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