Friday, October 21, 2016
I was born in Belo, a small community in Northwest Cameroon, in 1975.
At the age of six, on the death of my father, I was sent to live with my aunt who took care of six children in her house. She has a humble background selling baby dresses and supported me throughout my school days. Upon leaving school, my aunt could no longer afford to support me. Although I passed my A-Levels to enter university in the hope of studying agriculture, I did not have the opportunity.
Therefore, I had to come up with an alternative profession where I could still have an impact on the region and which I could afford. I dreamt of something where I could use my hands and something that would make an independent source of income. Not least, I have always enjoyed the taste of our neighbour’s sweet honey, so I decided to become a beekeeper, I researched what was required and joined several associations to enable me to attain my full potential.
I received the certificate of the British Beekeepers Association (BBK) and developed a strong interest in training other people. Progress was slow so some friends (with complementary skills) and I formed our own organization. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful with our funding application and had to shut down the operation. I still had the thought in my head to come back to my childhood community. I knew the people, culture, traditions and environment that are unique to Belo; hence it made perfect sense for me to base my work here. As a result, I founded Rural Development Centre (RUDEC) along with some supporters in 2006; we had to surmount many obstacles to get the project off the ground.
RUDEC was formed with the mission to serve the neediest members of the rural communities of Cameroon's Boyo Division by creating educational, social and economic empowerment projects.
The project I am proudest of is the "Orphan and Destitute Children Project" which aims to cover the educational, health and basic needs of 57 orphans. They stay with families of our community that take care of them while RUDEC is highly dependent on donors to provide for the children's school fees, materials, uniforms, medical bills, and training programs thus offering them a brighter future. We strive to give them a good start in life. Especially at the end of summer RUDEC often struggles to support the families, financially, because of hefty back-to-school-costs. Consequently, we constantly reach out to develop opportunities for funding.
On a long-term basis, I dream that girls would no longer have to sell their bodies just to be able to buy books. I dream education will result in a deeper understanding and awareness of poor hygiene, HIV and tuberculosis, as in many cases this is what lead to the death of their parents. I also dream of reaching even more children in rural areas and providing for their education.
If RUDEC had the means I would like to install a permanent office with permanent staff that I can connect with, rely on and where both sides have the opportunity to grow. A community centre that would become a social hub thus enabling empowerment of those most vulnerable in our community.
This scholarship that I have been selected for will help me to acquire a vast range of skills that I will be able to use to achieve the realization of these projects.
Moreover, I would love RUDEC to become self-sustainable. Currently, we are constantly seeking financial support to enable us to fund our Orphan’s education and care.
Our current projects comprise of selling honey from our hives, pig rearing with a view to selling the animals and a women’s micro-finance project that though generating small returns is vital for the self sufficiency of these women.
Kanthari International Institute (India) educates people who are solution-driven without considering where participants come from, what social background they have or if they are physically impaired. Nor does it limit the participant’s approach to social change. This way of thinking is in line with the envisioned community centre of RUDEC, where everybody is welcomed and we make every effort to involve the whole community.
This program opens up the great opportunity of meeting, exchanging and networking with people from all over the world that have different perspectives and approaches in terms of ethical social change in their communities.
I would welcome this chance to learn from them. In order to build a reliable funding for the orphan project I need further skills in business development planning, proposal and report writing. To reach out to donors and promote our work and volunteering with RUDEC I need to strengthen my knowledge in marketing, use of social media and public speaking.
I experienced what it is like to be partly an orphan; I faced difficulties of going to school, could not afford to graduate. Nonetheless, I am grateful I had support and directions throughout my childhood. This is why the Orphan and Destitute Children Project is the heart of our work at RUDEC.
Your support will enable me to obtain a proper education and the required skills to enable me to make my dreams for Belo, RUDEC and my community become reality.
ESTIMATED COST OF WHOLE TRIP
Flight: 800,000 XAF
Student Visa: 160,000 XAF
Student 1 year insurance: 90,000 XAF
Health check report: 60,000 XAF
Caution: 150,000 XAF
Expenses: 300,000 XAF
Transport: 55,000 XAF
Approximate Total 1,600,000CFA (2,500 €)