This section of the site will contain information and news on the Mannya Parish and support projects.
Someone asked Len Monk, who now works 8 hours a week visiting people in the Parish, if the Parish was still involved in Mannya. The answer is a big YES.
I went to Mannya on 1st August this year and returned on the 25th. I set out on my own and Kevin Shannon came a week or two later. He was last there in 2009 and noticed an extraordinary difference in the last four years. The biggest change is certainly the opening of a kindergarten where over 300 children are catered for, for 5 days each week. There are now nearly 1000 children in
the Primary school and 800 in the Secondary school. With the Primary and Secondary schools at Busibo, the Cotton On Foundation is educating 4,700 children in Uganda.
Where does St Bernard’s fit into all of this? We are especially involved at the Health Centre and supply up to $35,000 per year to support the Centre. While I was there, the people christened me ‘Jadga’, which means ‘Grandfather’ in their language. I met all sorts of people and Fr Nestus had me working flat out with talks at the schools, with Weddings, Baptisms and Funerals. The people are buried the day after they die and are buried in their own backyard.
Paul Spence, the former Principal of Clairvaux, has a wider role after a number of years and he is responsible for what we call ‘The Four Pillars’ – Health; Education; Maintenance and Sustainability. Carolyn Kelly, the current Principal of Clairvaux, has taken responsibility for Education. They travel to Mannya 3 times a year in our school holidays. We, at St Bernard’s, owe a great deal to both of them. There are now over 40 students at the University in Masaka, the second biggest city in Uganda.
Coffee is now being produced at Mannya and coffee plants are given to farmers to help them sustain their families. While I was there, the locals fenced 50 acres of land with access to water. On your behalf, I purchased 20 cows (Texas Longhorns). The cattle will have calves in the next few months and when sold at 6 months old, will help the Parish towards sustainability. Cattle are expensive – we paid $A350.00 for each one and already, since I returned, 10 people have paid for 10 cows. We are now purchasing a bull!
A great celebration took place on the second Sunday of August in Mannya. Everyone and then some were there. The Bishop, the Vice-President of Uganda – all sorts of people we there. We celebrated the Centenary of the ordination of the first African priests. In 1913, Ugandans, Frs Basil and Victor were amongst those priests. The celebration went on for 6 hours and you can imagine the struggle I had to sit there for such a long time. At the centenary, the Vice-President and I laid a foundation stone for a convent which should be finished by Easter next year. Five Sisters, Daughters of Mary, will come to work in Mannya, 3 in the Health Centre and 2 in the school.
After speaking with the other Executor of the Will of the late Peter Redmond, we had decided that St Bernard’s Parish would use Peter’s $89,000.00 bequest to Mannya, to build the convent. The total cost of the project is $A123,000.00 with St Bernard’s to cover the shortfall. How can this happen? Projects such as these are possible because of your generosity.
I will continue to visit Mannya and Fr Vince intends to go when he can. Cotton On will continue to promote The Four Pillars. They are planning to build a coffee processing plant in the district and involve Mannya people in a type of co-operative. Mannya coffee is highly regarded throughout the world. St Joseph’s College, Newtown paid for musical instruments for a band which is now flourishing and the Cotton On Foundation are bringing some of the band to Geelong in November this year. They will give a couple of concerts and play at St Bernard’s one weekend in December. Fr Nestus will return with them.
I will try to keep you informed of happenings at Mannya.
Below: Some people of the Mannya Community