From my very first experience with Cameroonians, who welcomed me in the airport and during the first days of my stay, I have experienced a welcoming, warm, engaged and caring people. I have been presented for times of celebrating of joy and laughter. I have experienced dancing, singing, traditional food, worship, ambitious projects, traditional clothes and markets selling the natural wealth of the country. Yet, I have also witnessed some of the challenges the people of the country face. These challenges range from everyday issues like power cuts and empty water pipes, the challenge of having enough small change to pay to the taxi and the markets, not to mention to understand and make myself understood. To seeing how difficult it is for Cameroonian citizens to obtain a visa to go to Europe for just ten days. I see the trash and pollution everywhere I look, hearing about the lack of voice and impact given to the youth, and the importance of money for possibilities and influence. At almost every layer of the society.
Many things are different from the reality I know and from the everyday I have been living most of my life. The food tastes different, the transport and traffic is crazy, the temperatures are higher, the greetings and even the language of communication is unknown to me. I am different from the rest of the people because I cannot hide by the colour of my skin, my lack of communication skills, my ignorance of common knowledge and norms about how to behave and the great attention I get everywhere I go. Life here is in many aspects different from life in Denmark, but many similarities have occurred as well. People here have dreams and visions, just like any other person I know. Visions of a future where justice, peace, equality and joy is at the centre seem to be universal. A future not only for ourselves but for the next generations, for our country and the world.
What I have experienced in Cameroon is that the people I meet at the YMCA, are not people only hoping and praying for a brighter future, they are acting as well. With many dreams, ideas and projects the people I have met at YMCA Cameroon are working to change their country for the better. They are ambitious, engaged, thankful, proud, competent and they act to reach their goals. Moreover they have faith, believe and have confidence both in themselves and God that they can create a brighter future. With this engagement and with activities, they influence and encourage young people to engage in their local communities, to work for a future that is closer to the visions they have for the country.
So now, I am looking forward to seeing what the next four weeks will bring. No one can know at this time. And I do not mind. I will enjoy and live in the moment while I look forward to exploring, to learn, and to be surprised by what the future will hold. With the risk of being too optimistic, I think the future is bright.
Anna Gundersen, Intern at Cameroun-YMCA