HOW ENGAGING IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TURNED MY LIFE AROUND.

March has been a somewhat special month in my life for the past three years. In March 2018, I braved the odds to visit secondary schools in Muyuka, my hometown, amidst the instability. This was one of the first initiatives I carried out as a teenager to help students in my community. I had just graduated from high school the previous year, and I had found it necessary to tell students about what was ahead and inform them of possible options. This simple step marked the start of an incredible journey.

Students in GBHS Muyuka during our orientation

Fast forward to a few months later, I fled Muyuka and continued my community engagement programs in Yaounde. That same year, I joined the KECTIL Leadership Fellowship and became part of the Open Dreams Community.

In April 2019, just one year after my initiative in Muyuka, I was awarded the MasterCard Foundation Scholarship Award at Ashesi University – a prestigious scholarship given to students who have demonstrated a track record of excellence, leadership and commitment to giving back. MasterCard Scholars are considered tomorrow’s leaders as they carefully select young people across Sub-Saharan Africa with the highest potential to impact their communities. Within four months of joining the Ashesi Community, I was awarded the Clinton Global Initiative University Fellowship, was also the only first-year student to be nominated for the Rising Star Award; an annual award given to a freshman or sophomore who has demonstrated initiative, drive, and leadership and is committed to making an impact at Ashesi University.

In 2020, I officially started another initiative dubbed Youths Inspiration, with a mission to inspire and empower the next generation of young people. Under this initiative, my outreach programs have impacted close to 1500 secondary school students, and I have organised four in-person and virtual conferences with an attendance of 300+ Cameroonians. These programs aimed to inspire the audience to become active members in their community through civic engagements as the speakers shared their stories with our audience.

In the same year, I won the Global Changemakers Essay competition out of over 350 entries from more than 35 countries. My success at this competition placed me on a path to global relevance. My engagements were featured on some of the most prominent national and international shows and blogs like The Global Changemakers Blog, Ideaslane Blog, AfroReal Initiative, The View Show, and CRTV.

Few months into 2021, I have taken a more proactive role in my University as the President of the International Students Association and joined the Student Council’s Executive Cabinet to ensure that their decisions are sufficiently inclusive. Also, owing to my track record of community engagement, I have joined the Next Generation Leaders Program to discuss diverse and ethical approaches to civic engagement and activism.

Looking back at every decision I had to make, and every action I took, I cannot describe how difficult this path has been – but it has been equally rewarding. Remember, all this started with a baby step. Start from somewhere and stay consistent, you will not regret any moment of your journey when your hard work starts paying off.

 “Even if you just change one life, you’ve changed the world forever.” 

Mike Satterfield

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