Participating in Positive Change

Agendia Aloysius' line of duty

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Celebrating the prophecy of the Miracle In The Forest in Lebialem and Africa

Celebrating the prophecy of The Miracle in the Forest in Lebialem and Africa

When I watched the 25-minute documentary title Miracle in the Forest and translated into Nweh (main language spoken in Lebialem, a division located in South west Province Cameroon and seat of the Focolare Movement in Africa) as Anu mbong Ambin, I was touched among several things by one sentence. This was the advised Madam Chiara (Mafua Ndem) founder and late President of the Focolare Movement gave to her first team to Lebialem led by which arrived Lebialem in the mid sixties. “Do not only preach the word of God but, live it, even for at least, the first six months”. The head of the team was Marilen Holzhauser. She lived in  Fontem for  15 years.she died in 1986

The development brought by the Focolare Movement to Fontem in particular and Lebialem in general, as a result of the implementation of this advice, cannot be overemphasized. The summarized positive developments below, could as well be classified in several categories among which is religion, health, education, roads and infrastructure, employment etc. These developments have been referred to as the miracle in this area which was considered a dead-end to many; thick tropical virgin forest.

Celebrating Mafua Ndem Chiara Lubich come January 2009 in Fontem-Cameroon-Central Africa, is like reflecting on the teachings of this woman who has changed the world through her teachings. The Focolare Movement is found in over 120 countries world wide. As Chiara always reiterated, we have to work towards making a UNITED WORLD. Though making a “united” world as such may sound utopic, efforts of the Focolare Movement in bringing together people from different countries, religion , races to talk, think and work together is worthy of praise. This is equally why Pope Benedict XVI described Chiara on the occasion of the latter’s death in March 2008, as “a woman of faith and a living example”. We are therefore celebrating that Chiara Lubich (Mafua Ndem) has gone to join our ancestors to continue working for development in Lebialem, Africa and the World as a whole.

In 1966, she came to Lebialem and in May 2000, she made the second and last physical trip to Fontem. I called it physical because she has always been in Lebialem and africa spiritually. During one of her lectures in Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, Fontem, (A college created by the Focolare Movement ) Chiara said “you cannot just teach the word of God by telling people to go in peace, because, if people are hungry, you must give them something to eat before preaching the word of God to them.”…… “In the course of helping them, you will make many ask themselves what motivated your actions. When they come to understand that it was the desire for mutual and human love irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity they will be deeply touched and will forever remain faithful and committed disciples of love”. 

As pop star Michael Jackson sings in one of his songs, though we can question his practicability, if you care about mankind and the living, then make the world a better place for people to live, irrespective of race, religion, sex.

Pope John Paul II, said we have to build bridges and not walls. He was referring to the exploitation of developing countries and paradoxical closing of frontiers and in some cases encouraging acts of racism in some developed where people from developing countries are going en-mass for “better lives”

Building bridges is what the Focolare movement is based on, and what they have practiced, though as any human organisation, they have their own short comings. I do not mean bridges base on irrational immigration but bridges meant for the helping of one another.


The Focolare Movement came to Lebialem at a time when the place was facing untold health difficulties. The health sector was devastating, infant mortality was over 80 percent but it has been brought to less then 1 percent according to DR Philemon. This same medical doctor attests to the fact that a treatment protocol against sleeping sickness was developed in Lebialem which is now being used world wide with very minimal side effects. Source: interview Miracle in the Forest 

The Mary Health of Africa General Hospital was created. The hospital has become a reference across Cameroon with people in major cities like Douala, Yaoundé and Bamenda coming to Fontem for treatment. The first doctors like Lucio and Nica did a formidable job which is being relayed by current health staff. The hospital however, needs more specialist in various fields.

Apart from the other health centre in Fonjumetaw, there is the urgent need for the Focolare to extend its heath services to other parts of Lebialem.

Besides being in good health, education is also another vital point in human development. The creation of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College made it easy for many Lebialem sons to go school. Initially in the 60s and 70s, the lucky ones used to trek over 700 kilometres to Buea to attend school(Saint Joseph College Sasse).

The Focolare Movement through the Catholic Church also operates several Catholic primary schools in Lebialem and its contribution to human development cannot be underestimated. The economic crisis which hit Cameroon in the 90s led to the closure of several Catholic schools too.

If you go to Lebialem ask who “Fr John the road” is. Most of those above 30 or those who have read any literature about the Lebialem will immediately know the person. Though a priest whose principal mission is preaching, Fr John W´s involvement and determination to make sure that motorable roads get to Lebialem, earned him the name John the road. Of course he succeeded and today Lebialem is linked with roads though they remain highly seasonal.
Lebialem now hosts some building like the Saint Claire Catholic Church, Mariapolis Centre, Mary Health of Africa General Hospital etc which are outstanding. So many sons and daughters of Lebialem have also come to construct home. The presence of two mobile phones companies in Lebialem is directly or indirectly connected to the presence of the Focolare Movement and their activities which have attracted quite a good number of people to stay in Lebialem.


Light and water
Lebialem also hosts a giant power plant which generates electricity that is used for the activities of the Movement. The free water supply of the Movement to some public areas cannot be under estimated.
Placing religion at this point does not in any way mean it is less important. ( I’m very Catholic myself) The creation of Youths for a United World and Gen groups spread across the world is essential for building more united world for the love of mankind. Though a Roman Catholic organisation, the strength of the Focolare Movement has been its appeal for the love of mankind cut across different religions, races and nationalities.


Through the creation of several enterprising centres like Carpentry, building, mechanic and maintenance garage, schools hospital etc, several people have gained employment through which they sustain and educate their children and families

Lebialem, which in the 60 s was plagued with diseases and untold suffering is very different now; healthy and waxing strong. Some people even thought it would be erased but far from that Lebialem is now dream place welcoming so many people from different horizons.

It will be unfortunate to say the miracle which took place in Lebialem could have been happened without the collaboration of Lebialem people. They have been very cooperative.


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