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It was another rainy morning at the Vincentian missionary house. A puddle was forming on the kitchen floor from the rain. The cook struggled to keep the fire alive on the floor of the kitchen. The priests moved their chairs to keep the rainwater from disturbing their breakfast. The cook looked down to avoid seeing the missionaries’ sad faces. The two Vincentian missionaries couldn’t imagine another rainy season in this shanty of a kitchen. Fr. Cyril Mbata,C.M., provincial superior of Nigeria wrote a letter of support, dated July 28, 2020: “In my last discussions with Fr. Jeremiah Agada, C.M. and Fr. Princewill Uche, C.M., they complained about the nature of their kitchen which is so dilapidated and has become impossible to make use of whenever it rains. This has become a matter of concern and needs urgent attention…. I request that you use your good office to assist the Province of Nigeria, to build a better and more decent kitchen for our confreres.”

Local youth assisting
with demolition of
leaky roofing sheets

The confreres put together a cost-effective plan for the renovation of the decrepit kitchen. They elaborated the project and budget in neat handwritten script, scanned the pages, and sent it to the VSO. The list included construction materials, kitchen utensils, small appliances, and labor costs. Renovations included electrification, masonry, painting and carpentry. As the project progressed, they frequently shared messages and photos of the renovation work. Each dispatch showed the confreres with wide smiles. The messages included words of appreciation to the VSO and benefactors, “Thank you for keeping our hopes alive.” The final report contained photos of the project and an inventory of the purchased articles. Each budget item and cost was neatly recorded by hand: a grand total of under $5,000 USD.

Carpenter demolishes old door frame

In September 2017, Frs. Agada and Uche were sent from the Province of Nigeria to Sierra Leone. They were the first ever Vincentian missionaries assigned to the parish of St. Columba’s Catholic Church, Moyamba, Sierra Leone. The missionaries serve several thousand faithful at the parish, four parish schools with 1,500 students ranging from pre-school to secondary school, and several outstations. The VSO team was impressed by the management skills of the confreres and the final renovation. The confreres had quickly advanced the project. They managed costs effectively, and presented photos of a colorful, well-equipped functioning kitchen. It led us to comment, “What’s for dinner in Sierra Leone?” The project transformed the kitchen from dilapidated to delightful. Frs. Agada and Unche have a dignified kitchen to live community and receive guests. The cook, too, observes the changed morale of the Nigerian Vincentian missionaries – happy for the support of the VSO and building God’s kingdom in Sierra Leone. In the months ahead, the Vincentian missionaries are planning with the VSO to dig a borehole well to introduce water to the parish and 15,000 locals.

Fr. Princewill Uche, C.M. and Fr. Jeremiah Agada, C.M. in finished kitchen

 

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