Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Cameroon: Foreign Volunteers End Environmental Rducation Internship

The 15 students from China, Thailand, Japan, Norway, Holland, Austria and Italy, were joined by 10 others from the University of Buea in the South West Region.

Some 15 foreign students recently ended a one-month community environmental protection and sustainable development time of volunteering with the Save Your Future Association, SYFA, charity based in Nkambe, Donga Mantung Division of the North West Region. The foreign university students from China, Thailand, Japan, Norway, Holland, Austria and Italy, were joined by 10 others from the University of Buea in the South West Region.

According to the Coordinator of SYFA, Dieudonné Tantoh Nforba, his organization partnered with the International Platform for Young People to Explore and Develop their Leadership Potentials, AIESEC, to run the programme. Activities carried out by the volunteers included the training of 100 young people on environmental protection, Internet and communication technology, entrepreneurship, water, hygiene and sanitation issues. The material for the training was provided by the international students.

Volunteers also visited crop, fish and agro forestry farming groups where they encouraged the farmers to practise organic farming. The agro forestry group was educated on the importance of planting trees that help to conserve water and protect fields against soil erosion. Fish farmers on the other hand were encouraged to integrate at least three species of fish in their ponds such as carp, mud and tilapia.

Together with the Nkambe Council, local administrative and traditional authorities and community people, students carried out water catchment protection and conservation in three spring water catchments in Nkambe. More than 1,000 trees were planted with the Nkambe Council donating some of the trees for planting and fencing the catchments. In order to maintain the beauty of the SYFA Chua Chua Botanical Gardens in Nkambe, the volunteers helped in mowing and expanding it. Fencing of the garden is expected to begin next month with poles donated by Nkambe Council.

Talking about the significance of the work of the students, Dieudonné Tantoh Nforba said their presence impacted the whole community and was a challenge to rural people; especially the foreign volunteers who travelled thousands of miles to protect the environment in Cameroon. So far, SYFA has hosted 49 international volunteers, the highest being the 15 this year. The charity has now been officially registered in the USA as a 501 C 3 non-profit organization with headquarters in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

This year, SYFA Cameroon received its first ever official support from the government. The Ministry of Forest and Wildlife offered farming tools including 15 wheel barrows, two lawn mowers, a chain saw, a water pump, cutlasses, rain boots, rain coats, pick axes, spades, garden forks, files and gloves. The gifts were handed over on the occasion of the launch of the 2012 tree planting season.

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