Sister Jane Mankaa grew up in Bafut, Cameroon the eldest of eight children. She lived with her parents and siblings in one room equipped with three beds made from bamboo and a dirt floor.
Her story is similar to other women growing up in sub-Saharan Africa but somehow Sister Jane found a way to improve not only her own life but the lives of countless others.
At 16 years old she declared to her father that she would join a religious order. Her father refused her insisting that such a life would yield no bond, no children and no brideswealth. In defiance, Sister Jane left her family and joined the contemplative Sisters of Emmanuel.
During her residence with the sisters, the AIDS epidemic began spiraling out of control and the effects of extreme poverty hit Cameroon hard. A generation of parents was lost and 1,000,000 children were orphaned. Sister Jane found these children on the street and decided she would dedicate her life to helping them.
When asked why, Sister Jane says she was touched by some internal power that would ultimately allow her to leave the safety of her life in the convent and take in 43 children to care for as her own.
With donations and micro businesses, Sister Jane built The Good Shepherd Home. She pays the children’s school fees, feeds and clothes them and has created a family unlike any other.
This family of children and adults that Sister Jane has brought together hold a tremendously powerful bond. They care for one another, help one another and love each other with all of their being.
Sister Jane’s desires do not end with the 43 children she cares for now. Her dream is to build a boarding school on the premises just for orphaned children. For in Cameroon, despite the government’s promises, orphaned children cannot attend school unless they have sponsorship for uniforms, books and other incidental fees. Too many children have no hope of education and must work every day just to feed themselves.
Sister Jane provides and enormous service to the citizens of Cameroon. She understands that by building such a place she can advance the lives of so many children and by so doing will her country too.