“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
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The Apostolic Vicariate of Bomadi is in the south of Nigeria, in the Niger Delta region. Unlike in the North of the country, Islam does not play a significant role in this area. The majority of the population still follow traditional African religions, although many people are very open to the Good News of the Gospel, which is helping to liberate them from their fear of evil spirits and witchcraft. But the work of the Church is not easy, since this is a region of deep poverty, with very little infrastructure such as roads and little access to clean drinking water, basic medical care or electricity.
Most of the people manage to scrape a meager living from fishing or subsistence farming, and given the myriad of different waterways in the Niger Delta, many of the villages can only be reached by river. Despite the massive oil reserves in the region, ordinary people have gained little or nothing from the oil exploitation and production. On the contrary, the oil production has caused extensive pollution of the waterways and the people have to live with the consequences. Infant mortality is higher here than in other regions of the country.
The work of the religious Sisters in the region is bringing great blessings. They teach the children and help the poorest families in their need. At the same time, many of the Sisters, who come from other regions of Nigeria, are fearful of traveling by boat to these remote villages, since they have no experience of these waterways and are often unable to swim.
In 2012, Bishop Egbebo, the apostolic vicar, founded the new Congregation of Our Lady Star of the Sea, which especially aims to promote vocations from within the territory of the vicariate itself. These local women are familiar with the challenges of the Delta region and are therefore well-equipped to travel out to these remote villages where the people need their help.
As a result of the pandemic, the Sisters themselves have fallen on hard times, since many of them, who formerly taught in the schools, now no longer receive any wages. This was previously the principal source of income for the community. Now they barely have enough for their own daily needs, while at the same time their expenses are rising, since they also have to purchase disinfectants and personal protective equipment in order to prevent the spread of the virus and enable them to continue working among the people while at the same time protecting themselves and others.
ACN is committing to helping the Sisters with a contribution of $6,700 for the support of their life and ministry.
Will you join in supporting these religious Sisters as they struggle to minister to children and the poor in Nigeria?
We are sure they will remember you in their grateful prayers.
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