Cameroon orphanage founder to speak at Redeemer, Morristown

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Sister Jane Mankaa, founder of the Good Shepherd Home in Cameroon, will preach at the 8 and 10:30 a.m. services and lead the 9 a.m. adult forum on Sunday at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 36 South St., Morristown.

Sister Jane Mankaa with one of the children at the Good Shepherd Home she founded in Cameroon.

Mankaa will speak about the orphanage, which houses more than 100 children and serves many more in the larger community, and will share her plans to create a clinic to address the health needs of the children in the village. The clinic will be named after a deceased parishioner, Roberto Rovere, who was one of the first at Redeemer to support its partnership with the Good Shepherd Home.

The Good Shepherd Home for Children is located in the North West Province of Cameroon, an area in West Africa where an estimated 50,000 children are orphaned. Sr. Jane never turns a child away, and no child is placed for adoption. The children live in a loving family environment with a hundred brothers and sisters.

Sometimes villagers summon Mankaa to a house where seven or eight orphaned children live with their grandmother, asking if some can move to Good Shepherd. “It’s always difficult to know which ones to take,” she said in a 2008 interview with the Episcopal News Service. “We take the most fragile ones.”

Some babes arrive days or months old after their mother dies. Good Shepherd’s first baby, Benedict, moved in at 9 days old.

The Good Shepherd Home – named after a Lutheran congregation in Parsippany – opened its doors in 2003 and really began taking off in 2005, Mankaa said. The complex at that time boasted several buildings, with more to come, many named after sponsoring Episcopal congregations in the Diocese of Newark or individual benefactors.

Church of the Redeemer used ministry to Good Shepherd to reenergize its outreach. In 2007, then-rector the Rev. Phillip Wilson and six parishioners visited Cameroon to look over a proposed water project – but also to connect with the community in Africa.

“What Sister Jane did was really incorporated us in the life of her community,” Wilson recalled. “We were taken into the inside to see how people lived and see how people struggle with next to nothing.”

Back home, he said, “the parish took total ownership of our visit.” The congregation launched a Water for Life Project, ultimately raising twice the $40,000 needed. The additional funds helped complete a school. Through its Food for Life program, parishioners provided monthly food support for the children.

Redeemer parishioners returned for a second visit in 2009.

 

 

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