One of my favorite things about running The Smile Project blog is the opportunity to connect with other changemakers across the world. It was in the pursuit to learn more about the effort of others to improve the state of our planet that I connected with Fontoh Desmond Abinwi, Executive Director of CEPOW Cameroon and organizer of two incredible projects, “Eco Kids for Future in the Chomba Community” and “Beating Plastic Pollution.”
Without further ado, allow me to introduce Fontoh and his work!
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is.”
Fontoh: Happiness is remembering that the happiest people not are not those getting more, but those giving more.
Liz: Tell me about CEPOW Cameroon.
Fontoh: We are a non-governmental, non-political, and non-profit making organization. Our goal is to build on the theory of change, through healthier and sustainable solutions on uprising environmental issues. We focus on adaptation and mitigation strategies to climate change. We seek to contribute to a sustainable planet through climate change intervention, environmental conservation, capacity building, development intervention, women and development and collaborative research. CEPOW upholds that through participatory and inclusive development the sustainable development goals could be achieved.
Liz: You mentioned two major projects. Can you tell me first about the Eco-Warriors for the Future in the Chomba Community-Based Forest in Cameroon?
Fontoh: We’re located in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, specifically the Bamenda Comba Community.
The project is a community-focused initiative that aims to improve water quality and quantity and restore habitat for wild species through planting of 25,000 water friendly, economic and medicinal trees. Further it will educate 100 youths in the community on sustainable forest management, tree planting and monitoring. This project has a target timeframe of 4 years. Presently about 5,000 trees have been planted and 20 youths trained. Click here to learn more.
More so, it focuses on restoring degraded areas within the catchment and forest. Engaging the community to actively participate in the protection of the catchment area, for water access and forest, for biodiversity and wildlife, saving animal and restoring their natural habitat is priority. This forest is a habitat for the god’s of this community thus a historical area. This forest provides clean water for over 6,500 people living in the Chomba community, plants, and animals.
Liz: And how about the other project, “Beating Plastic Pollution?”
Fontoh: The Beat Plastic Bottle Campaign focuses on the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste to manufacture building materials (plastic lumber, roofing tiles, and pavements).
The objective is to withdraw over 1 million kilograms of plastic in 2 years from the environment and use them to manufacture plastic lumber, roofing tiles and pavements. We also aim to empower, and ensure the training of 100 youths on the recycling of post-consumer plastic waste through the use of plastics to manufacture building materials (plastic lumber, roofing tiles and pavements). We promote entrepreneurship through the recycling of plastics to plastic lumber, roofing tiles and pavements and creation of 100 direct and over 500 indirect jobs hereby alleviating poverty. Lastly, we work to sensitize, engage and strengthen media discussions alongside collaboration in promoting the recycling of plastics for the production of plastic lumber to ensure ecofriendly building materials.
Liz: What’s the driving force behind what you do?
Fontoh: Truth and service to humanity to ensure all for a safe planet.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Fontoh: Service is a call and duty. We are saved to serve. We need to give back to Mother Nature for endowing us with all these natural resources as it should be our duty to conserve and protect her, while ensuring a sustainable planet for future generation to came.
Liz: How can people best support your work?
Liz: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Fontoh: More visibility = more progress. We kindly plead on all servitors of our planet to “like” and “share” our link as it helps boost the organisation to exercise more change alongside promoting The Smile Project.
Liz: What’s your favorite quote?
Fontoh: “It all starts with you; together we shall make our planet great again.”
Liz: Do you have a final parting piece of advice?
Fontoh: We all should know nature can live without us, but we can’t live without nature. It’s time we come together and Save our Earth.