Davide Delvai, Italy 2017

Davide Delvai, Italy 2017

My goals were to help with the various activities concerning the different projects both in manual and intellectual way. My personal goals were to experience a different way of living, without all the comforts that I use to have and to
understand more my personal soft skills.

Concerning the Madiba project during the morning I was teaching to the teenager Italian and IT class. During the afternoon classes, in the hospital, I was assisting the IT and sometimes the English teachers. Regarding the WaLi project, since I do not speak French I was mostly the photographer and kind of assistant of the other member of the teams, the same for iciangoua.net.

I was completely out of my comfort zone. I tried to do my best to stay with everyone, to help during the various activities and to not complaining when there where something that I did not like.

Web&Development foundation give you the opportunity to do many things. First of all to stay in touch with the African culture, you will be immerse in a local village, where people live with few coins per days. Secondly, you will have the opportunity to teach different topics to kids, teenagers and adults, which give you the ability to see
how effective you are to explain things to people. Moreover, you will have the opportunity to sensibilise the local populations regarding some important issues, like having drinkable water in the house and the importance to be connected on the web for doing business. In addition to that, you will have the opportunity to share the house with local volunteering and from other people from all over the world. Therefore, it is a good opportunity to do something good, to help and empower people and to discover a different culture.

Davide Delvai, Italy 2017

Video in Italian

Francesca Gigliotti, Italy 2017

My goals to work with Webdevfoundation were know the new culture in the real environment and have a good experience with children and also with the others volunteers of difference country. I would like to know the real life of the persons that live so far then my city because I know several people from Africa then coming in Europe in this period and with this experience I would like to have a new informations about the real life of people in the little village.

I expected to know the Cameroonian life in the little village and the real situation of people that live in a small reality. I expected also to work with the children.

 

I participated like observator in this project:
a. Education project:
When I arrived there was a closure school party for the children, the weeks before my arriving in Bangoua others volunteers works in this project and they have organized language programs for them (English, Italian, Spanish and Chinese). There was also other project in the hospital: IT and English class.

b. WaLi:
I was also in the field for the “WaLi” project about the situation of water in the village. We went in the field and collected information with a form about domestic water situation of the village in Bangoua. This is an initial part of the project that will continue in October. This project is very interesting for help the people that live in the village to have a better live and safe life.

My experience in 10 key points:

1. Have a Cross-cultural experience
2. Know Real life in a real little village in Cameron
3. Have the opportunity to development your personal and professional life
4. Share experience with your friends when you back home
5. Have the new knowledge
6. Development own capacity to leave together and spend time to speak about the difference
culture
7. Smile with the children that weak up you with their play
8. Back home with the new experience and wonderful new friends
9. Grow up and have a new open mind
10. Have new things to share in own country

Francesca Gigliotti, Italy 2017

Susy Jian, Italy 2014 & 2017

Susy Jian, Italy 2014 & 2017

My main goal was to have an experience in education with kids and to grow personally speaking. I met Madiba project in 2014 when I was in Cameroon for another internship in an NGO working in Human Rights fields. Already three years ago I was impressed of this project because I saw how much it was concrete and how much it could really change the situation. That’s why this year, I decided to come back to this country and to get part of this project.

I expected to live in a local reality and to get in touch with a real Cameroonian village without any connection with “cities environment”. My intention was that work and create a local impact. Our team was an international team, composed by people from Cameroon, Spain and Italy. The environment was good, and we create a good working atmosphere.

I have already been in Cameroon, and I have already visited Bangoua in 2014, and I am happy about this month because I increased a lot my awareness about the situation concerning education, water issues etc in a rural area of Cameroon. This awareness contributed also to my personal growth and confirmed once again what I want to do in my future life.

It is a concrete project, and it takes you to be in contact with the real local reality of the village and I believe this makes people growth personally. Moreover, I believe that especially in the western countries, too many people need more awareness about what is happening in the work outside from their comfort zone.

During this month, I worked especially with kids, managing classes of Chinese, Italian and extra –activities. It was really nice experience because I have never worked with children and this experience increased a lot my competencies in how to work with them. A part from this, I took part of the English class for hospital workers, both for intermediate and for beginners. It was interesting to see how we have to act differently with kids and adults.

A from the educational experience, I went with my team members to interview people from the village about the water situation and also about the commercial situation of Bangoua. This made possible a direct contact with the reality of the village and increased my awareness about this part of the world.

Susy Jian, Italy 2014/2017

Beñat Aranburu, Spain 2014

Beñat Aranburu, Spain 2014
Beñat in Bekondo
Beñat (blue T-shirt) with Timothy (Yellow t-shirt), Elvis (Left) and children in Bekondo – South West of Cameroon, Summer 2014

My name is Beñat and I live in the Basque Country. Last summer, I travelled around Cameroon for a few weeks. Before going to Cameroon I had the opportunity to get in touch with Webdev Foundation, a Cameroonian NGO that is willing to help communities around the country.

Once I was in the field, I personally witnessed the work they are doing and the impact that their projects have on the local population. Webdev Foundation focuses on education, knowing that their work is going to improve living conditions of those communities in the long term.

Although their primary field of work is education, they also provide health support to those in need. Furthermore, they train young participants in IT skills, leadership, management…

I believe that visiting this projects was a once in a lifetime experience. The humanity and energy of Cameroonian people totally exceeded my expectations.

I am looking forward to travelling back to Cameroon soon and I would definitely encourage everyone to do so.

Beñat Aranburu, Spain 2014

Asan (China), 2014

Asan (China), 2014

Asanfsky Li, AIESEC ZZU

AsanI am Asan Li, I arrived in Douala, Cameroon in 10th , July,2014 and began my EP trip. It took me more than 6 hours from Douala to my intern village: Bangoua, which was located in West Cameroon. At the very start, I was scared by the total strange environment, congested bus and language obstacle. However, after reaching Bangoua, everything became good. People in Bangoua were always well-mannered and kind, you could show your smile and said Hello to every stranger. And the landscape here was also awesome, I witnessed the rainbow crossed a valley, countless stars and the Galaxy in the sky, and colorful blossoming flowers all over the plains.
What was more, I was so proud that God sent several outstanding colleagues to me. They were Clotair, my TL; Manuela, Shandy, Aristide, Gustav, Franklin, five interested Cameroonian; Stefan, a handsome Romanian boy; Clara, a brave German girl; Anna and Juana, two Columbia girls; finally, my compatriots Miranda and Sean. We constituted a big family.

YOU COULD DO EVERYTHING WITHOUT FRENCH
My work was teaching basic Chinese, English and organizing extra activities to children in the morning, basic medical English to local doctors in the evening. Sometimes there would be some bonus Chinese lessons for teenagers. There was no denying that one of the biggest challenges was that I could not speak any French. Thanks to my warm-heart Cameroonian colleagues Manuela and Shandy, they always did the translating job in my class without any complaining.

Every day in my internship was interesting and different. Children in my class were curious, energetic and creative. They had the strong desire to show themselves, especially facing my camera. Children’s nature was to play, so it was a neither too big nor too little challenge to create a quiet atmosphere in the classroom and let them remember what I just said. Sometimes they could not draw attention or could not help talking. So I tried my best to burn their fancy and make the lesson more amusing. For example, Manuela and I let them to draw a person after we taught English characters and numbers. At the same time, the element in their pictures should be what we impacted them in my class. Exceeding my expectations, their works were full of imagination and creativity. Miranda and I would play instruments to these young students if we had free time. Reward and courage was also very significant, every time children finished the task we would give them some cute pasters for reward.

As you can see, football was the soul of Cameroon, all my students, boys and girls loved football. Maybe you could not image that kids ran so fast on uneven and muddy playground with their old-shabby slippers, kicking a toy ball. I tried to jion in, but could not even touch the ball in every game.
All students of the night lesson were adults, so it was not easy to teach them. Medical English was a brand new field for me, every day I spent lots of time to collect useful information for the PPT, but every lesson they would point out some mistakes. In fact, it was an important part in the lesson. All of us could acquire new knowledge and became each others’ teachers. My “big” students were outgoing and interested in interacting with me. I would make up some conversations between doctors and patients and asked them to play a role in. They regarded conversations as a fascinating game and always got fun. Some of them even wanted to learn Chinese, in contrast, they taught me a little bit basic French.
YOU COULD NOT DO ANYTHING WITHOUT FRENCH
As I said that earlier, it was not easy for me to live in a French speaking country. You could be beat easily by some small stuff. For instance, I wanted to buy a bottle of Cola in a small shop. However, the owner of the shop and I could not get each other. After lots of disordered gestures, I went out with a bottle of juice.
Particularly in our work, I could not do anything when Shandy or Manuela were absent. Most of children here could not speak English. In August we had a medical project, which every volunteer had to serve in Bangoua hospital and communicate with patients. It was a piece of cake for Anna, Juana, Clara and other French speaker but a big difficulty for Chinese guys. The whole day we just say Hello to patients with “Frenlish” and embarrassed smile. At the same time, Juana has registered more than patients and got their temperature data.
SEE AND UNDERSTAND DIFFERENT CULTURES
Cameroon was composed by more than 200 kingdoms. Every kingdom had different tradition and costume. I’ve seen 3 kings and visited several kingdoms. Fortunately, my colleague Manuela was a daughter of the king of Babaouantou kingdom. We were invited to attend the “notable people celebration” of this kingdom in 17th, August. I got a wonderful chance to feel Cameroon culture and participated in the celebration. In the morning, some kind old ladies taught me how to peal cook-plantain in their traditional kitchen. After a hearty lunch, we witnessed parts of the mysterious ceremony in the celebration: a notable person was surrounded by her family members, they played traditional song and dance together. Then the notable people began to give out “lucky salt” and “lucky rice” to participants. In the evening we went through to the rain forest for night party. Everything was so interesting and attracting to me. What was more, I got so much valuable information for my studying area: archaeology and anthropology.

DO A LITTE “MAGNIFICENT FEAT ”
Other friends and I decided to donate blood in 19th, August. It was my fifth time to donate blood. At the beginning of blood donation, something wrong happened: doctors could not get any blood from my blood vessel, they tried so many times that my arm began to swell. Lucky, finally I donated 450cc blood successfully. I was very happy that my blood would save someone’s life.
TRY A BRAND NEW LIFE
So many guys asked me, why I choose Cameroon. My answer was: everything in Cameroon was different from China. I could try a brand new life, took a rest from my daily university life and touched the world outside, joint in another people’s at another corner in the earth. And then, that was what I wanna say to all guys who want to be a global volunteer in Cameroon:
Don’t hide your smile: Cameroon is a place where you can feel the kind and gentle relationship among people. Strangers will greet you on your way home, in a small bar, or at the corner of street. So just show your smile to everyone you meet.
Remember every unique moment: Maybe you can’t find another chance to share a TAXI with 12people, grind peanuts with stone millstone, take motorcycle and “fly” on the small muddy path, taste “weird” fruit, dredge sewer for a king, watch “star sea” in jungle…treasure every moment in Cameroon, and it would be your unforgettable experience.
Forget who you were: Try to do everything new and to be a real Cameroonian. You can play drum with children, eat conventional breakfast with French bread, order a bottle of beer in bar and dance with African music…

Asan (China), 2014

Miranda (China), 2014

Miranda (China), 2014

???????????????????????????????I was very glad to be in the team of the Webdev Foundation. I spent 4 weeks with lots of great partners: Asan, Manuela, Shandy, Stefan, Sean, Anna, Juana, Clara, Franklin, Aristide, Jason, Song, Stephen, Gustav, Gildas and our chief Clotaire. I had a very great time, and together we did a lot of jobs here. This could be one of my best experience in my life.

I worked with Asan to teach the kids basic Chinese words. Like cloth, animals, food, verbs and so on. We combined Chinese words with pictures, and interacted with the kids, making the class more active and fun.

I also did the extra activities part with kids. I usually work with Sean, Asan and Clara on this part. If we do it outdoor, we have to come up of lots of games to play with the kids. Kids are really active and never get tired when they play. We used up all our ideas to play with them! But still I love to play with them, they are active and energetic. They are also clever, after they know the rule, they can quickly take part in the game and play very well. The games are good for children, they can learn a lot when playing.

We did the cultural exchange in class and Global Village.
1) Cultural Exchange in class
I did this one time with Asan. We talked about different regions in China. I especially introduced my hometown, such as food, famous sights and pandas. I showed them videos. The children were very interested.
I think this is a very good opportunity for kids to learn outside world and open up their eyes, and also for me a good chance to make others to know about my culture and hometown. We can know each other better by doing this.
2) Global Village
Global Village took place in the market. Our team is Stefan, Stephen, Jason, Sean, Anna and I. But actually we only introduced China and Romania.
I and my Chinese partners talked about China and Chinese culture with PPT. A lot of people listened our talking, and paid a lot of attention. Some of them are really interested. After the talking, I shared some pasters of China national flag with the people.

We spent a whole week sharing fliers, letting people know about our free body test in the hospital for people. The job was a tough one, we all had to go a long way and share it to every one. But at least we did something.
Then we helped in the hospital for the testing day. Every one had a job. Asan、Song and I were like directors leading people get registered. The work was a challenge for us because we can’t speak French. But at last we made it, and we’re happy for that.

I made a lot of friends, maybe we will be in different places around the world, but our friendship never end. I will also miss the friends I’ve met here, especially those crazy ones ^_^!

Miranda (China), 2014

Clara Huelskemper (Germany), 2014

Clara Huelskemper (Germany), 2014

Clara1I enjoyed working with the international team very much, and I am sure that the students, too, enjoyed the cultural exchange. Sessions like Chinese were only possible with the Chinese volunteers. However, I do think that in the next years there should be more French lessons for the volunteers. They were very dependent on the French speakers, during classes and simply to go to the market.

I am very thankful for the opportunity to take part in the Bangoua Summer School 2014. I spent two and a half wonderful, varied and exciting weeks with nice and interesting people. I will remember for a long time.

Thank you!
Clara Huelskemper, volunteer July 30th – August 16th 2014

Onome Samuel (Nigeria), 2013

Onome Samuel (Nigeria), 2013

???????????????????????????????The working relation was a mixture of pressure and also relaxed. There were times things got dragging and there also times things were running smooth. In general, the supervision from the CEO shows a great deal of leadership.

The works of the organization is perhaps a saving grace to the people in the rural areas where the project is being held. So many people are educated in aspects they never believed to get. They say the success of an organization lies in the strength of the different teams that makes up the organization.

On this note, I strongly believe that the strength of WEBDEV lies vastly in the volunteers. I could say its weakness is the language barrier. So long as there will be different people with different backgrounds working on a particular project, the issue of understanding one another comes into play.

The success therefore lies in the leadership of the coordinator, ensuring that everyone understands and get connected to the goal. The success also lies in the volunteers, you have got to move outside the zone that comforts you, learn about your colleague, make life better and see things differently.

For me, I’ll say Summer 13 was a success, lives of the young, the teenagers, the youth as well as the old were touched and educated but again, we can still do better come Summer 14.

Onome Samuel (Nigeria), 2013

Aska Czechowska (UK & Poland), 2013

Aska Czechowska (UK & Poland), 2013
Getting on the project:
Finding the project was rather tricky as it would not come up when I was searching the internet for volunteering in Africa. One of my friends mentioned doing work exchange as a part of her university and I used that phrase to search. Eventually I came across a student exchange blog entry that pointed me towards AIESEC on the Polish speaking internet. AIESEC is an international student organisation that can support potential candidates with finding a project to go volunteering on shorter projects, or do a longer project and get paid. When I registered with AIESEC, I was given access to their database of projects taking place around the world, and that is how I found the project with WEBDEV in Bangoua.Once I was ‘matched’ with my chosen project, I received information booklet about the project and what I need to prepare before coming. All participants were asked to raise materials and money to contribute to the project. Toys, notebooks and stationary were the things that I brought with me. These were then used during the summer camp sessions as well as to be given out at the end of the project as presents.
The project:
I participated in the project from the second week (15th July 2013) to the end of the project (23rd August 2013) as the only international member, who was there for the whole time, and I saw people coming and going throughout the project duration. I think that by remaining on the project until the end has really been a positive influence on the project itself – I was someone who could provide continuity – as well as on the newly arriving interns, as I was there to welcome them and talk about what has been going on.

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Picture: Global village and campaign spreading awareness of malaria, cholera and HIV/ AIDS in our local weekly market.

I came onto the project as a newly qualified primary school teacher, so as a part of my qualification I was already used to standing in front of a group of people/ a class and do public speaking, taking into consideration the voice projection and the body language. The fact that I had had the relevant experience prior to the project did not necessarily mean that I found the session planning and delivery easy. Quite the opposite I would say, as I had very high expectations of myself and of what I wanted the sessions to look like. My pre-existing expectations of myself and my practice were, however, based on what is available in the country where I normally teach (UK) and it was rather unlikely that I would be able to fulfil those in Cameroon.

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Picture: on the way to the classroom.

Firstly, my French is not good enough to deliver a session independently, so I had to learn how to work with a translator, and to ensure that the content translated is the same as the content delivered by me. This was tricky at times – a learning curve both for me and the French speaking facilitator. The lack of French also meant that my motivational talk with the students had to be limited, as every word I wanted to say would have to be translated.

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Picture: IT session in progress.

Secondly, the resources available are the resources that the interns bring with them, so that I had to be very creative and I wished I had researched better before the project and had known more about the sessions with children so that I could bring the appropriate didactic aids (e.g. big, plastic tooth/ teeth for teeth brushing presentation etc.).

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Picture: group photo after discussion about being healthy and sick.

If I could do the project all over again I would have set my expectations of my practice slightly lower to make them more achievable and realistic in the given circumstances, without feeling disheartened. It was not until I was writing the end of the project report that I realised how much input I actually had into the project and I felt a bit happier about it all. During the project, I had to learn to go with the flow and to enjoy it without asking too many questions. And this skill of letting it go and not stressing about things that I cannot change – the lack of resources, inability to speak French; is something I will take with me back home. Hopefully it will enable me to create a healthier work- life balance to the one I had before coming to Cameroon, as life goes on even if not all of my lessons are perfect.

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Picture: taxi ride to the local kingdom! We had 7 people there, excluding the driver :-) the most people in 1 small taxi I’ve experienced, was 10 (excuding the driver).

Timing was another factor that I had to work with and did not always find it easy. Timing goes hand in hand with the concept of “going with the flow” & “letting it go”. Our western approach to life, based on constant chase after something and close relationship with our watch and our mobile phone/ laptop is so far away from my experiences of Bangoua. For the first time in my life I could relax and not worry if things were not happening at the planned time. For the first time in my life, I had nearly 2 weeks with no access to the Internet (out of choice not the unavailability). Initially, I felt completely cut off and lost, but after a few days I did not feel the need to check my email and Facebook all the time. The sensation of newly found freedom and enjoyment of ‘here and now’ with the people in the house was a totally new experience. Not having the access to the outside world was a blessing in disguise as I could truly appreciate and enjoy my time with the other interns, without drifting back home while stuck to the computer screen & the internet.

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Picture: the view from our garden: relax and enjoy the tranquillity

Accommodation and leaving arrangements could be another potential challenge for some. All volunteers (Cameroonians and the internationals) lived in the project house in Bangoua. The house and the garden were almost idyllic, with the running water, electricity and gas, as well as the beautiful view from the garden. The difficulty for me was to adjust to being with so many people all of the time: the house was never empty. I shared a bedroom with a Cameroonian lady, which took some getting used to (I don’t normally have to share my bed) but quickly become one of the bright sides of the project, as we got on well and I had someone to talk to if I was feeling home sick. While living in Bangoua, I did not appreciate the running water as it was cold and meant a cold shower. But later on, when visiting different parts of Cameroon, I realised that not everywhere people have running water all the time, and I felt grateful for the facilities we had in the Bangoua’s house.

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Picture: the end product of the community work morning :-)

One of the instant challenges that I experienced unexpectedly, was learning to let people go when I am still to remain on the project. It was difficult to begin with and I remember being upset when somebody left to go back home; but with time and more people coming and going, I learnt to handle that, while hanging on to the positives and focusing  on the project.

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Picture: the project house in Bangoua.

Having the opportunity to work with people from different countries, to chat and exchange opinions and experiences was also great. This has given me a chance to learn a little bit about the life in their country as well as to make new friends and possibly have people to visit in the future, when I go travelling. It has been refreshing for me to be able to work and observe the Cameroonian children and teenagers, and I could notice the similarities and differences between them and the young people in Europe. One of the biggest contrasts was perhaps the fact that the children/ adolescent did not seem to spend much time indoors playing games or watching TV, but they were outside most of the time playing with their friends or working – selling on the street, helping parents with chores or siblings, working on a farm. It was also interesting to watch how a toddler would not only be looked after by their immediate family members but also the extended family, family friends and neighbours. If this was the case in England, I probably would be willing to have children sooner.

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Picture: the main classroom – end of the project celebrations.

Cameroon was full of surprises to begin with, and in the initial weeks I often wondered if I made the right decision of going to Cameroon for over 2 months. Yet, when looking back at the project, I feel happy & privilaged that I was able to take part, to interact with the other people there and to add my little touches to the sessions and the time spent in the house. If I could travel back in time, I would do it all over again as it has been very rewarding, full of reflections and food for mind. Bangoua was a great place to get to know and appreciate the type of life led in a village and the challenges that the people are faced with on the everyday basis. Going on the ECO Trips during and at the end of the project to Foumban, Dschang, Limbe, Monkey Sanctuary and Kribi was also beneficial for me to experience the town lifestyle and to enjoy some of the best touristic places in Cameroon. After the project I also went to Yaounde (the capital city), which has been a real eye-opener. This is when I first really realised that not all Cameroon is like Bangoua and not all Cameroonians are the same. My stay in Cameroon was well worth the effort and money, and I sincerely hope I will be able to go back there for more.

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Picture: bird view on Yaounde (from the rooftop panoramic bar of the Hilton Hotel).

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Picture: black beach near Limbe.

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Picture: Monkey Sanctuary in Pongo Songo.

Aska Czechowska (UK & Poland), 2013

Sabina Li (China), 2013

Sabina Li (China), 2013

Sabina_Li2Before I went to cameroon, it’s totally a blank to me.Although there were a lot of message came to me,I knew that’s not true,there are still lots of misunderstanding of africa,so one of my goal is to explore the real africa by myself.

And also,there were lots of volunteering I can do in china,why I choose to went to africa,that’s maybe the most inportant goal:to see how I would be when I am in an environment which is totally different.I have to face the differences on culture/life habits/food/communication…all kinds of things.It’s also a experience to explore myself.

… I saw a true africa,a true cameroon by myself and it really make sense to me.I realize that everyplace is special that no one can easily make a jugdment.People have their own life style and it’s no use to say this one is better than that one.

Sabina_Li1I learned to live with people who is from totally different background and environment.Although I had some trouble with some volunteers during the internship,I learned to accept but not complain,and finnaly I made a lot of friends there.

And also, I really enjoy and be proud of my chinese class,when I walking in the village and seeing the students,they always call me “sabina” and greet me in chinese,like “你好”、”早上好”.I think it’s also a chance for me to reconsider me to be a chinese.At least,I feel perfect when I represented China in the global village.

“I think I don’t care whether life there is comfortable or not,but I do care how much I would learn from the experience.”

Sabina Li (China), 2013