Returning to Cameroon: Building Bright Futures
It was my third trip to Bamenda, Cameroon, the first in four years, and I immediately noticed a disturbing difference. In a chaotic mix there were vendors packed 3-deep on every square inch of roadside, motorcycles carrying no less than 3 people, dust and dirt everywhere, and chock-a-block people milling about with no place to go.
The road we had just traveled on our 9-hour journey from Yaoundé was almost impassable with deep ruts, potholes the size of a small car, too much traffic, and no speed limit. A flat tire had sent us to a roadside mechanic. By the grace of God we had a spare.
This is where the majority of our Good Shepherd Academy students live when they are not in school — those in the Good Shepherd Home orphanage and those from intact families. A sea of steadily increasing overpopulation and poverty surrounded us, threatening to forever destroy the hopes and dreams of every inhabitant.
Fortunately, Good Shepherd Academy is not located in Bamenda, but in the mountainous rural area of Bafut, 35 minutes north. On my early November journey to attend the Academy Dedication with board member Christina Kales, the mission of Good Shepherd Academy had never been more sharply etched in my heart and mind.
The only way out is through education, and not just any education. What’s needed is a secondary/high school that doesn’t just teach to government tests, but one that produces graduates who can think critically and creatively using 21st century skills. A school that teaches traditional academic subjects, and also includes a sustainable agriculture program and technical classes in finance and accounting. A school that focuses not only on Christian education, but also on world religion and human rights. In short, a unique secondary/high school experience that can provide a way forward for all of Cameroon, whose educational system has historically failed her citizens.
Secondary/high school education is still not mandatory in the Republic of Cameroon, resulting in too few schools for thousands of eager students. The only hope comes in the form of religious schools and hospitals that shine like beacons of light throughout the NW region. The only hope comes from donors like you who care, respond, and get involved. Between a life of mind-numbing abject poverty and one of uplifting middle class employment stands you.
Together, we are Building a School! Together we are Building a Future!
Thanks be to God!
The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Geitz
Chair, Good Shepherd SLF