Jean, Paul and Emmanuel were classmates at the elementary school in Mogong village, in the far north of Cameroon. There, for eight months a year, temperatures exceed forty degrees. People live on simple subsistence farming, and are increasingly at risk from long periods of drought.
But they have succeeded. They continued their studies all the way through university: Jean became an agronomist, Paul graduated in Communication, and Emmanuel, ordained a priest, currently studies Sacred Scriptures in Rome, so as to teach in the seminary of his diocese.
They have succeeded, but they have not forgotten the difficulties and sacrifices involved in studying in a place lacking the most basic infrastructure and services. A place where school is a space covered by a thatched roof, without desks, chairs, or a floor. Where time is marked by hours spent with hundreds of other students, attended by one or two teachers, and hours spent in the fields or at home, assisting the family in their work.
And because they have not forgotten, these three friends wanted to start an association – Action Monde Por Tous – that has been working for years to ensure a more dignified life for many people: to improve agriculture and thus discourage the emigration of young people, to support local traders, to provide education and technical training.
“We have started with a contribution of 5,000 euros, but our people know that it is not a question of donations: it’s about self-development. Everyone participates however he can and is involved, in the first person, to improve his own life and that of our village’s community. ”
There is a lot of natural wealth in the country, but “the greatest wealth we have is our people,” says Fr. Emmanuel. “They are determined, willful, ready to make an effort and live in solidarity.”
Institutions are poorly present in people’s lives, especially in more remote and rural areas. For example, among young people there is a desire to be educated, but while the primary school is compulsory by law, there is no public investment in school infrastructure. Teachers charge little and are not adequately trained; there is no supervision and so many parents, unable to cover the necessary and unmotivated expenses, do not usually encourage their children to continue their studies, let alone if it’s their daughters. That is why Emmanuel, Jean and Paul are particularly committed to providing an adequate education to the young people of Mogong. “Only through study will boys and girls have the opportunity for a better future.”
Today there are about 200 children attending Mogong Primary School, the same one frequented by the three founding friends of Action Monde Por Tous. The situation has improved since they were students. The school now has classrooms and desks, but until a few months ago the books were missing. In fact, no child in Mogong had ever seen a book before last month, when enough funding allowed them to make the library available to all, thanks to the Harambee project.
The delivery of books was accompanied by a great party, with music, songs, with all the families participating and an official speech from the village chief: “Dear friends of Harambee, I thank you for your gesture in favor of the Mogong school. The joy that comes from the heart of the parents of the students of our school is immense. Today, with this book donation, teachers will be able to work seriously to offer the quality education that we expect from our children.”
These words of thanks come from Emmanuel, Jean and Paul, who came to our office during a visit to Rome. Their words give meaning, as if it were needed, to the effort and contribution that each of us can offer.