Mission Diary. Chad. Listen, accompany and educate

After years spent outside your country, it is not easy to adapt. “I struggle to recognize some things that have changed over time.” Sr. Benjamine Kimala Nanga, a Comboni Sister from Chad, explains to us why it is so.

Since I began my journey with the Comboni Missionaries, 22 years have passed in which I have always lived outside Chad, the country where I was born. After my initial formation, which I did in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I did my novitiate in Kenya, spent some time in formation in Spain and in recent years I have lived in Peru.

Now my congregation has asked me to do a service in the community that the Comboni Missionaries have in Sarh, in the south of Chad, and I am struggling to find my place. I have become used to living with a different style, both from an environmental point of view and in terms of social and ecclesial relations, and now I have to readjust to my country after two decades abroad.

I’m experiencing that syndrome that we missionaries often go through when we return to our country after living away for a long time and we struggle to recognize some things that have changed over time. Just like when I was sent to other places, I try to see, hear and stay silent to better absorb reality.

However, the job that has been entrusted to me to accompany a group of 20 university students that we welcome into our home does not allow me to feel too calm. I am continually asked to intervene, encourage, support and make decisions. Relationships between girls are not always easy. Although they are all Chadian, they come from very different places and have different backgrounds. I feel that I must be present to listen, accompany and educate.

We only have one dormitory for them, which sometimes causes some small conflicts due to coexistence issues that force me to intervene. Sometimes I also have to help them learn to manage their time well and make the most of their abilities. They have a certain tendency to get distracted by matters that aren’t entirely important, so I’m forced to call them out. In this way, making mistakes on more than one occasion, I am learning to manage the group.

When I go out to visit the villages and parishes, some girls ask me to welcome them into our centre and it grieves my heart to have to say no. The space and resources at our disposal are limited and increasing the number of girls would be detrimental to the education we want to give them. During my years in Peru, I worked in human trafficking prevention programs and was constantly moving throughout the country.

Even though I am more stable here, in some ways my current service is not very different from what I did in Peru. Even in my country, girls are very vulnerable and are often the victims of trafficking. Welcoming a group of girls into this centre and offering them education is a very concrete way to prevent this scourge. In addition to my work at the women’s centre, I am starting to deal with vocational orientation and various missionary animation services.

We are about to organize a vocational camp which will take place in the city of Mundu. Young people will come from all over the country, despite the many transportation difficulties we have in Chad. We are currently visiting the villages and parishes in our area to encourage young people’s participation. The camp is a logistical and organizational challenge, but I am convinced that it will be worth it. Being part of the preparation team is helping me to gradually enter the reality that the young people of my country are experiencing.

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