Cameroon, Climate Change and Cassava

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On June 21st – the longest day and possibly the warmest of evenings, Fr Cornelius Safe gave a talk in the parish Centre of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Redditch, about the beautiful land of his birth, Cameroon.  Fr Cornelius, who is studying for his MA at Maryvale and is helping in Mount Carmel parish, told us what a beautiful country Cameroon is, but, because of various problems the country is experiencing, life is not always easy. The country is about twice the size of the UK with a population of about twenty million, less than a third of that of the UK.  Life expectancy is about fifty-four years, and the country is 153/188 on the UN’s Human Development index.  The literacy rate is 75%, with a marked difference between male and female literacy.  The majority of the population depend on agriculture for a living.

Fr Cornelius explained that corruption is a severe problem in Cameroon, and that several Catholic bishops have been killed recently for standing against it.  He also told us that the land on which so many of his people depend is being affected by Climate Change, and particularly by de-forestation.  This means that the land is more liable to mud-slides, and therefore not enough food is being grown.  Various charities are working in the country, but the endemic corruption means that major charities are not welcome.

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Following on from Fr Cornelius’ presentation, and in particular his references to climate change, Jim Quinn of the parish CAFOD group gave a short talk on CAFOD’s latest campaign, ‘Power to Be’. This focuses on the benefits of bringing clean energy into the Developing World, enabling better educational provision in rural areas, which in turn allows children to develop the skills to help them achieve their potential and dreams of a better life. Parishioners took away with them cards calling on the UK’s representative at the World Bank to try and ensure the bank increases funding on renewable energy projects in developing countries. For more information on the campaign go to http://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Power-to-be/Energy-campaign

The evening finished with everyone enjoying the delicious Cameroonian food which Fr Cornelius had prepared, including plantains, semolina, chicken, pork and rice.  Thank you very much for a most enjoyable and interesting evening, Father!

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