Village Primary School AidCamp

Cameroon - November 2012

In conjunction with Strategic Humanitarian Services Northwest Province, Cameroon - 10th November – 1st December 2012

This report was written by one of the Group participants, Kev. He is a first time visitor to Cameroon and this is his first project with AidCamps International. The report is in Kev's own words and reflects his personal view of the project and what he experienced whilst in Cameroon. It sounds like he had an amazing time and I suspect he'll be returning at some point in the future!

'I have experienced a great sense of achievement that will live with me forever - that is how I sum up the whole experience of my AidCamp in Cameroon.

From the moment I got off the plane in Doula, to experiencing the culture and how the people of this beautiful country actually live and from the greetings from the school kids who welcomed us like we were the most amazing people that they had ever seen, to the sense of achievement from working alongside the local community and building up friendships with them, it was simply the most wonderful experience.  

I do not think that I really appreciated how much this trip meant to me until it was time to leave.

On arrival in Doula we stopped over night, before heading off to the accommodation and the school in Njindom. The roads were a mixture of tarmac and dirt tracks which is mostly entertaining, though in some places quite worrying. The dirt tracks can change massively if it rains heavily which it did on a couple of days during our stay. 

On arrival at the house - home for our 3 week stay - we were met by the school committee and then the children lining the road, singing and waving branches in the air. This was a very emotional moment. I personally did not feel worthy of such a greeting and as the pupils sang "We are here because of You ", all I could think was that it should be the other way around.

Our first night gave us a chance to get to know the other volunteers and sample the local food. First impressions were very good and to top it off we all had western beds, toilets and showers: cold showers but showers nonetheless! We all couldn't wait until the following day to go to the school for the first time and see the task that lay ahead.

The task was a lot more physical than any of us expected and more than the Cameroonian charity SHUMAS had had before. So it was plenty of digging and shifting for some of us, along with the locals, while others joined the local tradesmen in making clusters for the windows, pointing, painting etc. This gave us all the chance to get to know some of the local characters and our chief builder – Wilfred, who even when we all thought the task was beyond us, remained calm and positive and ultimately right, when he said that the school would be finished on time.

The best moments during construction were always when the school children came to help; causing total chaos from which order soon returned along with the inspiration to work harder.

 The great thing about this trip was that you got to meet real people; not someone put in front of you to put on a show. We were invited into their homes, shared stories and beliefs & values with them. I came away with an understanding of their culture and rituals that I would never have had if I had gone as a tourist: including meeting the Fons - the heads of local villages.

You also get a rapid appreciation of local protocol e.g. the main one being, everyone is always late and the most senior person will always be later than everyone else! But this is how the country is and in a way it shows the level of respect that they have for officials.

At the weekend we had trips to different areas of the country. This is a vast country with the most fantastic scenery; lush and green vegetation covers the land and you might think that there is no way anyone should be hungry here but they are, and this shows why the education of the next generation is so important.  If our fundraising and physical efforts mean that some of the children can give themselves a better chance in life then we will have been part of a great project.

On completion of the school we had a handing over ceremony with dancing and singing from pupils and local community groups as well as plenty of speeches from various officials. The pride we all felt from what we had achieved as a group was immense and something that I will never forget and, one day, intend to go back and experience again.  

This was not a holiday but it was the best break from the reality of home and work that I have ever experienced. Njindom and its people will always have a special place in my heart and our legacy will hopefully give its future generations a chance in life that would never have been possible.

I really believe that the 3 weeks we spent living in their town will have inspired some of the children to aspire to a better life. Thank you to all who helped organise this amazing experience and to everyone who took part.'

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