The Pope John Paul 11 Foundation who have been for the 25 years have followed their charism for the development of the poor to be self-sufficient. As the name implies, was virtually set up by Pope John Paul 11's initiative to enable others help the very needy of the Sahel region where the desert is becoming a threat and it is seen by example how it is affecting the lot that live in those areas. This was observed during his visit to these areas to ascertain the situation by himself. CaDo (Catholic Development Office) the main custodians of the JP 11 Foundation recounts how the Foundation has helped communities and individuals and how it continues to help the needy and the communities themselves echoed their sentiment during their 25th anniversary's Open Day Celebration of their Foundation's existence.
During the Open Day celebration of the 25th anniversary of JP11 Foundation, invited guests came around as articles made by some of the beneficiaries were on display at the GPI grounds. Articles were viewed by the lot and manifestation took place in the Fr. Comer Hall. At the end, people bought items of their choice ranging from fish, clothes, baby dresses, food items and more.
During the occasion, Anna William said she had finished her second third term on the board of the JP 11 Foundation but she was nominated again to stay another term. She reminded the gathering of the 25th anniversary of the Foundation. "We must uplift ourselves and break the circle of poverty, which the Foundation is here for," she said.
Bishop Ellison CSSp. reiterated that not many people are aware of the benefits of the Foundation in the country. He said people should be made to know about its benefits. He noted that the Catholic Church is compounded with lots of activities, from one event to another. In a joke he said, "I am tempted to make September a free month where no activity is carried on," he said.
Bishop Ellison CSSp noted that the group should not bring him ten projects to be looked through for approval within a short period. "Sometime I may not have the idea. Last year we sent ten projects four were approved 2 rejected and the other two to rethink. The structure of the JP 11 Foundation is well put in place and well organized. There are nine bishops from each member country. 12, 500 Euro is given and it sounds small but for a little village work it is something. The money comes from the German Bishops' Conference and the Italian Bishops' Conference. The Bishops of the Sahelian countries are the managers of this money. The beneficiaries are diverse and does not think about religion, everyone benefits," he said.
Project Report: The chairman of the occasion, Sang Gomez, the project Coordinator was glad to call on the beneficiaries and said "they can do it more its is only to give them more support in their interest areas," he said.
Sr. Cecilia reported on the Mary Poultry Project at Brikama. She said they had one at Serrekunda but it was disturbed by the NAWEC Water Tank and so they were transferred to Brikama. They had improved their production, which is increasing steadily. She said chicken feed is expensive and requires honest and hard working members. "The feed comes from Dakar and are quite expensive. We are told government will import these soon. We used to buy it D50 per bag but now it is about D800. Hotels too are not paying in time. They go for break for six months, meaning we get no sales for six months. She asked those present to come to Brikama and buy their eggs.
Pig Farmers Association: John Cardos narrated their history and said they were about building place for pig sale at St. Peter's that has been approved by the Bishop.
Sanyang Fishing Project: Represented by Peter Jababng, said the Sanyang Christian Youth Society was established 2003, it has about 100 males and fifty females. "When we got the money, we were afraid to sign for the money. Who could sign, no body wanted to be there. But we later did and got the money. Our first catch was given our freely as charity. We received our first cheque on 14th July 2008, which facilitated our getting a boat. We later got the nets and started fishing in earnest. We have done it in four months and we have about 16, 000 Dalasis kept aside in our account.
William E. Mendy, one of the recipient's of the JP11 Foundation's Scholarship, talked about poverty and how the scholarship has helped him to help better his family life. "Training alone cannot provide housing for ones family neither feed them. My education has offered me more opportunities in life. The Ministry of Education is emulating from our initiative, which is a good sign. We need to train our youth if we should rely on self-reliance. The diocese needs to build the capacity in all fields. CaDo cannot maintain our cars alone cars are taken to other mechanics because they do not have trained personnel to do it. There is a dial need for training. If we had sponsored youth to study mechanics then put them in these areas we could boast of self-reliance to the full, " he said.
He recommended that the diocese make haste to support students in Auto Mechanics, Wood Work, and more relevant areas. "There is a dial need for youths to train. Our secretary at the office became an accountant, when we lost our Accountant. The secretary later did a course in accounting and qualified in the area. On the job training helped her a lot before qualifying. We have only three trained nurses so far. But remember when you train them you pay them well then they will not run for greener pastures.
Francis Mendy, the Project Manager, commended women for doing well in projects. He named areas doing quite well under women. He stressed sustainable education.
Many clarifications were made and questions asked and answered. Ustice Cassel, a recipient of JP11 Scholarship now the Director of CCF gave the vote of thanks.