by exploitation of the forests and industrial plantations.

We lived for 3 years in Kribi then one day a doctor from the Cameroons, who was an old friend, shared with us his preoccupation for the health of the people in the forest who he saw disappearing because of the lack of elementary health-care. Several children had died from measles. They belonged to families we knew well. There was also outbreaks of TB from which many die. Our doctor friend was of the opinion that if we went and settled in Ngovayang, those who were sick could be cared for by hospital personnel which is supported by Me Mundi of Spain. We could then help by welcoming them and their families.

Ngovayang, We live as a CommunityNgovayang, We live as a Community

Ngovayang is only 30 kms away from Bipindi and all the Bagyeli know this hospital well. With the agreement of the Bishop we found a little house and moved in.

We had barely got settled when visitors started to arrive. An old friend who was very ill came from a long distance away with his wife and children. Others followed soon afterwards and as numbers increased we looked for help to assure this welcome. A Bagyeli couple now live with us and they invite those who accompany the sick to work in the fields and produce the food needed for their stay.

It is true that welcoming so many of our Bagyeli friends requires more little sisters especially if we want to continue going into the forest and spend some time there. In fact we look out for every chance to go and stay in their settlements and live with them for a while.

Ngovayang, We can enjoy the hospital surroundingsNgovayang, We can enjoy the hospital surroundings

With the return of Andrea Lie from Vietnam and Lucia Gum Ja from Korea and little sisters from France, Italy and Spain we are quite international. There is also Nathalie Flora, a young professed little sister from the Cameroons who works at the hospital's pharmacy where she has a lot of contacts. This helps us remain open to the villagers.

It was Little sister Magdeleine herself who confided this forest-people to us in January 1952. Since then we have tried not to abandon them.

We wanted to share with you about our Bagyeli friends, about the treasure that they are. We have lived with them a life given to Jesus, wanting to be with them a pathway to Him, a Gospel which we cry with the whole of our lives so as to be a sign of the love of God for each one.

1985 Bipindi, Planting and collecting food together1985 Bipindi, Planting and collecting food together

On one of her visits Little sister Annie said:

‘To stay strong and rooted in the lives of those who face so many difficulties and not to despair in the face of evil, you have to be like the mighty trees of the forest, rooted solidly in the earth but keeping your head in the sky above.’