Cameroonian women travelling to Dublin
The women, who are all graduates of Lourdes Secondary School for Girls in Mankon, a town in western Cameroon, will be paying tribute to the Holy Rosary Sisters, who empowered them when they were teenagers.
The group, who called themselves the “Pacesetters”, include members who have worked and travelled the world, some earning PhDs and Masters with careers in engineering, nursing, medicine and more.
They are due to land in Dublin Airport this afternoon.
Dr Claire Minang, one of the students from the class of 1986, said the trip was an opportunity to thank the sisters.
“They gave us everything we needed to excel in the world when we got out. That’s why we’re so grateful,” she told RTÉ News.
During their trip to Dublin, the group will be visiting Sr Mary Neville, 90, who served as their principal.
For Nagella Nwana Nukuna, now a technical manager at DuPont, the multinational chemicals firm, the school, while strict and structured, allowed them to grow.
“They were loving sisters to us. And, as we have grown up, we could all see that that level of structure is sometimes good,” Ms Nakuna said.
Although Sr Mary has long since retired, she remembers her time at the school, and her time with her girls fondly.
“The girls were anxious to make the best of their opportunity, and they worked very hard. I found them very conscientious and responsible people,” she said.
Sr Mary also applauded their parents who sent them to the school, acknowledging that, for many, it was a big financial sacrifice.
During her time there, she tried to ensure the best learning environment, working closely with the other teachers and prefects, even banning corporal punishment.
“I encouraged them to say what kind of school they want, how are you going to achieve that and having great pride in your own compound, in your school and in your own family” Sr Mary said.
Nogwa Fonjoe, who now works in cloud computing, remembers joining the school. She said that she had initially felt homesick after leaving her parents’ home.
However, despite the often strict curriculum and daily structure, she credits Sr Mary and the rest of the Holy Rosary Sisters for teaching her discipline.
Speaking to RTÉ News, she said it helped the students be more organised.
“It helped us appreciate what a good education is and we’re able to pass that on as well to our children.”
Today, the women are all still in touch with each other, regularly in contact through WhatsApp and supporting each other through their milestones.
For Sr Mary, it is an opportunity to reunite with the girls she once knew and celebrate the heights they have reached.
“Now they’ll be women, some of them grandmothers, well dressed and very mature. I’m so excited to be meeting them again.”