Whatever our dreams, ideas or projects, we plant a seed, nurture it and then reap the fruits of our labor. —Oprah Winfrey
It’s been an amazing ride through these past 10 years in Cameroon and we are elated about our monumental service excursion taking place right now in June of 2018. This trip represents dedicated years of hard work and progress—we’re more robust than ever, yet still in the infancy stages compared to where we want to be. We’ve never been prouder to showcase these projects to a large group of donors who have so generously supported our projects for over a decade.
Taking a look back at where we came from in 2007 and what the first Service Excursion involved, it’s still obvious that our original intention was clear; to establish a center of rural empowerment in the town of Kumbo. Back then, our main center was shared with a few tenants and most of the building was in a state of dramatic disrepair. Our first 90 days was spent employing masons, carpenters, roofers, painters, plumbers, electricians, and general laborers in order to make the main building a suitable place for administration, teaching, and learning. By supporting more than 45 of these independent contractors, our reputation for rural empowerment was born and The Himalayan Institute Cameroon (HIC) was in business. In no time, women’s empowerment programs, organic farming, the Kumbo Public Library projects, The School of Carpentry and Construction, and Health Clinic projects were well underway. The main building was run by a group of 11 volunteers from the US and India, and impact around the community was starting to take place. On October 17th of that year we celebrated our official grand opening—Cameroon style—joined by the entire town with singing, dancing, and food. It was a joyful celebration!
Moving into 2008 we were ready to bring our very first group service excursion to Kumbo. HIC was becoming more established in this beautiful community and we were eager to show everyone our developing projects and the impact they were having. After several bus trips and over a day’s worth of traveling, a group of internationally diverse guests were greeted on our main campus by a group of local Institute HIC employees who ecstatically played traditional African music and danced for their arrival. With the “Helping Africa Move Forward” campaign, everyone was feeling inspired about the potential of the area, and the immediate impact they were witnessing within the communities. Progress was happening, our projects were evolving, and service excursion guests volunteered in all of them, working side by side with local employees.
Now, in 2018, this Cameroon service excursion represents all of the hard work and nurturance that brought us to where we are today. Reflecting back on the first service excursion showcases the growth and development that has occurred over the past decade. Here are a some of HIC’s accomplishments:
- The Women’s Empowerment Program has expanded to include small business/financial training and family health/hygiene training.
- The Total Health Center received 2,000 visits and gave 1,200 consultations in 2017 alone.
- Last year, the Mobile Health Unit visited 18 communities with an attendance of more than 4,000 people and gave 3,025 consultations.
- The Total Health Center has given more than 12 health consultant trainings. These trained consultants now serve an area of more than 280,000 people.
- 5 Branch Libraries have been established that hold more than 60,000 books. A 6th Library will have its grand opening this year, and 4 more libraries are in the planning stages for the future
- More than 20,000 books have been circulated around the communities broadening our efforts for our Literacy Program.
- The School of Carpentry and Construction remains one of the finest in the region, where local technical college graduates come to take internships and receive certifications.
These projects remain a community effort, where money, resources, and hard work are used as a catalyst for change. To this day, the HIC is almost entirely managed by locals, which falls in line with the Himalayan Institute’s main goal: rural empowerment; uplifting communities by giving them the resources and education to empower themselves. HIC is no longer seen as a foreign not-for-profit. We have become an integral part of the community who has now assumed ownership of it. We started this project with just 11 volunteers, and now Kumbo has taken the reigns.
Looking forward, we are as excited about future developments and expansions throughout all of our programs as we have ever been. We know we will continue to create an even broader impact with the continued partnership from our supporters. As we look back upon the past 10 years of growth, we genuinely look forward to what the next 10 years will bring to those we serve.
We sincerely offer heartfelt gratitude and a hearty thank you to everyone who partnered with us through our humanitarian progress. Without your love and support, the human impact these projects have created could not have been possible. Together we are making a difference in the lives of others.