Born Identity Cameroon, a charity aiming to improve the lives of children and families in West Africa, is looking for help to fulfill its dreams of providing infrastructure to the country. Caitlyn Davey wanted to know more.
On meeting Brell Tchewa and Anothony Moise for the first time, their passion for the cause they represent is immediately clear. The organisers of the international charity, Born Identity Cameroon, they tell us with wide smiles and excited voices about the ongoing project that is improving the quality of life, and creating opportunities for hundreds of people, in Kumba, Cameroon.
Born Identity Cameroon is a United States and Cameroon registered charity. The vision launched in 2011, when Brell, who is originally from Cameroon, recognised a severe lack of amenities in parts of the country, and in particular the desperate need for an orphanage, medical facilities and a school in Kumba. Brell says, ‘When I was in Cameroon – I saw a need for these kind of facilities – the need for an orphanage and school for children, and a medical facility for locals. The nearest orphanage is two hours way – and children in Kumba are walking two miles each day just to get to school.’ From this need, Born Identity Cameroon was born.
Each of the ten team members currently working Born Identity Cameroon does so in their own time – they all have full-time jobs but still try to visit Kumba as often as possible.
What began as the vision of one man grew quickly when a Cameroon resident who heard about the vision donated a plot of land to Born Identity. Anthony explains, ‘A resident in Kumba actually heard about what we wanted to do and was right behind the project. So she gave us the land to work with.’
Born Identity Cameroon’s name comes from a desire to give each person in Cameroon their own sense of self. Brell says, ‘We want to give these people – these children – an identity. It’s not about being born into a situation, we want to enable these children to create their own identity and become something on their own terms. We want to teach them that they can work and accomplish things – it is possible for them to be whoever they want to become.’
The foundations of the project have been laid, physically and metaphorically – the property’s foundations have been laid – but the construction phase is now stalling. The next step, Anthony says, is to raise more funds to take things to the next level. ‘Now we are waiting – our biggest challenge is to find the finances to take the construction to the next phase – the foundations have been built, so we are working on sourcing the financial support.’
Financing the construction is not the only challenge, as the weather is also creating problems. Brell says, ‘It’s the rainy season in Cameroon now – so our biggest challenge, apart from funding, is getting the supplies into the grounds. Since September 2013, there have been ten months of continual rain which is making it difficult to get the products and supplies to our site.’
Once complete the compound will be open to the public, giving people access to medical facilities and also engaging the local community through employment within the compound. Born Identity Cameroon aims to not only provide for the community – but also continually provide gainful employment. Anthony says, ‘We approached the community with the concept in 2011 and they were keen for it. People have also expressed interest in employment opportunities – which we are also on board with. Right now we have ten team members working remotely (organisational team members) but we are also employing construction workers – and we hope to host teachers on a voluntary basis.’
Previously, the organisers of Born Identity Cameroon have hosted a bowling fundraising event at Zayed Sports City, and schools including Brighton College have helped to contribute funds to the organisation. Next, they hope to create sponsorship opportunities – Brell says, ‘The aim is, to get people working with us – sponsoring children in the orphanage, for a small monthly sum. This goes towards their living expenses, education and day-to-day costs.’
The next step; a fundraiser in Abu Dhabi in September. So stay tuned! If you want to help – you can sponsor a child or visit the website for a one-time donation. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. www.bicameroon.org