Cameroonians are blessed with a sense of giving. They leverage this to address some of the gruesome challenges in remote parts of the country, albeit at a slow pace. However, the constant burning desire of some Cameroonians to give back to their community and promote the well-being of the community is predominant.
A predominant act of giving by Cameroonians, commonly described as “sadaka’, can be described as an act of giving by someone to show love and appreciation to her/his community. “Sadaka”’ can sometimes be associated to the Muslim religion. However, it is widely practiced by persons who feel blessed and seek to bless others. Hence, it can be described to be an overt manifestation of the intrinsic belief that “I am blessed, so let me bless others”.
For over 2000 indigenes in a small community in the Noun division, West of Cameroon, the lives of about 250 have been impacted by a ‘daughter-in-law’ – Charity (name withheld). Charity acknowledged and appreciated the love towards her family and reciprocated in a unique way. She saw them as a blessing and, in turn, blessed them. As a result, the nightmare of rarely accessing a medical doctor and quality health services in a year is gradually becoming a thing of the past, thanks to Charity’s golden heart.
Kindness begets kindness.
Like most Cameroonians in the diaspora, or ‘bush fallers’ as it is called in local parlance, Charity was planning her 2020 Christmas holiday visit to her husband’s village with excitement. It was a highly anticipated period for her, especially given that the global tensions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic were easing out.
Charity cherishes the convivial moments she spends with her husband’s family annually. Through diverse ways of giving, family members express their love towards Charity and her family.
“I realised everyone just loves to see my family and comes with small gifts of food or drink to share. What do I have to give back that will leave a lasting impact on the community?” Charity pondered on how she’d reciprocate such kindness.
Like every diasporan, Charity thought of coming with several gifts for her family members and loved ones. She considered feeding the community.
However, according to Charity, this wouldn’t create any lasting impact.
“When I go home, [kill and share] a cow and buy drinks for people to drink, they enjoy it. The next day, there is nothing left to remember”, she says.
This can be likened to ‘sadaka’; a typical local giving practice predominantly exercised during festive periods and or, by well-meaning individuals to a group of persons.
Sadaka refers to acts of charity towards others. It can be done because of one’s generosity, to show love, compassion or because of one’s faith.
Innovate for impact!
Hence, Charity was inspired to engage in an action that touches lives beyond her immediate family and loved ones. She nurtured the idea of offering free basic health care support to the entire community.
“If we offer free consultation by bringing free quality health services to the community… that is priceless. They don’t have to travel for several kilometers just to get consulted”, she thought to herself. Although this is just a few days in a year, it has been welcomed as a priceless moment for the community members.
Charity organized a free two-day medical consultation and provided basic medical supplies worth about $400 – $550. Her brother-in-law, a medical doctor in Europe voluntarily consulted patients and they bought some basic medical equipment (blood pressure monitors, thermometers, and glucose testing kits) which are then left at the dispensary for continued use. They make use of the basic community dispensary and are assisted by the lone nurse in the dispensary.
This gesture has been replicated in December of 2021 and 2022. Charity’s simple act of reciprocating kindness has morphed into an annual health campaign for the community.
The good news has attracted others from neighboring communities. Charity plans to accommodate the neighboring villages, increase the consultation days from two to five and invite hematologists, cardiologists, opticians, dentists, and gynecologists; specialist domains identified through some of the diagnosis.
Despite the quest for more, the efforts by Charity have helped community dwellers to know their blood groups. This helped to reduce deaths associated to sickle cell anemia. She made available drugs for malaria and fever; a luxury they rarely get and those who could afford spent huge sums to send drivers to purchase them from nearby towns. Most importantly, it is the only time of the year they get to interact with a medical doctor.
A motion for more solidarity
Charity is poised to sustain this initiative and do more. In leveraging community giving, she believes that “[t]ogether we grow stronger and alone we take longer and sometimes not getting there”.