In July, a team of four students travelled to Cameroon to assist in the construction of a spring protection project in Mbelle Mbeke, a small village in rural Cameroon. Work carried out by Cameroon Catalyst in February clearly identified the need for improved water access in the village, and therefore the project was identified as a key intervention to improve the well-being of the community.
Chloe Taylor, a recent graduate from the University of Southampton reflects on her experience from Cameroon:
“After a year of planning, designing and fundraising with Cameroon Catalyst, it was a great feeling to finally get on the plane ready to put plans into action. Landing in a hot and sticky Yaounde airport with the most stressful baggage reclaim I had ever encountered was made so much easier, and even enjoyable, by the people who were there to meet us. All of the people we met were so kind and hospitable, I felt so welcome from day one.
Our first few days were spent working our way from Yaounde to Bambouti via Bertoa as we sourced the materials we needed for the project. After a little while at the street dedicated to water tanks, we were ready to head to Bambouti, where we would be staying, just a few minutes from Mbelle Mbeke; the spring location.
Arriving at Mbelle Mbeke was almost overwhelming with a huge welcome from the entire village. It felt like we shook the hand of every member of the community! The chief gave us an incredibly warm welcome and we briefly explained the outline of the project plans. We then saw the site where we would be working, a stagnant pond surrounded by trees; it felt like a pretty mammoth task!
Experiencing a project from conception, through design and fundraising and implementation, with all of the ups and downs along the way has been an invaluable experience for me especially as I now graduate and enter the working world. As a French student working primarily as an interpreter on the project, my language skills were put to the test. As well as lots of site-specific vocabulary (I can now talk about multiple types of spade!) my confidence in speaking and interpreting has really benefited. Putting my language skills into practice straight after graduation has given me a real insight into how I can use my languages in the future.
Being part of this project has given us all a huge number of skills: project management, organisation, but also a resourcefulness which is tested when working in Cameroon- where Google is a 4 hour drive away at an internet café, rather than at your fingertips! Working in a different environment pushes you to think on your feet and I am really proud of what we have achieved.”
Despite the success of this project, there are still thousands of people in the region who lack access to safe drinking water. Our work for the following year plans to address this issue by working with communities to develop water sources. We thank donors for the support of our work but still rely on donations to be able to continue our work.