Friday, January 18, 2013

Our First Graduation

This weekend we celebrated with one of RUDECs orphans as he graduated after a 3 year welding apprenticeship. Marcel has been sponsored by RUDEC since 2008. He is 17 years old and lives with his maternal aunt and uncle, who have been taking care of him since his parents’ deaths. At first he was attending school but then he found that academic work wasn’t for him so he requested to be allowed to learn a trade. Joshua agreed and in July 2009 Marcel began training at Simple Boys welding and metal workshop in Belo. Here in Cameroon the families of young people who want to learn a trade are required to pay the owner of the business, the Patron, a fee to teach their child. RUDEC undertook to pay these fees for Marcel. He worked hard and along with 2 other apprentices, he was ready to graduate at the beginning of 2013.

Joshua, myself and Phil were invited to the ceremony which was held at the Patron’s house in an area high above Belo. We arrived on time but in true Cameroonian style most people didn’t! There were more than 200 people in their best clothes there to witness the boys’ big day. There was music, speeches and prayers and it was interesting to be the only “visitors” once again. Many other trades people attend graduations and those graduating distribute small amounts of money amongst them. They are demonstrating that they are men now and that they are ready for work.
The boys were given certificates and sprinkled with water by their Patron. This symbolises that they have learnt from him and passed through his care, the patron is cleaning their eyes so they can see the correct path to take and to encourage that they should follow his example.
As part of the graduation ‘fee’ the families of the boys have to provide drinks and food which are then given to the “important” guests. We were invited by Marcel’s family to eat with them in a nearby house and the traditional Cameroonian meal was delicious, although we did have to eat with a rather large audience and they had reserved enough food for 6 people especially for us and expected us to eat it all! The hospitality of people here is fantastic and it was a great experience to be welcomed so warmly. The ride back down the mountain was fun, 4 on a motorbike that really belonged on the scrapheap, on a potholed, steep, stone strewn, dirt track..all part of the adventure!

One big problem here is when young people graduate, whether as welders, tailors or carpenters, they often can’t afford the basic tools they need to start a business and jobs are scarce and hard to come by. Most patrons like having apprentices because they don’t have to pay any wages. There were several young men at Marcel’s graduation that completed their apprenticeship last year but are still unable to work because of these reasons. It is a real struggle for young people to get on to the work ladder.

So we decided, with some of the money kindly donated by my friends and family, to buy Marcel the tools he needs to begin his own workshop. We hope that one day he will be able to pass on his skills to another child sponsored by RUDEC, so that the cycle of help can continue.

This morning he came with his aunts, uncle and cousin to receive the tools. They were extremely happy. The uncle made a moving speech about the value of RUDEC in Marcel’s life so far and how these tools represent more than just tools. They will provide for him as long as he continues to work hard and they are what will enable Marcel to have a home, family and wife in the future.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kom Cultural Festival.(Njong)

One of the benefits of volunteering with RUDEC is that it brings you into direct contact with local people and their culture and customs. Volunteering is a great way to give something back to society whilst experiencing a different way of life and you will really begin to understand the country you are in, in much more depth than a regular “tourist” who just passes through places.

Last week, here in the ‘Kom’ region of Cameroon, we were lucky enough to experience a cultural highlight. Once a year on the 5th January the ‘Fon’ or Chief of the Kom people holds a gathering called Njong, high in the mountains, at his palace in Laikom. This is the time of year when Kom people, who historically come from this area of Cameroon and some who have relocated, come from all regions to pay their New Year respects to their Chief.

This is the ceremony where, traditionally, the people displayed their strength of arms, to show the Fon that they were ready to face any possible invasions in the coming year. Nowadays the threat of war has gone but the Kom people still hold tight to their traditions. So they bring their cutlasses and guns and demonstrate their power to all those gathered.

Some of us volunteers decided to make the trek up to Laikom to see the happenings! It was a beautiful but steep trek up the mountain, through open pastures, rocky fields, dense woodland and small streams. We hardly saw anyone on the walk up but when we reached the top we were greeted by hundreds of Cameroonians, all in their traditional colourful and elaborate Dallah costumes. It was a spectacular sight. Each group of men from different villages were in matching costumes and they took it in turns to go and make an offering to the Fon and then to demonstrate their weapons. There were a lot of guns fired into the air that day! A festival like this would never be possible in the western world and it took a while to get used to seeing everyone walking around with a shotgun!

It was interesting to see the different clothing style of the few Fulani people who were present, they are a neighbouring tribe, whose stature, complexion and features are quite distinct and also whose traditions and costumes vary greatly from their Kom neighbours.

Traditional food of foufou, which is the Cameroonian staple, made of maize flour and water, katikati, which is chicken and njemajema, being green vegetables, was served and then eaten with the hands. We attracted a lot of attention, with many people taking photos of us whilst we were eating. I guess it’s only fair, as we were taking pictures of them firing guns and wearing their costumes!! And in true Cameroon style there was beer available.

The Fon has many wives and dozens of children, each of his wives has her own house within the palace. When a Fon dies his brother takes his place and also inherits all his late brother’s wives. As we were the only “visitors” present, we were shown the palace, given palm wine to drink and were greeted by almost everyone we passed, so much hand shaking! This is one of the benefits of ‘living’ in a country rather than just travelling, really getting up close to a culture and interacting with the people.

Monday, January 7, 2013


2013 is here, another new year. We don’t know what it which challenges or rewards it may bring but here at RUDEC we know we will continue to work towards improving the lives of underprivileged residents in Belo.
This year RUDEC hopes to extend it’s sponsor an orphan program to be able to help more children go to school. It also wishes to welcome more volunteers than 2012, build on existing projects, ensuring that they are viable and sustainable and to introduce new programs and ideas.

To all our sponsors, followers, volunteers and friends we wish you all the best for 2013, may all your goals be achieved.

At the Christmas party we asked the children to write or draw something about RUDEC, their thoughts or hopes. Here are a few things that they wrote.


I thank you people for taking me to be among this group for help. I am so happy that I have an education. I promise to work harder in school because education is the key to success. By all possible means I will have the key of success in my life, which is education.


RUDEC has helped us in many ways like paying our school fees before the start of the academic year, giving us food to eat during Christmas. Whenever we are sick they take us to the hospital and after every year we have to go and check whether each of us has any illnesses like AIDS, malaria, eye problems, toothache, ear problems and they even give us a uniform after every year and buying books, pens, pencils etc. Some people take education for a joke; for example I know this term I played a lot and I failed but I promise this term I will make you people to smile. I think RUDEC has helped me in many ways. I am proud of my lucky.

BORIS NTAM aged 14

I wish continued prosperity for RUDEC and may God help keep it to higher heights and we the pupils pledge to put our best order to achieve it.


I want to thank you for your kind and caring attitude towards me. Without you I wouldn't be where I am today. In fact, I did not know I would ever be in secondary school. I don’t know how to appreciate you but God will bless and reward you. And I pray and believe that God is going to guide me so that I should make you proud of me and fulfil my dreams.

Kelly 07/01/2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013


 Support RUDEC’s
 ‘Wheels for Orphans Project’

RUDEC supports orphans in the hilly district of the Belo region. Fieldworkers provide orphans with emotional support, health checks, medicines and books but they have to walk up to three hours to reach them. Motorbikes are the only effective means of transport to visit the orphans on a regular basis.

Here is a typical story…
Quiline & Christel

Christel and Quiline are 12 and 13 years old. They lost their parents through TB/AIDs and now lives with other orphans in Anyajua, a village three hours walk from RUDEC. A typical community comprises 1 – 5 orphans who live with a dedicated foster aunt or grandmother. The children are often lacking good health, and many had a traumatic start in life or neglected. Clinton relies on RUDEC to pay school fees and supply medicines, glasses and clothes. Local schools also require education materials. Using motorbikes we could reach Christel and Quiline on a regular basis and provide the necessary support he and 55 other orphans need.

The project seeks to be self-sustaining through bike hire as we shall put them on the roads as a means to help local people with transport and also run our projects activities. Riders would be ready at all times to get kids to the hospital as the needs arise. We shall provide a general community support as these would be emergency support services provided by RUDEC.

With two motorbikes and additional funds we could:

·        Support fieldworkers to visit orphans on a regular basis
·        Pay orphans tuition fees, books, glasses and clothes
·        Reach many more orphans in surrounding villages
·        Support schools to educate the orphans 

How you can help

·        Raise money – organise a fundraising event
·        Email this page to friends and family and work colleagues
·        Donate directly online easily and safely with a credit/debit card. 
·        Make single or regular donations - the money goes directly to the support programme

What your donation will pay for:


Transportation Scheme Costs

American dollar $
Two bikes
(to be purchased in Bamenda, Cameroon)

Safety helmet
(to be purchased in Bamenda Cameroon)

*Local taxes

*Maintenance costs

*Fuel costs

*Payment to riders


Fieldwork support costs

*Tuition fees x 55 orphans
(RUDEC pays fees to Parent Teachers Association on behalf of the orphans)

*Medicines and glasses x 55 orphans

*Books x 55 orphans

Clothes and one pair of shoes x 55 orphans


Appeal target

*Costs are for one year

You could also choose to donate just for one item on the list of needs

Paypal instructions about here at  Please specify ¨Motorbike project¨ on the paypal detail description area