In Dibanda, in the southwest region of Cameroon, stands the Associated Rehabilitation Center for the Handicapped (ARCH), which provides services to individuals living with orthopedic and neurological problems. For over 30 years, ARCH has provided rehabilitation and training for common conditions like paralyzed arms and cerebral palsy, to bowed legs, knocked knees and clubbed feet, as well as injuries from burns and accidents. The mission of the center is to give rehabilitation to people living with disabilities, from newborns to the elderly.
Rev. Sr. Leonarda Tubuo, a Sister of St. Therese of the Child Jesus of Buea (SST), serves as the Matron of ARCH and is a 2018 alumna of the finance track of ASEC’s Sisters Leadership Development Initiative (SLDI) program. As administrator, Sr. Leonarda oversees everything at ARCH, from the physiotherapy clinic to the orthopedic workshop where corrective and support devices are fabricated, to the canteen, laundry and cleaning.
The Challenges of Leadership
One of her biggest challenges can be time management and balancing these responsibilities.
The SLDI program provides leadership and technology training to sisters like Sr. Leonarda, allowing them to become better stewards of their time and money.
There is no accountant at ARCH and the center is not sponsored, so Sr. Leonarda is responsible for the budgeting, which was difficult for her before SLDI. After her finance training, she now understands that good budgeting enables a peaceful workplace.
Through her quarterly reports, Sr. Leonarda knows how much income they have and what they can spend.
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SLDI Skills Benefit the Community
Sr. Leonarda also learned grant writing through SLDI, which became critical when the war in Cameroon deterred patients from coming to the center. Knowing they needed another source of income, Sr. Leonarda contacted experts to give her a budget for the costs associated with running a farm. She used this to write a request to the Hilton Fund for Sisters and was granted the funding to start and run a sustainable farm consisting of crops like tomatoes, plantains and corn and animals such as pigs, quails and other birds.
“I was able to cost and run the projects effectively because of all the knowledge I had gathered from my training,” said Sr. Leonarda.
SLDI Skills Benefit the Congregation
'Sr. Leonarda has also seen how her SLDI training has benefitted her congregation. In their congregational leadership meetings, SLDI alumnae came up with mission and vision statements for the congregation, which now guide their leadership and provide direction. She says her training allows her and her congregation to do “ordinary things extraordinarily well.” She is grateful to be fulfilling the charism of her congregation in all she does: "Love and unity lived in joyful simplicity."
“This training has helped me to get down the brass tacks of living with people, helping people. Because that’s our charism,” said Sr. Leonarda. “We want to live with people, we want to help them from their standpoint. We want to stand in their shoes and be one with them.”
“I’m grateful to ASEC for giving us this training and all the tools we need so that we can be able to merge our [congregation’s] mission and our vision with the mission and vision of wherever we are working. Thank you very much.” -Sr. Leonarda
Virtual Field Trip
In this "Virtual Field Trip" recorded for current SLDI participants, Sr. Leonarda explains her ministry work and how ASEC has improved her time management, budgeting, grant writing and strategic planning skills.
She also discusses other ideas she gleaned from the program, like sustainable farming to support the ARCH center.