Emmanuel's grant project taught 40 participants agricultural and entrepreneurial skills.
By Elisabeth Vigna Dibega (YES 2019-2020, Cameroon, placed by World Link in Belleville, IL)
Amy Poehler once said: "Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life." For me, that group of people is the YES alumni.
During my exchange year in the U.S., I understood that everything we do for someone has an impact in his/her life. My inspiration to do service projects comes from the work I saw YES alumni and YES Abroad alumni do back in their communities during my exchange year. I also wanted to be part of that work, to impact and to empower others.
Although for some, the work alumni do seems small, I know deep inside that each project that is implemented impacts at least one person. What we say during cultural presentations inspires people to travel and visit our home countries, and through community service, we put smiles on peoples’ faces. That expression of gratitude is priceless.
Since my return to Cameroon, I became a trainer at the pre-departure orientation of the YES 2021-2022 and the YES 2022-2023 cohorts. I also participated in the Project Management in Practice workshop in 2021, which allowed me to be an alumni leader for the Project Management in Practice workshop in 2022. I have worked on six different projects with the other alumni, but the Girls Coding Camp was the first project that I led.
The Girls Coding Camp was a three-day introductory training on web design for 15 girls from local high schools. The camp took place in December at ICT University in Yaounde, and the agenda included diverse presentations on ICT fields, careers, and opportunities. The main focus of the camp, however, was facilitating hands-on labs with the participants, who had the opportunity to learn how to code in HTML and CSS.
Through this project, our aim was to promote women's empowerment, increase women's representation in ICT fields, and break stereotypes over gender capacity in engineering fields. We partnered with Girl Up, which provided financial support; ICT University, which provided a venue in Yaounde; Genzis, which provided a trainer; and D’Yvix IT Solutions, which also provided a trainer. At the end of the training, four outstanding participants received two-month internships at Genzis and D’Yvix IT Solutions, where they will receive more in-depth training.
I believe the project was a success through the efforts of my YES alumni team members, who were very supportive and proved valuable teamwork. YES alumni helped in the project planning phase, and two were present during the training to ensure the project ran smoothly, and one of our partners, Genzis, is a tech company owned by a YES alumnus. I also received calls from other YES alumni during the project’s implementation, which resulted in close collaboration even as some of the partners and project members contributed remotely. We had a very engaged and excited audience, with great reviews both from the participants and the trainers.
My engagement as a member of the Cameroon YES Alumni Association projects follow-up committee, as well as a leader of the Alumni Association board of the center region of Cameroon, are part of my continuous work toward the betterment of our communities. I am thankful for my time as a YES student, and more and more I understand the incredible impact it had on my life and my future. Thank you to the YES program for making me the change maker I wanted to be, to iEARN-USA, World Link, and to the dynamic alumni who believed in my project and helped me to ensure it was a success.