I am TAMUNJOH Beatrice SALONG, an Engineer in Social Sciences for Development, Post-Graduate of the Higher Institute of the Sahel, University of Maroua. I have been volunteering with Better World Cameroon as coordinator for the Far-North Region office in Maroua since January 2008. I recently joined the team in the Bamenda Office.
I am now in charge of coordinating, monitoring and evaluation of the Better World Cameroon programs and activities in Bamenda/Bafut. This task gives me an overview of what the organization is intending to achieve and the various responsibilities of team members. I endeavor to see that activities are planned in an appropriate time frame and that responsibilities are given to team members according to their expertise.
The environment in Bamenda is still new to me. I am getting myself acquainted with the milieu as well as with the permaculture and ecovillage concepts.
The pressure of office work is relieved by farming days in the quiet natural environment at Ndanifor Permaculture Eco-Village Bafut. It is a pleasure for me as a member of the BWC staff to contribute in the building of a Better World for all through transmission of ethics and principles of permaculture, a way of bringing world citizens back to our FRIENDLY MOTHER NATURE.
Leaving Maroua for safety
Better World activities in Maroua in Far-North Cameroon were mostly concerning community organization, women and young girl empowerment, youth education and awareness towards the importance of organic fertilizer.
It is very sad to realize that the women and young girls of Maroua are still centuries behind as far as human rights and self-expression are concerned. Although environmental problems are very acute given the very dry and sandy nature of the land in Maroua, BWC thought it wise to start with the issue of empowering the women and young girls so as to involve them in the whole process of development. As second class humans, women and young girls of this area suffer from illiteracy, early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation.
BWC chose to sensitize these women towards their freedom and encourage them to identify and initiate income generating activities for economic independence. We had to encourage the women to become conscious of the fact that they have rights and so can participate in decisions concerning themselves and their daughters.
In the local secondary schools we worked hard to encourage girls to stay in school to obtain certificates that could help them earn a better living. This action was initiated to motivate girls to also do science subjects instead of just saying that science subjects are only for boys, girls just being made for literature. Studying science could help them become doctors for example, to help their sisters who don’t go to the hospital for fear of male doctors.
We trained women how to prepare and use organic fertilizer. Here below is a training session on how to prepare compost in order to replace chemical fertilizer. This was in Hedjer at Miskine-Miroua. And the farm you are seeing in the background is a plot for gardening with school children trained by BWC to plant vegetables that can be harvested after three weeks.
Better World has trained and empowered more than 500 women, young girls and youth in the Far-North region within the past 7 years. Many women and young girls have a future today because BWC met them along their life’s path. They have been taught how to take responsibility for their lives and how important it is to plant today in order to harvest tomorrow. They have been taught that if you don’t plant today, there will be nothing to harvest tomorrow.
It is unfortunate that I couldn’t continue this work because of the intense situation of insecurity caused in this region by Boko Haram. It is really sad to know that this part of the country, that greatly needs help to develop, is being ravaged by an unidentified enemy. Most projects have closed because it is unsafe supporting beneficiaries in conflicted areas. BWC has deemed it necessary to shut the office for a while because of this situation.
I am challenged hearing the cries of young girls and women calling for me to return to Maroua. My phone is full of messages appealing that I should come back but I don’t think it will be wise for me or BWC to take such a risk at this time.
NB: The only LAW of the World Where I come from and to Which I belong is “LOVE”, the “All for ONE-ONE for All” principle