by Simon Haage
Hi I’m Simon, 18 years old and from Germany. I’m Better World Cameroon’s (Bamenda) new volunteer for the upcoming year. Originally I’m from Freiburg, a city in the far southwest of Germany and by the way hometown of Volker Finke. I finished high school in June and I’m planning to study psychology as soon I’m back in Germany, but for now, the focus is on BWC. I decided to do voluntary service because of three reasons; I wanted to do something else than studying the whole time, to do something that makes sense and maybe a difference and I wanted to live in another society than our European society. The BWC project immediately caught my interest because I’m very interested in ecological and developmental issues.
I arrived in Cameroon in the middle of August. My first contact with BWC and my tutor, Sonita, was at the mini EDE seminar at the Ndanifor Permaculture Ecovillage in Bafut. It was an interesting and intense experience, and in my eyes, the best way to learn more about the Organization. I had the feeling that after the seminar, everyone was exhausted and needed rest, understandable, but quite a bad coincidence. Because I couldn’t wait to find my own place in BWC. In fact I did just basic stuff in the beginning, like cutting a movie for the EDE seminar and the international summer work camp. Later on, Leona and I got a new task. We did some preparation for our upcoming Ecological Empowerment project. It is a great feeling, being part of a project right at the beginning. Last week, our Environmental-Education-Project started. We were going to create a student’s work-group, and plan a nine weeks program. Theoretical topics include how to fight deforestation and practical parts, like nursing trees. We’ll see how it works out.
BWC to me is an organization with great, idealistic, goals to create a better future. I cannot talk about my own experiences in this case, but I’m pretty sure, that there will be change for the local farmers. The atmosphere in the office is always good and friendly, especially the morning check- ins are great and give you a supported feeling. The hard work to fundraise money amazed me. I never imagined that it is that difficult for a NGO to find partners.
Also, I discovered Cameroon as a great country, with very open and friendly people. Sometimes it’s almost too real for me, to think that I’m going to stay here for a whole year. And I’m very grateful for the opportunity. If I say that everything here is easy, that will be a lie. Because I’m new, I sometimes have problems socializing. But I believe time will solve this. As a white, the attention is always on me while walking the streets. That can be annoying, but it already became less disturbing for me.
It is quite a cultural shock. But everything becomes easier from day to day. I think the year is going to be awesome!