Himalayan Institute Cameroon (HIC) opened its doors on Saturday for a public open house. The day included guided tours, live music, lectures, and mini yoga classes.
Tour groups were given updates on the progress of HIC’s four programs: Sacred Link Jewelry, Total Health, Carpentry & Construction, and Energy Farming.
Outside the Humanitarian trAID Bazaar, visitors stopped to hear music by guitarist Roman Luks. The bazaar is part of a worldwide program dedicated to linking isolated artists and craftsmen with buyers. It showcases traditional handicrafts and is also the home of Sacred Link Jewelry.
Sacred Link Jewelry was the first of HIC’s empowerment programs. Last summer, the Himalayan Institute provided training in jewelry making and the business experience needed for seven local women to become self-employed, producing necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. Sacred Link Jewelry means recognizing the beauty in local and natural materials, restoring self-esteem, and creating jobs for rural villagers who often see no value within their own culture.
Between tours, Divine Ntani of public relations organized a quick game of Frisbee on the lawn.
At the School of Carpentry & Construction, HIC carpenter Marten Nyar and mason Divine Nfor demonstrated how wood can be dried in a sixth of the time by proper stacking and use of stickers to improve airflow. One of the first problems that the HIC team encountered upon arrival in Kumbo was the inability of the local people to take advantage of their natural resources. Raw, wet eucalyptus is shipped daily from Kumbo to out-of-town industrial centers. Awaiting a shipment of power tools from China, the School of Carpentry & Construction will begin training local carpenters to process and transform their natural resources into high-quality finished products.
The Zion Daughters, a musical group of three girls from Kumbo Government Bilingual High School, took the mike to perform an impromptu song about the Himalayan Institute.
At the Total Health Center, consultant Felix talked about the herbal medicines available at the dispensary. The Total Health Program fills an otherwise empty niche for health care in the developing world. While the people of Kumbo can buy subsidized drugs at Banso Baptist Hospital, they’re rarely given professional advice on lifestyle and preventative treatment. Total Health Centers augment the existing health infrastructure by providing alternative herbal and homeopathic medicines in addition to lifestyle counseling. Since May, HIC has trained 14 Total Health consultants to work at the center on campus. Soon, additional Total Health satellite centers will open across the region.
Total Health consultant Joan taught the group some basic yoga exercises.
After hearing about herbs like ashwagandha and artemisia in the Total Health Center, visitors were shown HIC’s Energy Farming demonstration plots, where both herbs are being grown. The School of Energy Farming encourages crop diversification with oilseed and medicinal alternatives as a means to free rural farmers from the volatile price shifts of the current cash crop, coffee.
Tours finished in the bazaar with refreshments.
As a community center, Himalayan Institute Cameroon strives to include the Kumbo public whenever possible. Jeff Abella, managing director of HIC, said, “An event like this allows us to tell the community who we are and what we’re doing. There are so many people going around town asking ‘Who are the Himalayans?’ and an event like th open house brings in the community to see exactly who we really are.”