Before I came to Cameroon I used to live in Austria, more precisely in Vienna, where I studied environmental sciences. I grew up in a lively (up to chaotic) patchwork family on the countryside and so I was always having a passion for nature as well as living in a community.Traveling is a big privilege, few people around the world can just easily decide to leave their continent for a while. I am part of the lucky minority, so I started my volunteering service at Better World Cameroon in February 2017 and I’m supposed to return to Vienna in the end of June.
Up until then I still need to discover many things here – not only because there ARE simply so many interesting and delightful things, but also because I’m writing my Bachelor Thesis about Better World Cameroon. I chose Better World Cameroon as the subject of my thesis for many reasons, but especially because I was interested in alternative approaches of sustainable rural development. My purpose was to find a project from the local civil society, assuming that local rooted organizations are the ones which understand best the particular social, cultural and ecological context. I wanted to find an inspiring place, where people come together to create solutions which perfectly fit the needs of the community.
Better World Cameroon has developed its own vision for the sustainable development of Bafut, based on the principles of Permaculture. One contribution to this big idea is the establishment of Ndanifor Permaculture EcoVillage, including a permaculture demonstration farm. The entire Better World Cameroon team is in charge of maintaining and emerging this farm, so am I. Through working here, I do not only experience how wonderful refreshing a cool shower after work can be, but also how greatly nature can work for you, if you just let it do. According to my experiences I’ve made here, for me Permaculture is about observing and imitating natural processes and you merely have to consider yourself as part of it.
My life here is shaped by a variety of activities. Besides doing my research and contributing to the permaculture-farm, it is a habit that volunteers are seen as full members of the Better World Cameroon team. Hence I am attending the weekly coordination meetings and I am part of different project teams. Better World Cameroon is requiring a high degree of independence of their volunteers. This does not mean, that Better World Cameroon would leave you completely on your own - on the contrary they believe in the power of their volunteers, giving them freedom, but also guidance, whenever it is needed.
As far as I can already judge, Better World Cameroon is an organization with amazing ideas and projects. Apart from the kind of difficulties all non-profit organizations around the world are struggling with (for example coordinating efficiently while basically having democratic organizational structures), this organization has given an impressing performance over the last years. They are facing crucial challenges of the rural area here, always having in mind the big picture of a socio-ecological transformation of the whole world, according the motto “think globally, act locally!”