However, Catholic Mission’s 2019 Church Appeal, which will be held in parishes throughout Adelaide in October, tells the story of her rescue and remarkable turnaround.
The theme of this year’s appeal is ‘Do not fear, for I am with you’.
It will raise funds for the crucial work of Church missionaries in northern Ghana, like Sister Stan Therese Mumuni who runs the Nazareth Home for God’s Children in the Diocese of Yendi.
“Sr Stan epitomises what it means to be a true missionary in your own community,” says acting Diocesan director for Catholic Mission in Adelaide, Tony Johnston.
“She has risked her own safety and wellbeing to ensure the protection and fullness of life for the most vulnerable children in Ghana.”
The home offers shelter, nutritious meals, healthcare and education as well as unconditional love for children who were associated with the spirit world because of disability or the death of a parent or family member.
Sarah, who was considered a spirit child because of her speech impediment, was rescued by Sr Stan, brought to the Nazareth Home, and provided with the practical support and care that had been missing from her life. Eight years later, she is now top of her class at school.
Bishop Vincent Sowah Boi-Nai of the Yendi Diocese says many other children have not been so fortunate.
“Here, when a child is born with a birth defect, they are seen as a spirit child. That child might be killed because they are seen as a bad omen,” he said.
Across parts of northern Ghana where it is especially prevalent, the Catholic Church and its missionaries have been working with the government and local community members to educate people to turn away from those harmful practices.
“If any one of these children who is rejected, abandoned or accused, one day returns to their village, educated, and says, ‘Do you know me? I was rejected by you people and I was rescued by the Church, and this is who I am now’ I think that it will be a way of stopping that practice and turning to God,” said Sr Stan.
The 2019 Catholic Mission Church Appeal will be conducted in parishes around Adelaide as part of the Extraordinary Missionary Month celebrations.
“Pope Francis created the Extraordinary Missionary Month to inspire a renewal in missionary spirit among all of us as Catholics,” said Tony.
“We are called to do something extraordinary for God and this appeal offers a practical way we can answer that call by helping vulnerable children like Sarah.
“The generosity of the people of Adelaide can offer through this appeal will help missionaries like Sr Stan to carry this weight of responsibility and create a future for these children filled with joy, hope and opportunity.”
To support the work of Sr Stan and missionaries around the world, look out for appeal envelopes, phone 1800 257 296 or visit catholicmission.org.au/Ghana.