More than 40 years ago, the then Archbishop of Portsmouth Diocese, Derek Worlock, forged a link with a small community in Cameroon, West Africa.
This community is Bamenda and the link continues today.
Over the past 40-plus years, many priests from the Portsmouth Diocese have served in Bamenda.
Sadly, due to declining numbers of priests, these days we have no priests in Bamenda.
But we are blessed to have six Bamenda priests serving in the Portsmouth Diocese.
The people of Bamenda are very poor.
At one time there was no running water, and a project which my own parish of St. Joseph’s, in Copnor supported to help provide a pipeline to the villages.
We have also helped a project to provide food for prisoners who were surviving on a quarter of a child’s portion of rice a day.
In 2014, we were pleased to welcome a delegation of 32 priests and parishioners from Bamenda to the Portsmouth Diocese, with visits to many parishes and schools.
Our Bishop, Philip and the Archbishop of Bamenda, Cornelius came on several of the visits and cemented an already strong friendship built from previous visits to Bamenda.
Earlier this year, I was asked to head up a new venture – a group called Portsmouth Friends of Bamenda.
We wish to involve all parishes in the Portsmouth pastoral area, St. John’s Cathedral, St. Swithun’s with Our Lady of Lourdes, Southsea, St. Colman’s with St. Paul’s in Cosham as well as my own parish of Corpus Christi with St. Joseph and local schools attached to these parishes.
We will be a support and fund-raising group.
Several people recently attended a meeting where we decided we would like our first project to be raising funds for the many disabled and deaf and dumb children in Bamenda.
Many of these children not only live with their disabilities but are often orphans.
On Saturday, March 5 we are holding a table-top sale.
This will be at St Joseph’s church hall, in Tangier Road, Copnor between 10am and 12.30pm.
Refreshments will be available and there will also hopefully be face painting and a balloon man.
Please come along and join us to raise money for these unfortunate children.
To find out more about the group, go to bamendaandportsmouth.com/