To support Kumbo’s efforts, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles throughout the years has sent missionaries to the region through the Lay Mission-Helpers Association. Two missionaries will be traveling this summer to Cameroon on a three-year mission trip (The Tidings, May 27). “The Diocese of Kumbo has had a long time relationship with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” Bishop Nkuo told The Tidings during his first visit to L.A. “We have built a strong relationship with the Lay Mission-Helpers Association. We are privileged to have great missionaries sacrificing so much and teaching us; they have been very devoted to their work.”He recalled the commitment and devotion of his biology teacher Betty Risley, a lay mission-helper who had to flee from Nigeria where she had been assigned with two other missionaries in the late 1960s due to a civil war. They crossed into Cameroon, developing since then a strong relationship with the Diocese of Kumbo.His visit, said the bishop, provides an opportunity to continue reaching out to the archdiocese and to find ways to continue working together. He made a mission appeal to Catholics to sponsor a student in Cameroon and to provide for their health services.“I’m here to say thank you and to encourage other missionaries to help take care of the needs we have in Africa, in Cameroon,” he said.Their educational needs include training of science teachers, information technology experts and health personnel.But, more important, he said, is that missionaries have a chance to share their faith. Throughout the years the missionaries have built a strong spirit of relationship, “which is very good for our church,” said the bishop. “I have seen how they learn our language, our culture, eat our food and share their own culture, which helps establish good bonds with our people.”The Diocese of Kumbo covers about 5,000 square miles and serves more than 250,000 Catholics. It includes 120 Catholic elementary schools with an enrollment of about 19,000 students (annual fees are $50 per child) and 10 high schools with a total of 3,000 students (fees vary from $600 for boarder students who have to move closer to their schools from their remote homes to $130 for those living at home). The schools are funded in part through government subsidies which,although slim, help keep schools open since very few families have the means to afford the fees.“You never know how many doors will open with this support,” said Bishop Nkuo, recalling how he was sponsored by a person so he could receive Catholic education.“Our schools are very important tools for evangelization,” said Father Eugene Nkardzedze, a priest in the Diocese of Kumbo, currently on leave to pursue a graduate degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. “A lot of conversion takes place in our schools, especially in the remote rural areas.”Missionaries play a huge role in this process, the priests said in unison with Janice England, Lay Mission-Helpers program director. “It’s not just about the money, but about the relationship, a mutual sharing,” they said.For more information about the Lay Mission-Helpers Association, call (213) 368-1873 or visit{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/0603/missionside/{/gallery}