A Letter From Ivory Coast
Hello Fr. Des,My Missionary Vocation started in 1967 when I arrived in the former Upper Volta, now called Borkina Fasso, where I stayed, where I stayed for 15 years. Then I went to Niger, near the Sahara desert, and stayed for 2 years. Then I arrived in the Ivory Coast, where I have stayed for 8 years-27 years in all!
As you know, Ivory Coast is a French speaking country in West Africa. We are running a secondary school with 450 girl students. I teach English as a second language. We have no problem regarding discipline and work because their future lies in the success of their studies. The majority of our students are animists. The rest are Muslims and Christians.
Last Eater Sunday, we had baptism for adults including marriages, confirmation and First Holy Communion. The couples received all these sacraments at the same time. The Mass lasted for four hours in the midst of African songs and drums.As to the government, we have the democratic system. The present president is the second since the independence from France in 1961. Economically, the country is rich in coffee, coconuts and rubber plantations. Fishing is well developed. However the ‘Big Powers’, especially Japan and China, are sucking out the country’s wealth as in the case of the other Third World countries – the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. There are few foreign missionaries here since native women congregations exist and we now have a lot of local diocesan priests. In 1995, we celebrated one hundred years of Christianization by the First French priest missionaries.
How did the missions change me? I have learned to live with black and white people and I am able to survive with the basic necessities in life, in the absence of comfort. I have learned to adjust to a simple lifestyle and a different mentality.
Love for the African people and being loved by them has changed my way of living and loving.
Sr. Maria Isabel
BP 156, Dalao, Cote d Ivoire