Living Hope Newsletter – May 2019

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Drinking Water for Cameroon

Many communities in both rural and urban Cameroon lack access to clean drinking water. In rural areas of Cameroon, less than half of the population have access to safe water, with some having to walk miles to access clean water.

Rivers are vital to everyday life in Cameroon— they are used to wash clothes and for livestock. Yet the same water is used for drinking, making the rivers a source of disease and sickness. In response, the Claretians in Cameroon have established numerous water projects in the communities they serve. Projects include providing safe water in areas where water is accessible but contaminated, and access in areas where there is a water shortage.

One particular village where the Claretians minister is Munyenge Parish. The parish is located along the foothills of Mount Fako. The terrain is so rough that traveling by car is extremely difficult, making access to water a real problem. In order to access water, villagers had to walk 30 minutes in each direction.

In addition, parishioners also struggled with electricity shortages.

When the Claretians arrived in Munyenge Parish, they sank a borehole into the ground in order to extract water. To solve the problem of the electricity shortages, the Claretians helped install a generator to pump the water.

The Claretians know that they cannot eliminate all issues associated with contaminated water in Cameroon. Yet their efforts have made a significant difference for their parishioners—as well as the surrounding villages.

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Claretians in Cameroon

The Claretian Missionaries from Canada and the USA first arrived in Cameroon in the 1970s and eventually established their official presence in the 1980s. Forty years later, the Claretians continue their religious ministry in 18 parishes. To date, there are nearly 150 Claretians, made up of priests and seminarians, that serve in Cameroon.

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Schooling for Intertribal Living in Ziro

Ziro has a population of 12,000, including members of 20 different nomadic tribes. A remote town that lies near the Himalayan foothills and is considered to be on the geographical margins of eastern India, Ziro is also home to a leading educational institution— St. Claret College.

The Claretian Missionaries established St. Claret College in 2003. Over the course of sixteen years, St. Claret has grown to become the only accredited undergraduate school in the region. It has produced nearly 100 scholars and earned multiple awards for its service to higher education and social commitment.

Students flock to St. Claret College from all over eastern India, many coming from remote villages 25–50 miles away. “Given the distance and the lack of public transportation, it would be impossible for these students to realize their dream of higher education without residential facilities on campus,” explains Fr. Paulson Veliyannoor, C.M.F., former principal and current faculty member at the college. The college has a total student population of 760 with 200 residing in the campus’ two dorms; the remainder commuting on a daily basis.

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The dorms encourage intertribal living, which is significant, as Ziro is home to 20 major nomadic tribes, many of whom have had past intertribal conflict. “The (dorm) life has facilitated a greater capacity and appreciation for the difference and uniqueness of one another and thereby realizing healthy intertribal living,” explains Fr. Veliyannoor.

The dorms also provide a space for women to study without conflicting with local traditions. “Without providing residential facilities, it would be difficult to encourage young women to care for academics and realize their empowerment,” says Fr. Veliyannoor.

Everyday life in the dorms include morning and evening prayers, dedicated study hours, gardening, games and recreation, and mandatory TV news time. Students also attend monthly conferences and special movie screenings aimed at enhancing inner spiritual life and interpersonal relationships.

The majority of students are poor, and so fees are made affordable for all students and families. Residential and academic scholarships are also offered to help offset the costs.

The college has no governmental funding and depends solely on fees and fundraising. Fr. Veliyannoor’s plans for growth include funding on-campus medical facilities, a food court, banking ATM facilities, additional resources for scholarships and aid to offset dorm costs.

“The Claretians hope that with God’s Providence and the generous assistance of various agencies, more and better facilities can be provided,” exclaims Fr. Veliyannoor, “So that optimal academic and human formation can result on campus, for a better human society.”