Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Who is the judge? The judge is God.


"Who is the judge? The judge is God.
Why is it God? Because He decides who wins or loses not my opponent .
Who is your opponent ? He does not exist.
Why doesnt he exist? Because he is a mere dissenting voice of the truth that I speak !" 

- A chant that I paraphrased and modified (to revamp my faith and focus on God) from the movie "The Great Debaters." 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chaos in war, grateful in peace

I knew ‪war‬ was wrong. But after an hour discussion with a Central African brother who just came to Cameroon from ‪‎CAR‬, I realized that there is no reason to ever get into war. He told me, he doesn't live in his duplex/villa because from his 2nd floor he can see armed guys in the streets; children have grenades and can throw it anyhow. He said he leaves his big house to gather with neighbors around a tree at night (like guerillas) to see where the "trouble-makers" are coming from. He had to send his children to another country for their safety. He said he hadn't had a good sleep like the one he did yesterday night in Cameroon, since over year. 

He explained to me the complexity of the conflict, how war has transformed a man into a carnivore after he witnessed his wife's pregrant stomach torn apart by Seleka guys and her foetus removed and killed; he expressed his sadness at the fact that people in villages who had never thought of killing, are now machette killers. 

The situation is getting better, but there are so many open wounds that have not yet scarred. If the root-causes are not addressed, the country will have a superficial peace. 

As I walked down the streets to bid him goodbye, I looked at my environment : the sun shining, cars cruising, people laughing, birds whistling, me thinking about my lamest "problems" (talk about problems! smh) ... I just stayed for one minute in gratitude, thanking God for the things I take for granted. I thanked the Lord for peace. Just for that peace, we must thank God, 'cause right next door people don't even have the luxury to walk-around, to "do lunch," and even to sleep with both eyes closed. 



Monday, January 13, 2014

Four Pillars for Kids

My thought of the day:

The four pillars I wish to engrain in the kids I hope God will bless me and my future husband with,are: 

#1: The ‪#‎GoldenRule- Doing unto others what they would want to be done unto them. In other words, I would love to have them learn how to be aware of other people around them, how to be loving, encouraging, kind and giving. 

#2: #‎AUTHENTICITY‬ ; Being true to oneself. I hope they can experience with life; question themselves, question life, be awake and be aware of life; and discover themselves, their passion, their purpose in the process. But through it all, I hope they remain free to express their thoughts, feelings, emotions ...to me (at the very least. lol) 

#3: How to gracefully ‪#‎DealWithRejection‬ , setbacks, failures and challenges in life. The tough times will come, the challenges will come, the hard times will definitely come. I just hope I could teach my future-kids ways to learn from each setback; to build from each error; to transform their tests into testimonies, to see the glass half full; to let their emotions out and cry out for a day or two, but pick themselves up and try again. I hope my future-husband and myself will teach them sooner rather than later, ways to deal gracefully with rejection and failures.

#4:  To ‪#‎TrustGod‬ _ Through out the above three processes, I wish to help my future-kids build a solid and intimate relationship with God (independent of religious practices). So that in whatever they do, they may always be assured of, and rely on His unfailing love and plans for their lives. Because with #4 all the other 3 points are achievable. 



‪#‎EndOfThought(Jan. 13. 2014) 


* I hope to look back at this in 2024 (Inch'Allah) and compare my current dream to my future reality. 

** Kuddos and much respect to all the responsible parents out there : Giving life and building the life of a human being ain't easy. I have much respect for you all.**

Friday, December 6, 2013

Papa Nelson : Merci infiniment .

These are not times of mourning, these are times for Celebrations and Thanksgiving, for God granted us 95 years of Madiba's life of Impact and inspiration. 

He has led by example, so today we must not be mourning, we should be determined to follow his positive actions in honor of him, and live through his legacy. 

The following posts are excerpts from friend's fb posts that resonated with how I feel about Madiba. 

- Madiba, may your soul rest in perfect peace!

-----  By Dr Cornel West : " You can't lead the people if you don't love the people. You can't save the people if you don't serve the people." 





 ----- From Salmah Rizvi  :  " Mandela fought for freedom, fought for equality, fought for justice, fought for dignity, fought for love, fought for life. For that they called him terrorist. Rest in (peace) power fighter, political prisoner, free one." - by Noura Erakat (Palestinian human rights activist)





-----  By Stephanie Otou : " The only thing I may ever have to cross off my bucket list before accomplishing is meeting #Mandela. He was a gift to Humanity. Our greatest common denominator. A raceless, colorless,ageless gift, one we shall forever sherish. May his soul rest in peace. Love, Steph"




 ---------  From Idris Ayo Bello

The conversation between President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela below summarizes the spirit and essence of Madiba : Why his life, words, and decisions inspired so many to "do better" and to "be better."




Madiba, you are still present in our hearts, 

in my heart... 




Your  gracious posture in the poster on the wall-of-heroes in my room  reminds me every morning to aspire to act like you; to have a powerful vision and to pursue the vision despite the multiple setbacks and challenges. 

Thank you for the inspiration. Thank you for being such a great role model. Thank you for your lovely biography. Thank you for the humor, when I think of your childhood stories in Umtata (playing in the fields with animals, the circumcision episode. aie!). Thank you for being such a great writer, and having writing styles I inspired myself from many times. Like with the other biographies that I read, I took the time to retype all the notes I had underlined from "Long Walk to freedom."  I have forged my character, thanks to your own words/experiences/lessons learned within your biography. 

Two of the many lessons that helped me develop my values and principles, are from 2 experiences you lived at Fort Hare : 

1. On Justice: 
(After a serious tug-of-war with the seniors to have some freshmen represented in the House committee, when you won, you said this) :  "This was one of my first battles with authority, and I felt the sense of power that comes from having right and justice on one’s side." p. 46

2. On Self-discipline and patience: 
"Running taught me valuable lessons. In cross-country competition, training counted more than intrinsic ability, and I could compensate for a lack of natural aptitude with diligence and discipline.I applied this in everything I did. Even as a  student, I saw many young men who had great natural ability, but  who did not have the self-discipline and patience to build on their endowment." p. 46.


Thank you for your genuine spirit, for your integrity,  and your gift of your "self" to a cause grander than yourself.


Thank you Papa Mandela. 


Adieu, et que ton ame repose en paix! 



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

About GIVING


My Thought Of The Day : About Giving 


Every single person has the ability to GIVE . In any of our relationships (friend-to-friend, child-to-parent, sibling-to-sibling, employer-to-employee, rich-to-poor, God-to-Humans)  We must always remind our 'selves' to never position ourselves as "the sole receiver." Giving is Living. Even when/if we are penniless, we can give of our time, smile, positive energy, attention to someone else. Let's avoid to catch the syndrom of "eternal-receiver." Let us always remember that we can give something to someone else; let us remember to have a giving hand and heart. 

---- FR

Ma pensée du jour: Donner

Chaque personne a la capacité de donner. Dans chacune de nos relations (ami à ami, d'enfant à parent, frère à frère, employeur à employé, riche à pauvre, Dieu à l'Homme) nous devons toujours nous rappeler à nos «moi» de ne jamais se positionner comme " seul récepteur." Donner, c'est la vivre. Même quand/si nous sommes sans le sou, nous pouvons donner de notre temps, sourire, énergie positive, attention à quelqu'un d'autre. Evitons d'attraper le syndrome de "l'éternelle-réceveur." Rappelons-nous toujours que nous pouvons donner quelque chose à quelqu'un d'autre; rappelons-nous d'avoir une main et un cœur ouvert au don de soi.


(image source: www.restorechurch.net )

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Ode to Love

Love so deep, so sweet,
so stupid, so real;
so emotional, so unconditional, 
so challenging, so amazing, 
A love that sinks through your pores, 
A love so passionate, it's hard to talk about, to describe, to express, 
Outside of your love realm. 
A love so empowering, so comforting;
It is, truly, what it is. 
And one can only pray, for the All-mighty and All-knowing God to protect its authenticity. 
And one can only pray, for the universe to conspire to its infinity. 
And one can only utter ...softly, deeply, tenderly ...what our Muslim brothers and sisters would say, Masha'Allah!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

125 Women Of Impact in the World

It's been exactly one month since three U.S. Magazines (The Daily Beast, Newsweek, and Women in the World) published a list of 125 Women of Impact in the World, in which they featured me and my work in Cameroon - boosting university students in creating business. 

It has been such an honor for me to be listed by these magazines, along with some of my role models such as Oprah Winfrey, Queen Rania of Jordan, and writer Chimamanda Adichie. 


To be honest, I am still very much of a hustler - quite far from attaining my vision (to contribute in a highly-impactful and quantifiable way to job creation, entrepreneurship promotion, and investment in early-stage startups in the Central Africa region, i.e. Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, Congo-Brazza, Equatorial Guinea, and Central African Republic). My team and I are still trying to boost youths on the ground to think in a more entrepreneurial mindset and to dare to develop projects and propose business solutions to solve local problems - we are encouraged by the responses we get (from social media : facebook & twitter) and by the variety of projects proposed by some of the students we engage. 

Although this international recognition is an absolute honor, it does not mean I have "reached" the heights of impact as the high-caliber women I have been featured with.  I see it as a recognition of the work we do in Cameroon and equally as a booster to keep pushing, hustling and empowering our peers in Cameroon (and in the near future, other youths in the other central Africa countries). 

Creating an enterprise is a tough challenge; and initiating a new social-enterprise paradigm in a developing country, with a francophone-culture, could be even tougher because as I have blogged about before, among other things, there are very few documented stories of people who have done things similar before. So, with the multiple setbacks I have faced in the past years (and of which I have blogged about before - the frustrations, thefts, and setbacks) and with the many challenges we face on the day-to-day basis, it is refreshing to know we have big champions cheering us, encouraging our efforts and shining some light on what we do. For that, I am infinitely thankful!


 
Follow the link : http://www.thedailybeast.com/witw/galleries/2013/03/28/women-in-the-world-125-women-of-impact-photos.html#4809dade-40e0-46ce-875f-abdcf1747290 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Top-20 Solutionneurs 2013

I'm glad to present the Top-20 social-business that qualified to our "Solutionneurs" 2013 social-business program.
Below is an overview of the projects proposed, and the links that would lead you to view each project idea, and vote for them.

---- Get to know them ---

View the Top-20 social businesses here, and vote for your favorite project on our facebook project-album. "Like" the project(s) you like the best. If you have anny comments or feedback, do not hesitate to share. (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.593858773958427.1073741826.117639504913692&type=1&l=1cff0d8242)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Opportunity to share experience and ambitions.

It's on the 29th of December, 2012 (a day after our business-seminar in Douala) that Beth - editor at The Next Women Magazine, contacted the Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance to request an interview from me, as the theme in January was Africa. I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts. So, after submitting my MBA applications early January, and attending the inauguration of the "Water is Life" EWB-Bamendjou project, I responded to their interview questions, which they published on their website 3 weeks ago.

Today, I am surprised at the thousands of people who have read and the hundreds of those who have shared my story on social media.

Some of the things I would have liked to mention/clarify is that:
- Harambe Cameroon does not claim to be the first social enterprise in Cameroon, but the first social entrepreneurship program , i.e. a program to train people (mostly youths) and stimulates them to be social entrepreneurs. We take them from their knowledge of entrepreneurship and we engage them to develop social-businesses in a concerted and strategic way. As I mentioned in the interview, many people in Cameroon are social entrepreneurs without being conscious of it. Harambe-Cameroon, since 2009 consciously engages youths (through our various programs, info-sessions, competitions, and business seminars) to be social entrepreneurs.  

- I also omitted to mention one of the worldwide notable Cameroonian social entrepreneur, Gisele Yitamben, president of ASAFE - mentioned in the Social Entrepreneurship classic How to change the world - social entrepreneurs and the power of new ideas by David Bornstein, 
She is one of the pioneer social entrepreneurs in Cameroon.

With that, I invite you to Click on this link to read the entire interview...


Friday, January 11, 2013

Water is Life_The Genesis_EWB UDel in Bamendjou.


On Monday, January 14th, the Ambassador of the United States of America will be in Bamendjou!!! It will be the official launching of the "Water supply and solar-powered distribution system" project, which has provided access to clean water to about 5,000 people in the village. The project was started in June 2007 by the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) chapter of the University of Delaware (UDel) in collaboration with the community of the village of Bamendjou, Hauts-Plateaux, West, Cameroon.


I remember the beginning of the project like it was yesterday. It was about six years ago, in February 2007, I met with Julie Trick, then the president of the EWB chapter of (UDel), for brunch at the Baltimore Museum of Art to discuss the water-supply project I had emailed to their chapter, and to help them with the logistics of their first trip (in June 2007) to Cameroon.

Actually,
the project started a little bit earlier than that. In April 2006, while still a freshman at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), we had the visit of EWB on campus. Out of curiosity, I went to that information session on EWB, their goals, mission, actions, etc. At the end of the presentation, I asked them "What do you do to have EWB come to your community?" They told me "Write a proposal and submit it to an EWB chapter. The project proposal must come, however, from the community in need of engineering solution." I don't think they knew I had digested their words, and in my mind, I was going to tap into the resources EWB had to offer. 



After their visit, I called my dad in Cameroon, and asked him "dad, is there a community need engineers can help us resolve in Cameroon?" He said, of course, there are so many problems, one in particular was the lack of access to clean drinkable water in the village of Bamendjou, specifically in Bakang. This lack of access to clean drinkable water led people to drink infected water, and contract water-borne diseases such as dysentry, typhoid and cholera. I was shocked that in 2006, we still had cases of preventable, yet life-threatening diseases such as those. So, with half-a-dozen of engineer-students, who decided to establish an EWB chapter in WPI, I proposed the project of clean-water-addition in Bamendjou to them. 



In the summer of  2006 I returned to Cameroon, and participated in a conference : African Solutions to African Problems (ASAP), an International Engineers Conference held in Yaounde, Cameroun organized by the Alumni of the Advanced National School of Engineering (ENSPolytech) . We spoke there mainly about the responsibility engineers have to address and solve local problems. Boosted by my interaction with hundreds of engineers, who came from all over Cameroon, but also 8 other African countries, and the EWB from Colorado University; I was challenged to do something that will solve a local problem. During that summer, my father, Mr Toukam (the technical director of his civil engineering company) and I drafted the project proposal for the Bamendjou Water Addition project. That summer though, I received news from the Johns Hopkins University that I was admitted as a transfer student into the school. This academic change halted my initial actions with the EWB-chapter of WPI. 


When I arrived at Hopkins that fall 2006, I looked for the EWB club on campus. I attended one meeting, after which I tried to meet with its president, Maya, to whom I proposed the project in Cameroon. Unfortunately, the Hopkins EWB chapter already had 4 projects at hand (in South Africa, Equator, Honduras, and another country I can't remember). However, Maya told me (something like) : "I know of a new EWB chapter that opened in University of Delaware, they might be looking for a project, I can connect you with their president, and you try to pitch your project to them." And so she did. I introduced myself to Julie, told her about the serious need for the project, she told me she will propose it to their chapter, and they'll get back to me. This was in November 2006, I think. The EWB of UDel got back to me, and we started exchanging via email, and then phone on the details of the project. So in February when Julie and I met for brunch, the meeting was to plan their trip in Cameroon in June 2007. 



I returned to Cameroon end of May 2007, and in early June, when Mathias and I went to pick them at the Douala International Airport, I could not believe it! Somehow, until that point, the project was still a project in my head, and I did not fully grasp that six Americans will embark on this adventure in "Africa" based on an idea I had submitted to them on a piece of paper.

June 2007 : The EWB of UDel team at the Douala International Airport. 

 For five of the six engineers, it was their first trip to Africa. Really, I was amazed that they trusted the importance and viability of the project, to make such leap into a "no-man's-land." That was the beginning of the 6 years project that brought about 28 EWB of UDel engineers (civil, mechanical, environmental, chemical) to Cameroon to setup the water addition project in Bamendjou. 

In Bamendjou, June 2007, after a day of hardwork the EWB team pose with my dad and myself. 



EWB students working with men in Bamendjou.


From then on, I have had more of a facilitator role in the project - helping the engineers with letters of invitation to Cameroon, transportation from the airport, boarding in Yaounde, car-rental for 2 weeks, ensuring room and board for two weeks in the village, and connecting them to the right people in Cameroon. The engineers and the community people have done all the thinking, labor, ground-work, to make this project a reality for 5,000 people in the village.







In addition, Bamendjou and the city of Newarck, Delaware have signed Sister-city agreements to collaborate together in other initiatives and projects.





On Monday, January 14th, 2013, we will officially inaugurate the project, with the Cameroonian government and the American government representative, to illustrate, among other things, the impact that can be made when communities from 2 countries come together to solve human challenges. 






I'm deeply happy by the way this idea on a piece of paper has developed a life of itself, and has been transformed into a life-long, sustainable, scalable and blueprint project for other rural communities in Cameroon and other African countries. 


Academic paper written by Dr Steve Dentel, 4 years after the project (in 2011)


More pictures here : https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.503242531062.2014079.29103130&type=1&l=be4d4fb17c

 -----


January 14th, 2013 :
We organized the launching ceremony of the water project in Bamendjou. U.S. Ambassador Jackson and his wife made the trip to Bamendjou; as well as the GiZ, the chief of Bahouan, and notable Cameroonian businessmen and CEOs. 



The ceremony was buoyant! The energy was so positive! The populations prepared gifts they gave to the American Ambassador, then to the Engineers Without Borders; and to my utmost suprise, the M.C called my name on the mic', he said I should get ready to receive my "gift." I got up and stood infront of all the people gathered for the event. My Harambe collegue, Olivier Ekounda (who took 4 days off, to come to the village (and also discover the West region of Cameroon) with me) came up with me. 

 We were wondering what the gift was... and one of the chiefs of Bakang (a village of Bamendjou) opened a large-feather crown. He said, for all I had done to  bring clean water to Bamendjou, Him and the chief of Batoungouong, are giving me the honorary title of "Mah'Fo" (Queen), more specifically "Mah'fo Si" (The Queen God Sent). They explained, because the community cannot reward me materially for this project that has provided access to clean water to about 5,000 people, they give me the title of "Mah'Fo."  To be honest, I don't fully know what being a Mah'fo entails. But, amongst other thing, they told me : now, I can dance with the other queens of the village; and wherever I go (ceremonies in the village or outside) the will always give me a honorary place/seat. They blessed me with a big descendance, so that, as the chief said: "my grand children's children may  harvest the fruits of my good actions." They praised, blessed, and thank me. It was truly humbling!


I had to do a Mah'fo dance, so I just went with the rythm. lol 

Then I posed for a picture with the 2 chiefs and Mayor Mukam :) 


And then with the warm and cheerful Mrs Jackson, wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Cameroon.


And finally with my support system, my dearest people who made it to Bamendjou for the ceremony, and who were witnesses to my entitlement as Mah'Fo.  

Charlie Wandji , Mommy, Mrs Jackson, Myself, and Yannick Ngondiep
What more can I say? add? express? I thank God. I thank Him for His amazing Grace and His divine Favor in my life. I thank Him for using me as His instrument of love, joy and warmth. There is still sooo much to be done though, and I am, as usual, on multiple projects (check out my new baby : Solutionneurs). I pray God may keep inspiring me, enlightening me, and using me to initiate and implement more development/impact projects; and more importantly, I hope He uses me to keep motivating my brothers and sisters around the world to do more, to meaningfully impact our societies. 
There was an error in this gadget