As Thanksgiving approaches, and the year begins to wind down, we reflect on the craziness that has been this past year. The coronavirus pandemic has shown us just how deep the cracks of our society are. Education is the universal tool to equip changemakers around the world in their quest for positive global progress. KEF Scholar, Ferdinand, is no stranger to education for development’s sake. Let's take a moment to honor the positive change that he has inspired in his community with the scholarship he received from KEF and the education he was able to pursue.
This October, Ferdinand graduated from the Green World Training Institute! Ferdinand has obtained degrees in Industrial Environmental Safety and Public Health, and he looks forward to implementing his new skills as a safety professional in Cameroon’s industrial sector. We are honored to have supported Ferdinand’s educational journey and the wonderful things he’s doing for his community!
This year has presented a unique set of challenges for Ferdinand to overcome. As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted plans across the globe, Ferdinand noticed a need for coronavirus awareness and prevention strategies in his own local community. After getting trained in outbreak prevention through an online course, Ferdinand was able to prepare his neighbors, family, and friends for the severity of COVID-19 while also instructing them on best practices for limiting the spread. KEF was able to send a small amount of financial aid to Ferdinand through our COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund, and Ferdinand used this grant from KEF to provide soaps, hand sanitizers, and food for his village. He also set up handwashing stations throughout the town to encourage personal and public safety. This season, though it has seemed to drag on for ages, has shown Ferdinand to be the embodiment of the KEF ideology, “Pay It Forward.”
While Ferdinand works to help his local and national communities, he also prepares to enter the workforce as a safety professional. Having recently graduated with Industrial Environmental Safety as his focus, Ferdinand will fill a need for industrial security at natural resource extraction sites. Cameroon is very rich in natural resources, particularly in the Southwest, but the plants that specialize in resource extraction are extremely dangerous for the average worker. Ferdinand’s job will be to identify areas of potential harm and create solutions for safer work environments to prevent future accidents. He also looks forward to the opportunity to teach others interested in the emerging field of industrial safety. For him, education was a significant factor in his being able to aid the development of Cameroon through accident prevention and COVID-19 preparedness, and he is excited by the possibility of unlocking more bright futures for other students passionate about safety.
It’s clear from everything that Ferdinand is involved in that he has a knack for helping others. From his commitment to spreading awareness about public health in his village, to his passion for building a safer work atmosphere as Cameroon continues to grow, Ferdinand invests himself in his community to better and uplift those around him. Through it all, he maintains a constant stream of love and gratefulness. We would do well to emulate his example.
“I just want to appreciate Kapadia for what they have done for me. I am very, very grateful.” -Ferdinand
Meanwhile, Cameroon itself has been living through its own national crisis as tensions between the Anglophone and Francophone sectors continue to rise. Cameroon has been divided between an Anglophone minority and a Francophone majority since the 1960s. Today, there is still a lack of Anglophone representation in the government, and economic growth in the Anglophone areas is lagging far behind the rest of the country. In response, Anglophone separatists have been pushing for independence, or at least recognition, since 2017, with violence continuing into the present.
In response to the conflict, Ferdinand emphasized the need for a “concrete dialogue between the Anglophones and the Francophones.” He explained that the Western Anglophone Cameroonians have been treated as second-class citizens, and the most beneficial way forward would be to acknowledge and consider their voices. Right now, the political situation in Cameroon is in dire need of international awareness. It’s heartbreaking for Ferdinand to watch this go on while the international community seems to turn a blind eye. People like Ferdinand are doing their best to ensure the safety of their communities while also using the platform of education to call attention to the issues at hand.
“There can be no meaningful development without peace,” he says.
Though all of this seems worlds away from us, it’s important to recognize that Cameroonian politics are affecting people closer to home than we might realize, with ICE planning mass deportations of Cameroonian asylum seekers this month. It is only through educating ourselves and our greater communities that we can hope to bring awareness to some of these issues and be the kind of allies that Ferdinand is seeking, and that this world requires.