As COVID-19 swept across the world, communities far and wide have had to deal with the repercussions of a global pandemic. In Cameroon, Birndze Bete Dzekewong, Founder and CEO of African Youth for Sustainable Agriculture (AYOSA), stepped up to support communities in need. This is his story.
Liz: Let’s start in traditional Smile Project fashion. Give me a “Happiness is.”
Birndze: Happiness is inner peace. Happiness is giving. It’s going through the day knowing that you are responsible for the smile on your neighbor’s face.
Liz: Tell me about African Youth for Sustainable Agriculture.
Birndze: Our organization focuses on promoting youth entrepreneurship and employment through agriculture. With a team of dynamic young people across Africa, we focus on making agriculture attractive to young people through innovation. We believe that youth are the most unexploited assets in Africa and are the key to developing Africa’s economy.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, we have adopted sustainable projects to combat the pandemic among minority communities and high-risk populations. Through projects such as COVID-19, Breaking the Chain of Infection, we have reached out to over five minority communities and over 2,000 high-risk individuals sensitizing on the coronavirus pandemic prevention method as well as distributing over 1,500 face masks, hundreds of hand-washing points, and sanitizer.
To save vulnerable families from hunger and starvation during the quarantine, we’ve set up a vegetable nursery to distribute 5,000 nursed vegetable seedlings (tomatoes, celery, green pepper, cabbage, lettuce, and leeks) to the vulnerable population affected by the pandemic.
This will go a long way to ensure a continuous supply of fresh, healthy, and homegrown vegetables in vulnerable communities. We are also training beneficiaries in urban areas with a focus on container gardening.
In addition, we also have upcoming projects such as; African Youth Food Security and Climate Change Ambassador project, Green School Project, and Farmpreneurs. All projects aim at ensuring food security, advocating for climate change, and promoting youth innovative agriculture.
Liz: What is the driving force behind what you do?
Birndze: It’s all about making a difference, knowing that you were born for a purpose and pushing that dream. People go through a lot in their lives and knowing that you are responsible for the smile on someone’s face gives you the zeal to get up and work even harder.
Liz: What does service mean to you?
Birndze: Helping, providing, and devoting yourself in serving the needs of others despite the odds and at all times.
Liz: How can people get involved or follow your work?
Liz: Do you have any advice to leave us with?
Birndze: Don’t wait for the wind to stop. Have the courage to move on. There will be times when moving forward hurts, moving backward hurts, and standing still is deathly. Put on your armor, and go through the storm. There is natural and true beauty on the other side of the storm.