Meline (Milla), 24 years old

Throughout life I have been sensitized about a candid, faithful society founded on participation and confidence. I grew up with four siblings in the capital City of Germany, in an outer borough of Berlin. As a child I spent most of my time in our garden where I enjoyed being surrounded by plants and animals. This might be one of the main sources of my passion for landscape design. Before coming to Cameroon I finished my Bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at the Technical University of Berlin. Furthermore I have experiences in garden maintenance and participation processes as I enjoy doing practical work – the closer to the objective the better. To me the best way of learning is through observing. This is why I appreciate the approach of Better World Cameroon (BWC). The idea of having a demonstration center and involving the neighborhood directly in all activities raised my interest.

Here in Cameroon, I live in Bamenda, the capital city of the North West Region, not far from the Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage (NPE) Demonstration Center. Life in the Better World Cameroon guest house allows me to experience the Cameroonian way of urban living. I enjoy the busy traffic, the adventurous bike rides and the flexibility to move around the North West Region or even further. It is really interesting to go to the various markets seeing the diversity of people. I get the chance to meet and visit people from the neighborhood or to invite them to our place. This exchange is a perfect opportunity to get an idea of the daily life in Cameroon as well as to attend cultural events.

I mainly work in the rural area of Bafut on the Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage Demonstration center. To me the NPE site is a really inspiring place where I mostly enjoy strolling around exploring the surrounding and observing the changing landscape. I arrived just before the rainy season started and together with Ruth and Ma Beatrice (colleagues) we mainly worked on the High Value Agricultural Product-project (HVAP). This approach of working with local farmers, who are mainly women on how to add value to their crops in order to strengthen the rural economy – really convinced me. During these last weeks we were mainly busy on the demonstration site preparing for the planting season .While in the Eco-Village we did our best to get in touch with people from the community. Apart from the work on the demonstration site it is really interesting to see on that most people on the neighboring farms apply the traditional mixed cropping approach. I am really curious how the farms will look in a few weeks after the rain has started and how the landscape will change.

Apart from working days, sometimes I also get the chance to spend some more days and even nights at the Eco-Village. That is the time when I mostly reflect on all the great progress Better World Cameroon has achieved over the past years. The Eco huts, cabins and dormitory where we volunteers share a room are really inspiring buildings. All the building at the ecovillage are mainly build from natural material by local volunteers under the facilitation of BWC. I hope the development of the site in such a sustainable way will go on and I wish that BWC will find motivated people to support them in the maintenance of this place of big potential. I especially see a huge challenge in keeping consistency between the organization and the community. I sometimes feel a lack of coordination which might be caused by my social and cultural background. At the same time, managing the international cooperation in order to find funding is not an easy task. I also have to acknowledge that the Eco-Village is not the only project BWC is running and this isn’t easy handling all these with such limited staff.

Personally, one big advantage of living in the Eco-Village is that I successfully adapt to the lack of resources and I get a new feeling/sense for time (time sensation).  I generally feel more patient and less pressure of efficiency. It is also very interesting to find myself a place with a group of different people, who are currently living in the Eco-Village, although I still struggle with the feeling that there is a strong group dependency, which might be caused by the different tasks people are in charge of and how the rooms are occupied.

When I think about living permanently in the Eco-Village I’m excited but at the same time I will miss a space of privacy. Though I have experienced living with someone, this case will be different because it will be for a longer period of time with more people. I wonder how it will be but I look forward to a new experience.

My ideal imagination for the Eco-Village is that it can work like a Village one day. I am conscious about the problem that BWC as a non-governmental and non-profit organization is not only responsible for running the projects but also for everything which is happening on site. But I wish that it will be possible to have a Better World Community established at the Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage and which is closely connected to the neighborhood in order to spread the idealism and the spirit from its source.

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