Cameroon, South west region
|Cliff Walk at Pourville. Claude Monet. 1882. The Art
Institute of Chicago
In my country everyone wants to travel away. Parents, friends, and relatives all give the same advice: “Leave Cameroon once you graduate and get a high wage job abroad. Do not waste your talents here, there are no opportunities.” All young Cameroonians know this advice.
I lost both parents before I was nine years old. It was a heartbreaking and lonely experience. I know how it feels to attend parent-and-teacher meetings alone when other children are together with their parents. But even as a young child, I had a deep-seated desire for a better life. This helped me channel all my trauma and experience into everything I did, to strive to attain greatness. I never felt ashamed of being an orphan. I knew it was a new identity that had been bestowed upon me, and that this identity would push me to greater heights.
My relatives always told me that I could become rich someday if I studied hard and passed my exams. I believed their every word. Studying became my passion. I was the sports coordinator and class sanitations prefect for two years and won many school trophies in football. I was later admitted into one of the country’s best accredited universities to study LL.B Law. I was filled with much pride, but also fear and uncertainty, knowing that I was coming closer to my goals. I would constantly remind myself why I was doing all these things: I wanted to travel away and live a better life.
In the university, I learned to rethink my life choices. I was faced with a diversity of ideas that challenged my own. One of my law lecturers said something I could never forget: “The public funds the universities so we can use our education to help the country.” Many of our graduates forget this as soon as they get their diplomas. Instead of working to help the poor in our own country, they work in foreign lands to earn high salaries. When they return back to their home country, they are the first to complain that the country has limited opportunities. They forget to ask themselves this question: “What have I done for my country?”
This notion has transformed my way of thinking. I now realize that education has a more significant purpose. It is not only to enrich ourselves with material wealth or to show off, but to see more clearly and ask questions we have not thought about before, such as our role in society and how we can use the education we have attained to help the public.
Realizing this encouraged me to join African Nations Amateur Development Association (ANADA) and Cameroon Young Dynamic Youths (CYDY), a nongovernmental organization where I hope to use my skills in sports and law to help the community. I want to let people know they still have a source of hope, to encourage them to wake up every day and look forward to learning something new and revive what they have forgotten.
In my position as volunteer coordinator and social coach. I use the unifying power of football to build social and life skills in children and youths, and promote gender balance, hygiene, and sanitation. I want to prove that not everything done in life is about enriching oneself. To have an impact on others is the true essence of life.
Today, I no longer want to travel away. When I graduate, I want to improve my expertise with social coaching and teaching. I want to purpose my ideas to other organizations, and urge my fellow youths to understand that the true essence of life is not to attain wealth or fame, but to make the little things great. Like the saying goes, “A genuine smile is contagious.” Let us work hand-in-hand to put a smile on people’s faces so we can as well be satisfied. This is the true essence of living.
SONA CLINTON ENINGAN is a sophomore student at the University of Buea, Cameroon, studying law. Sona is also the sports coordinator at the Department of English Law at the University of Buea.