Founder & Chair, Board of Governors
Founder & Chair, Good Shepherd Academy Association, Bamenda
Founder & Mother Superior, Good Shepherd Home for Children, Bamenda and Batibo
Founder, Benedictine Sisters of Bethany, Bamenda
Sister Jane Mankaa grew up in Bafut, Cameroon the eldest of eight children. While her story is similar to other women growing up in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, Sister Jane found a way to improve not only her own life but the lives of countless others.
At 16 years of age, after graduating from Njibkage Primary School and PCSS Kumbo for secondary school, she declared to her father that she would join a religious order. Her father refused insisting that such a life would yield no bond, no children and no bride’s wealth. In defiance, Sister Jane left her family and joined the contemplative Sisters of Emmanuel, a Presbyterian order.
During her residence with the sisters, the AIDS epidemic began spiraling out of control and the effects of extreme poverty hit Cameroon hard. A generation of parents was lost and 300,000 children were orphaned. Sister Jane found these children on the street and decided she would dedicate her life to helping them. When asked why, Sister Jane says she was touched by an internal power that would ultimately allow her to leave the safety of her life in the convent, travel to America, and study convent management at Sisters of Christian Charity College in Mendham, NJ so she could found an order to care for the orphaned children.
Upon returning to Cameroon, Sister Jane founded Good Shepherd Home for Children, a Registered Orphanage in the Republic of Cameroon, with donations and self-sustaining. She pays the children’s school fees, medical fees, feeds and clothes them and has created a family with a tremendously powerful bond. They care for one another, help one another and love each other with all of their being.
Sister Jane’s desires did not end with the 150 children she now cares for in two separate Homes. It was her dream for decades to build a coed residential secondary/high school for all children of Cameroon, since secondary education is not mandatory resulting in a severe shortage in the number of schools needed. To accomplish her goals, she founded Good Shepherd Academy Association headquartered in Bamenda and partnered with an American NGO, Good Shepherd SLF, USA. In a grassroots, cross cultural partnership based on faith, mutuality, and transparency, the two organizations founded Good Shepherd Academy in Bafut, Cameroon.
“The Good Mother of Abangoh”, an award-winning documentary about Sister Jane and the children who call her ‘Mother’, has been shown at film festivals across the United States. I Am That Child, a book about her and the Good Shepherd children, was #1 on Amazon.com for the months of March and April in 2014. She is the recipient of the Nation Builders International Achiever Award for Outstanding Achievement and Contribution to Nation Building in the Humanitarian Domain. Nation Builders International is an NGO founded in Ghana, West Africa.