Tell us about the community that you engage? eg. economic conditions, political structures, norms and values, demographic trends, history, and experience with engagement efforts.
Cameroon is a diverse country. It has more the 200 ethnicities and languages. Once a colony, the country was divided into French Cameroon and British Cameroon, making today’s official languages both French and English. The landscape varies from beaches, mountains and rain forests in the South, to savannahs and deserts in the North, causing a variety of illnesses (malaria is widespread except in the mountainous regions, where respiratory and pulmonary diseases and dysentery are common). Despite slow movement toward democratic reform, the political power in Cameroon remains firmly in the hands of President Paul Biya. On ground level, the local communities have a chief, who serves as a guide in religious and juridical matters. Because of its modest oil resources and favourable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems confronting other underdeveloped countries, such as stagnant per capita income, a relatively inequitable distribution of income, a top-heavy civil service, endemic corruption, and a generally unfavourable climate for business enterprise. 48 % of the population is living below poverty line. Closely linked to this is the life expectancy at birth, which for the total population is 54.39 years. Statistics show that 5,3 % of the population is living with HIV or AIDS, but we can assume that there are more, unknown cases. People's religion is made up of 40 % indigenous beliefs, 40% Christians and 20 % Muslims. The leaders of Ascovime are Cameroonians from different ethnical groups. They have the crucial knowledge about these facts and can therefore meet the needs and meet the people on their terms to avoid social disasters. It is for example important for Ascovime that the local chief and local authorities agree to a campaign in their community. It is also important that the distance to the nearest hospital or health centre is 20km or more. The idea is to not take away work form the local doctor, nurse, pharmacy or dentist, but to intervene where there is no one else.
Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
Dr. Georges Bwelle, a surgeon at the Central Hospital in Yaoundé, founded Ascovime. Dr. Bwelle has travelled around in his country and seen a lot of misery. He has seen poverty, illiteracy and sick people. But he has also met people who came from nothing, who lived in mud huts and went to schools which were torn down by wind and rain twice a year and today have a university degree and are doing important work. Some of these people are trying to give back to the community they came from and let others get a chance to make it in life. This inspired Dr. Bwelle to believe that life is a chance and everyone should get an equal opportunity to live it. He started traveling around Cameroon together with volunteers from all over the world. They have visited rural villages and tried to help the people there by provide free medical care and school equipment. The success of these campaigns led to the founding of the organization he decided to call Ascovime (In French: Association des Compétences pour une Vie Meilleure). Dr. Bwelle is a person who acts to see the changes he wants in his country. His skills and energy are impressive, something every volunteer who have been on a humanitarian campaign with him, will agree with. He is the kind of man you meet once in your lifetime and never forgets, because the goodness in his work will for always inspire you. Jérémy, a French medical student, met Dr. Bwelle in Cameroon, saw his work, and decided to create Ascovime Paris to facilitate the work done by Ascovime in Cameroon financially, with equipment and volunteers.