Franciscan Common Venture sends team to Cameroon

From left, Sister Jethro Nkenglefac, Manager of the Cardiac Centre; Sister Nicole Nchanji, Business Manager; Brent Littlefield and Joyce Alpaugh share their excitement over new financial reports for the Cardiac Centre. Sister Jethro Nkenglefac, TSSF and Sister Kieran Foley, FSE at the Cardiac Centre in Shisong.

SHISONG, CAMEROON (05-2010) – A team of three from Phoenix, Los Angeles and Meriden, Connecticut, set out April 30, 2010, on a mission. Their destination, Shisong, Cameroon. Their focus: the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis' accounting system. Through the generosity of CYMA Systems, Inc. of Tempe, Arizona, an accounting software company, the Franciscan Common Venture found a way to respond to the Tertiary Sisters' need for an improved method of accounting for their Province, St. Elizabeth Hospital and their new Cardiac Centre.

Brent Littlefield works with Sister Roswitha, Finance Manager, and her Assistant, Madam Maureen at St. Elizabeth Hospital.

CYMA Systems' largesse included not only thousands of dollars of their non-profit accounting software modules, but also six new computers, printers and external hard drives. The most gracious donation of all was CYMA Systems' sending one of its premiere consultants, Mr. Brent Littlefield, as the accounting software expert to oversee the installation, customization and training of the Sisters and staff. The Franciscan Common Venture sent Sister Kieran Foley, FSE to represent the Franciscan communities in the project and to be a liaison with the Tertiary Sisters in Cameroon. Sister Kieran, an organizational consultant and director of Synergic Systems, Meriden, Connecticut, used her skills to assist in the organizational transition required as the Sisters moved from a predominantly manual and spreadsheet system to a state-of-the-art accounting system. Sister Kieran coordinates the CYMA installations and training for her community, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. The third member of the mission group was Joyce Alpaugh of the Lay Mission Helpers, a missionary organization founded in 1955 in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Joyce, a professional accountant, enthusiastically volunteered to collaborate in the project. She and Brent Littlefield recommended ways to instill generally accepted accounting practices into the Sisters' methods. Joyce assisted with the training and is staying in Cameroon for two months to provide daily on-site support. Brent and Sister Kieran returned to the U.S. on May 14th. In addition, Joyce is documenting the accounting procedures and compiling a comprehensive step-by-step manual to serve as a guide for the CYMA users in the three Shisong locations.

Sister Ermelinde (left), Treasurer for the TSSF Province, her Assistant, Sister Florence, and Joyce Alpaugh focus together on solving a problem during a training session at the Province office.

Prior to the trip, the team had reviewed the charts of accounts and conversed via phone and email with Sister Nicole Nchanji, TSSF, Business Manager of the Cardiac Centre, as they tried to become as familiar as possible with the Sisters' current systems and their needs. "The Sisters were eager to learn and welcomed us with open arms. It was gratifying to see such big smiles on their faces when they saw the meaningful reports they can print at any time," Sister Kieran commented. Brent Littlefield was impressed with the Tertiary Sisters and their dedicated work in Shisong. "They are a tremendous help to people and I admire their spirit of self-sacrifice," he said. "The CYMA system will save them hours of time which they need as they are so busy serving others."

The Sisters had designated the three entities, St. Elizabeth Hospital, Cardiac Centre, and Province, as the most critical places to initiate an improved accounting system. The Sisters' St. Elizabeth Hospital, founded over 70 years ago, has 350 beds, an out-patient clinic, a dental service and the new cardiac centre. The St. Elizabeth Cardiac Centre, a collaborative project of the Tertiary Sisters and two Italian foundations, opened in November 2009. Physician teams have come from Milan, Italy, and France to perform 55 surgical operations, 8 coronary angiocardiography and 10 catheterizations since its opening. Staff physicians daily see a full schedule of patients for diagnosis, surgery preparation, follow-up, and heart-related illnesses. The Province maintains the finances for the Sisters serving in over 35 locations throughout Cameroon.

Mr. Chris Lovely, CEO of CYMA Systems, is credited by the U.S. Franciscan Sisters in the Franciscan Common Venture and the Tertiary Sisters as "the one who made it possible." "Mr. Lovely's generosity is magnanimous and we are extremely grateful," expressed Sister Euphrasia Yuh, Provincial Superior of the Tertiary Sisters. For his part, Mr. Lovely said he wanted this project to be "Something our entire company can get behind as a global outreach."

Brent Littlefield and Sister Ermelinde concentrate on financial reports for the Province accounts. After a week of long hours each day, the team spent part of Saturday afternoon visitng the nearby town of Kumbo with Sister Priscilla.
A view of the inner courtyard of St. Elizabeth Hospital, Shisong.
The entrance to St. Elizabeth Cardiac Centre, Shisong.
Sister Linda Lynn receives payments at the St. Elizabeth Hospital cash office. The Sisters report that many who receive services cannot pay.
Sister Josee at work in the Business Office of the Cardiac Centre.