Stories from the Mission Field

March 2024

Cameroon: Wholeheartedly with the People

Sarah Bosniakowski has been living and working at the Cameroonian Baptist Union's Hospital of Hope in Garoua since 2017. A volunteer placement at a health station in 2009/10 made a lasting impression on Sarah and so, after training as a nurse, she went to Cameroon again - this time as a missionary. Julia-Kathrin Raddek reports on how she is doing there and what she is doing.

In the very hot and dry north of Cameroon, the medical work supported by EBM INTERNATIONAL has been in existence for many years, sustainably shaping and supporting the region and its people with its diverse work. It is a real ray of hope for the people. Sarah has been working here as a missionary for EBM INTERNATIONAL since 2017 and, as a trained nurse, is contributing her gifts.

Care without money worries

The population of northern Cameroon in particular suffers from severe poverty. Medical care can quickly become relatively expensive. And the general rule is: money is asked for first, then the person is cared for. Treatment can easily use up a hard-earned monthly salary and food, rent, clothing, children's school materials or petrol cannot be paid for.

It's different at the Hospital of Hope. Here, people and their suffering are seen and cared for. Afterwards, they discuss together what the financial situation allows. Many opt for a loan, which they pay off at best. In other cases, the Poor People's Fund takes over the complete financing of medical care. For Sarah and her team, the following always applies: "There are no hopeless cases, we help where we can", even though the situation sometimes seems hopeless.

From coma back to life

Sarah tells us about a little boy. He arrived in a very critical condition and fell into a coma for three weeks. The doctors and nurses did everything they could. Contrary to all appearances, the boy woke up again. When the little patient visits with his father weeks later, Sarah can hardly believe her eyes. A lively boy was standing in front of her and she almost didn't recognize him. In this hospital, the family actually experienced hope and healing.

Immerse in the culture

What motivates Sarah every day is the deep certainty and the feeling that she is in the right place. 100 percent, she says. In the culture, which is so very different and endearing. In a country where she sometimes misses her favorite chocolate and a nice schnitzel. In a country where Sarah still finds it difficult to deal with the fact that, as a white woman, she is given preferential treatment in the knowledge that a local woman is missing out because of her - at the petrol station, for example. Nevertheless, over the years she has always made a conscious decision to immerse herself fully in the culture. Accepting it with its advantages and disadvantages. Her circle of friends is also made up of locals. Her church is a Cameroonian Baptist congregation.

On a mission for women and children

Sarah's tasks in Garoua are varied. She spends most of the week working in the hospital. When she treats and advises "her" women during prenatal care, they know that Sarah is fully committed to them. The educational work among young women and girls is also going well. It is about proper hygiene, contraception, pregnancy and other important issues. In recent years, more and more women have been coming regularly to receive support and advice during their pregnancy. The vast majority of births are without complications for mother and child. That is also a hopeful message. Sarah also accompanies the vaccination of the children once a week and offers a German club at the neighboring elementary school. The weekly office days are also important. There she writes reports, newsletters, pays bills and takes care of everything else that arises.

Trust in God's ways

Sarah has learned a lot during her time as a missionary and is amazed at herself when she talks about her work in German churches, beaming with joy and bubbling over. "I'm not really like that at all," she says. But it seems that this time has done something to Sarah and that makes her happy. And so she looks to the future with hope. Whatever may come, wherever the path will take her, she knows that she will feel it. She has faith in that.

by Julia-Kathrin Raddek, edited version of an article published in the EBMI magazine 1/2024