By Martin Jumbam
Sacred Heart College Douala was in a festive mood on Saturday February 12, 2005 as students and parents came together to bid farewell to the pioneer principal, Rev Sister Dolorosa Ubalaka, who was leaving Cameroon after a tour of duty lasting over ten years. At the same time, her successor Sister Christine Ndukwe was being installed in her new functions. Presiding over this ceremony was Father Sebastien Mongo, Catholic Education Secretary, representing the proprietor, Christian Cardinal Tumi. L'Effort camerounais met him.
Presiding over this ceremony was Father Sebastien Mongo, Catholic Education Secretary, representing the proprietor, Christian Cardinal Tumi. L'Effort camerounais met him.
Q: Father, you said Holy Mass this morning for this double occasion. Please tell us what it is really all about.
First of all, we thank God for the wonderful things He has done for Sister Dolorosa who has been in Cameroon for almost 11 years to cater for and give our children a good education; secondly, we also ask God's blessings on Sacred Heart College and on Sister Christine, who is coming in to continue the work Sister Dolorosa started.
Q: How are you faring in your capacity as Diocesan Education Secretary, in regards to the children, teachers' salaries and other aspects?
Principally, we are at the service of the children although as Education Secretary I do not only coordinate Catholic primary, nursery and secondary institutions, I also sometimes get involved in higher institutions here in the Archdiocese of Douala. My main responsibility is to ensure that the children receive a strong moral, academic and physical education in light of the teachings of the Church. As for teachers' salaries, I cannot say that people can ever have enough but we try to pay them decent salaries through the collection of fees from the various institutions.
For the moment, I can say that all is well although we could do better if government subventions were paid as expected and we pray to God to touch the hearts of our authorities on this matter, so that we can do more for these teachers who train our children against corruption and all the other societal ills.
Q: Father there is talk about Sacred Heart College Douala becoming a High School. Is that just a wish or is it something you are really working on?
It is actually something I am working on, but it's going to take some time because there are conditions to fulfil in order to have a High School. You should also know that this school is also a technical school, which makes the process even more complicated because of the need to put in place adequate requirements to efficiently operate the school. I think I should add, however, that this project will be realised in the very near future because both the parents and our Bishop, His Eminence Christian Cardinal Tumi, are very much committed to realising it.
The outgoing Principal, Sister Dolorosa Ubalaka, the laureate of the day, also spoke to L'Effort camerounais.
Q: Sister, 10 years in Sacred Heart College
Well, I have mixed feelings as I have been happily bringing up these children but I am also about to leave behind these very children and a lot of good friends with whom I have developed a very warm relationship. So I am leaving with mixed feelings. As a missionary, I have the joy to go somewhere else and continue the apostolate; but as a human being I am not finding it very easy parting with these children, parents and other colleagues. But as God has decided that I leave, I am obliged by my vows to always abide by the decisions of my superiors.
Q: When you look back over the past 10 years, do you feel success or would you have liked to do better?
Looking at this compound and remembering how I met it 10 years ago, I thank God for the change that we have been able to make here because I cannot even say exactly how it came about that there has been so much transformation both at the level of the infrastructure and the children.
Q: Sacred Heart College Douala has produced exceptionally good results during these 10 years. What has been your secret as an administrator of this school?
I don't know if I can call it a secret but I have always made it my duty to encourage the children to work hard and to put their trust in the Almighty God. He is the one who will make you retain what you have learned, no matter how intelligent you may be.
Also, you might not have been well and did not study well for your exams but on the examination day, if you pray to God for guidance He will help you. So if there is a secret at all, I think that can only be prayer. I also give thanks to God for the dedication of my staff members to their duty. I pray they continue to teach our children with the same dedication as they have shown so far.
Q: Now you are on your way to Nigeria
For the moment I cannot say because it is only when I will reach our Mother House in Nigeria
Q: Sister Christine is someone you know very well. What kind of advice do you have for her as your successor?
My advice to her is twofold; first as principal, she has already seen what we have done so far and I pray that she should continue in the same spirit. Secondly, as a religious, I pray that we hold on to our vows by being committed to prayers and then trying to put in our best in whatever work we have been assigned to do.
Q: And to your teachers?
To my teachers I would like to ask them to continue the good work with the new principal as they have been doing with me so that the name this school has made for itself will continue to raise respect. I believe that if they work as hard with my successor as they have done with me, the name of the school will fly even higher.
Q: What of your former students who are already out in the world?
I am really very proud of them and I wish they had been here with us today. Only one of them was here this morning. It is a special joy whenever I meet any of them. About three weeks ago, one of them came to the school and told me that he is now a graduate and has even applied to teach in this very school. I cannot describe to you how I felt at that very moment, for it was such a feeling of joy and happiness.
So for those who have gone out of here, I continue to exhort them not to forget their prayers so that the good Lord will continue to protect and guide them in whatever they choose to do. I always remember them in my prayers so that the foundation they built here should make them stand out in the world as responsible parents and good Christians wherever they are.
The incoming principal, Sister Christine, also had a few words for our readers.
Q: Sister, you are now taking over from Sister Dolorosa but you are not a new person around here. How long have you been here?
I have been here for four years now.
Q: What are your impressions at this moment that you are taking over as principal of Scared Heart College
I would like to point out that my predecessor has achieved a lot here, especially in infrastructure. I have also learned a lot from her and I am deeply impressed by her managerial skills and the results she has produced during the 10 years that she was here.
Q: Judging from the speeches made today, especially those of the teachers, it is clear that you will be inheriting quite a good number of problems. How do you intend to handle them?
Primarily, anywhere you go, you will always hear teachers complaining of their salaries. It is true that this is a universal problem and together with the other problems, God willing, we shall do our possible best to try to solve them.
Q: What message do you have for the students whom you will now be directly in charge of?
I would like to ask them to continue to abide by the rules and regulations of Sacred Heart College
No one can become responsible and successful in life without first cultivating self discipline and school years are the best period to learn this.Ave Verum Corpus, K.618: Six Versions