By Joyce Tagne (YES 2019-2020, Cameroon, placed with AFS-USA in Cleveland, OH)
My name is Joyce Tagne and I'm 16 years old. Since I was young, I have always been passionate about helping others in need, even if most of the time I was the one in need. I
believed in the saying "when there's for one, there's for everyone". The YES program
helped me view the world as a place where there exists two kinds of people: those who
help others and those who need to be helped. The most important thing I realized is that
even if you need someone else's help, there's always something priceless you can share
with others, and that is love. During my exchange year, I felt so much love and this touched my
heart so deeply that I felt it was a duty for me to share all this love with my community back in
The first thing I noticed when I returned home was how people with disabilities are often neglected and don't have a lot of opportunities to further their education or career. I was inspired to implement the "Shade of Hope" project for Make a Difference Day to connect with the disabled community in Cameroon. This project was a two-day workshop that invited 30 people with disabilities to participate in hands-on activities, including manufacturing soap, face masks and reusable menstrual pads. The workshop also included sessions on self-esteem, leadership and financial independence.
What inspired us to carry out this project is the need for disabled people in our community to become more independent. Particularly in my area, schools for disabled people are very rare and sometimes expensive and it is difficult for people with disabilities to get jobs. My hope is that the participants of this workshop will use the skills they learned to improve their confidence, self-esteem and independence.
The biggest thing I learned from this workshop is that we are all the same and deserve to be treated equally! Your disability does not define you and you can do anything if you wish to. I want to say a big thank you to the YES program and the Cameroon YES Alumni Association for giving me the opportunity to carry out this project and a big thanks to my family and friends who did not hesitate to encourage me throughout this project. Thanks to all who contributed in making this project possible!