The cooperation agreement that was signed last Friday November 18 in Yaounde is for theplacement of American agro-forestry volunteers. Heifer International Cameroon, an integrated animal-agriculture development organisation and the American Peace Corps, Cameroon last Friday November 18 in Yaounde signed Memorandum Of Understanding, MOU, to formalise their long-standing relationship to collaborate in the placement of agro-forestry volunteers by Peace Corps to live and work in communities where Heifer is assisting farmers.
The five-year renewable agreement was signed by Peace Corps Cameroon and Heifer International Cameroon Country Directors, Dr LaHoma Smith Romocki and Dr Njakoi Henry, respectively.
"It's a way of formalising a process, but not the beginning as Peace Corps and Heifer have been working together for many years. The signing of the document is the official recognition of this relationship.
The signing is also a way for us to stop, reflect on what we have been doing and think about what we want to do next," explained Dr Romocki. She said her organisation wanted to move to the next level by working with farmers to increase their ability to produce and sell their produce.
"It's fine to have good yields, but it is even more important to go beyond making money for basic needs to planning for the future of the education of one's children," she said.
« I'm a very optimistic about the future of our collaboration. We intend to increase the number of our volunteers with Heifer and really develop ways of supporting Heifer activities in all the regions.
We are really interested in supporting their expansion to the South and East Regions next year," concluded the Peace Corps Cameroon Country Director.
According to Dr Njakoi, the advantage of having Peace Corps volunteers is that they have the know-how which Heifer does not have. "Even if we had such know how, we still would still prefer them because the cost of their deployment with us is 90 per cent borne by Peace Corps," he pointed out. Peace Corps volunteers, according to him, possess technical skills in agro-forestry, small enterprise development, community health and nutrition.
But once in their host communities, they become very useful to the people as they help with health projects and teaching Mathematics and other science subjects in local schools.
They also help local communities in applying for small grants from the US Embassy for constructing and equipping classrooms and health centres. "And when such grants are promoted by volunteers, they tend to stand better chances of being accepted. This is the opportunity that we want to offer to the communities," explained Dr Njakoi.