Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Lynn and Jonas Testimonial for RUDEC Cameroon

 On January 20th 2016, we, Lynn and Jonas, two German-Americans living in Berlin, travelled to Cameroon. We were had just finished high school and decided to volunteer for three months in an
African country during our gap year before starting university. We wanted to see different parts of Cameroon as well as gain experience from different NGOs, which is why decided to spend half the time in Buea (South-West Region) with an organization and the other six weeks volunteering with RUDEC in Belo.
Upon arriving in Belo, we immediately fell in love with the small rural town. The climate was nice and the hilly landscape was beautiful. We arrived not really knowing what project we were going to work on, yet quickly focused on the beekeeping project: We traveled to the farm three times (45 minute ride) and installed more than 20 beehives, many of which were funded through a fundraising campaign we set into motion.
We greatly enjoyed working with RUDEC because of its close ties to the community and extremely proactive approach: If you think of an initiative that could help the community, nothing is stopping you from starting to realize it, with RUDEC’s help, the next day.
Nonetheless, volunteering in Cameroon, with RUDEC is not for everyone. We think you will love volunteering with RUDEC if you 1) get along well with others in ambigious, real-life situations despite miscommunications and unforeseen challenges and 2) work independently and are intrinsically motivated to make a change. RUDEC will support you, but no one will hold your hand or tell you what to do.
At the writing of this testimonial, international press coverage of Cameroon is nearly exclusively negative and focused on terrorist attacks in Central and Western Africa. These warnings are valid; however they apply only to the northern regions of Cameroon (counterintuitively, the North-West isn’t anywhere near northern Cameroon). Unlike all the western countries we have visited, the Cameroonian military operates many checkpoints within its own territory. If you stay in the North-West, South-West, Central, Littoral or Western regions, it is just about as safe as living in Istanbul, Turkey even though there is fighting in ‘nearby’ Syria. We felt safe at all times – everyone we met, including the military personnel at checkpoints were helpful and welcoming. Nevertheless, you should still keep an eye on any developments before your trip and act with reasonable caution while you are here.
We hope that describing our experiences has helped you come to a decision about whether you want to volunteer with RUDEC or not. Of course, we hope you decide to go to Belo – We would come back any day!

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