Nationality

Cameroon

Education

Masters in Public Administration, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

Diplôme Supérieur en Administration Civile, Ecole Nationale d’Administration et de Magistrature, Yaoundé, Cameroon

Maitrise in Modern English Literary Studies, University of Yaounde, Yaounde, Cameroon

Bachelor of Arts in English, Native University of Yaounde, Yaounde, Cameroon

Languages

English, French, Bali

Working for the United Nations is a commitment to fellow man, not a commitment to a paycheck. I grew up poor in a small town in the northwest region of Cameroon called Bali. My father, an elementary school teacher, raised us on a salary of about US$50 a month. He passed away when I was just five years old, and my family of seven struggled to get proper clothing, food and shelter. To make ends meet, we often got up in the early morning when it was still dark to prepare food to sell at bus stations. My mother, with just a fifth grade education, did everything in her power to support us. Her resilience inspires my own.

From a young age, I was told education could lift me out of poverty. The Cameroonian government offered scholarship money for low-income populations. I was lucky enough to secure funding and attend the University of Yaoundé for my undergraduate and graduate work. I went on to complete a Masters programme at Harvard University in Public Administration. My work at Harvard surrounded a question of my nascence: Why do poor people remain poor?

I overcame poverty personally, but what about others? What systems perpetuate this reality? What will it take to lift my people and my country up economically? I am dedicated to eradicating deprivation.

As I was preparing to graduate from Harvard, corporations professionally courted me. I applied to the United Nations at this time, but I did not receive a response. Sifting through job offers, I realized I could make the biggest impact in my own country, so I went back home. I took a position as an Economic Affairs Advisor to the Cameroonian Government, where I offered policy guidance and direction surrounding economic issues. In addition, I supervised poverty alleviation programmes and projects. In December 2004, I was invited to volunteer with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH.) I immediately took the job. There was no question in my mind.

MINUSTAH was established on 1 June 2004 to create a more stable environment, assist the newly established transitional government, and address human rights violations. On the ground in Haiti, I implemented what I studied at Harvard University. I elaborated a model called “Affirmative Local Governance,” a system for peace building that emphasizes empowerment and participatory governance. Our United Nations team spent time in 22 villages and towns encouraging dialogue between key community and government groups.

My team put the “Affirmative Local Governance” model into action in Haiti’s South East and Grand’Anse Departments. We facilitated a series of meetings between the mayors and staff, leaders of community groups, and women’s advocacy groups during two-day conferences. On the first day, we split into groups to discuss security, healthcare, education, environmental protection, communal housing and childcare. On day two, each group presented findings and turned priorities into projects. These projects were later placed with various development agencies for funding.

Within this framework, in Haiti we were able to build and develop at several levels: a community water project in Coterelle, a 10 hectare agro-forestry project in Coq Chant, an important bridge linking the population to a health centre in Mahot and finance a community bakery project in Jacmel.

As a Civil Affairs Officer, I spend most days in the field. Between January 2005 and May 2006, my team held over 400 collaborative conferences, including interviews and focus groups with various grassroots leaders in Haiti. We discussed elections, the political process, security and rule of law, decentralization, socio-economic development, human rights and international politics.

Alleviating and striving to eliminate poverty is my life story. It is the way I grew up; I lived it. Thousands of people are still living this story in various iterations. I am driven by the innate goodness and resilience of humanity in the face of violence and social deprivation. I share the conviction that international solidarity can truly make a difference in the lives of millions suffering worldwide.

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