Sister Paula recounts, through the eyes of the Sisters of Charity, the situation in Gabon, west-central Africa, a country rich in natural resources but unable to find its own autonomy, weakened by centuries of injury and exploitation.

Forests as a resource

Sister Paola speaks of Gabon as an equatorial forest country, a threatened resource, and a resource that was also discussed in the capital Libreville at the “One forest” summit with French President Macron and other heads of state.

The country’s resources, however, from timber to oil to magnesium, do not give much to the poorest part of the country, but, Sister Paula says, “create harm. The words of Pope Francis, who said on his recent trip, “hands off from Africa“, remain in Sister Neloumta’s heart.

The Sisters of Charity

In Gabon, le Suore della Carità sono presenti sia all’interno di una scuola materna e primaria, sia nella Caritas parrocchiale e diocesana. Si rendono conto, perciò, in prima persona del disagio della popolazione, specchio della crisi economica. Le difficoltà del Paese incombono sulle spalle delle famiglie.

In Gabon, the Sisters of Charity are present both within a kindergarten and elementary school and in parish and diocesan Caritas. They realize with their own eyes the distress of the population, a mirror of the economic crisis. The country’s difficulties are weighing on the shoulders of families.

One of Sister Paula’s concerns is that the country’s crisis is providing fertile ground for the proliferation of sects, which lure young people with false promises. The sisters try to counter this phenomenon by standing by the young people, helping them, through animation, to learn manual jobs, to struggle against problems, without becoming discouraged. The sisters’ attention is thus focused in youth ministry service.

Social and economic inequalities

Finally, Sister Neloumta recounts the country’s great divide between rich and poor.

Since the withdrawal of the French, Gabon has been weakened, leaving room for other types of exploitation by foreign interests. What is needed, she says, is to have a government that cares about the good of the country.

To read the article in Vatican News click here.