In early January of 2007, my good friend Lynda traveled to West Africa to visit an orphanage in Abangoh, Cameroon. What she found when she got there was an extraordinary world unlike any she had seen before. She returned a changed woman and shared her experiences with me so passionately that I had to get involved somehow. Lynda explained how the woman that founded the Good Shepherd Home, Sister Jane Mankaa was so gifted and so generous that what outsiders might call an orphanage had really become a family.
Lynda immediately thought we should film a documentary on Sister Jane and the 43 children living with her but I was certainly more pragmatic. I knew it would cost a lot to travel a crew and spend enough time in Africa to tell a durable story.
But Lynda's enthusiasm was contagious and soon I began talking to friends and colleagues about Sister Jane and how a woman that was born in the poverty stricken village of Bafut, the eldest of eight children, to parents who were subsistence farmers, found the means and the courage to enact change on her community in the most powerful way possible: through changing the lives of children. I wanted the world to know Sister Jane and the children. I had seen so much film coming out of Africa that spoke of the despair and hopelessness and I knew there was another way to get the message out. And most importantly, I wanted the children to get a chance to tell the world their stories so the world would know them personally and not just some statistic about them.
And then the miracle of connections began, when a colleague of mine was speaking with a New York philanthropist about the plight of Africa and how he would like to do some “good work” there. Within 24 hours, Lynda was speaking directly with our new benefactor who pledged enough resources to help Sister Jane build new facilities for the children (with running water and toilets) and also enough funds to cover the cost for a documentary expedition.
His hope in funding the film is to raise awareness and funds for the children of The Good Shepherd Home. I hope we have done what it will take to continue to change the lives of the children that live in this most extraordinary family. At the very least, we can give the children the chance to let the world know that they exist. And that they have hopes and dreams and great love to share with the world.
Thank you for taking the time to view this film and I hope you enjoy meeting this amazing family.