In 2013, this conference centre was opened in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Every year, some 400 to 500 Christians from Cameroon and neighbouring countries come together here to build up their faith during a multi-day conference. In addition to the conferences, the conference hall is used weekly for meetings and child and youth work of the Christian church in Yaoundé. The WEW Foundation provided financial support for the construction of the conference venue.
A place to meet
Brunstad Christian Church has been active in missionary work in Cameroon since the 1970s. Over time, three churches have emerged in Cameroon: Yaoundé, Bafoussam and Douala. The annual Christian conferences where Christian gatherings are held are highlights for the churches in Cameroon and neighbouring countries.
With a growing number of children and adolescents and a need to organise activities that are appropriate and faith-inspiring for this target group, it became increasingly difficult for the Christians in Cameroon to rent a suitable location for their conferences. Moreover, the church in Yaoundé did not have a place of its own for its weekly meetings.
In 2011, a concrete plan was put forward that met both needs: a conference hall with facilities for around 450 people to spend several days together. The conference hall would also be suitable for the weekly meetings of the approximately 220 members of the Yaoundé church.
A building project as a humanitarian training programme
In veel Afrikaanse landen, waaronder Kameroen, is de werkloosheid onder jongeren hoog. Om deze jongeren een kans te bieden koos BCC om het bouwproject te benutten als humanitair trainingsprogramma. BCC in Zuid-Afrika, die ervaring had met de bouw van een conferentiecentrum, zou het project begeleiden en de training verzorgen.
Zeven jongeren uit Kameroen volgden eerst een training van zes maanden in Zuid-Afrika. Naast praktische vaardigheden onder andere in bouw, elektrotechnisch werk, timmerwerk, loodgieterij en projectbeheer werden deze jongeren opgeleid als teamleiders. Ondersteund door drie trainers uit Zuid-Afrika, die het project zouden leiden, reisden zij na zes maanden terug naar Kameroen met als doel een groter team op te leiden voor de uitvoering van het project.
Training with an eye to the future
During the execution phase, many more unemployed young people from Cameroon were invited to participate in the project. Over time, more than 50 young adults joined the team. All of them were trained for a task that enabled them to contribute to the project and that would increase their chances on the labour market after the project.
Towards the end of the project, a team was trained to manage the conference centre. With the opening of the conference centre in December 2012, this team was fully functional and organised the first conference at this location for the churches in Cameroon.
Almost all the young people involved in the project were able to use their experience in the project to find work and support themselves elsewhere. For example, the team leader of the construction team started a company that is going well and that provides employment for several others.
“By participating in the construction project, I discovered in myself new talents in design, management, entrepreneurship and financial management. I started my own construction company. It is going very well. I was able to start a family and I have everything I need.”
– Emmanuel Dime, Yaoundé
“This project has brought me so much! I gained experience as an electrician and gained knowledge of construction and management. Now I am married and have two children. Together with a friend, I run a construction company that we started immediately after the project.”
– Bernard Ndeme, Yaoundé
“Before I took part in this project, I was worried about my future. Now I’ve learned so many practical things, installation work, tiling and project management. I am married to a woman who also took part in the project and we look back on a very rich time in our lives.”
– Romeo Kalachi, Douala
“I look back at the project with a great deal of gratitude. It was a new start for me, both in terms of work and personally. I used to be very worried about my education, because it is very expensive to go to a good school. The project came at exactly the right time in my life. I received intensive training in office and administrative tasks, event management and planning. Above all, I have learned to be a good employee who thinks about the other person and not only about myself. Today, I work as a management consultant. Here I use everything I learned during the training project. In my spare time I organize activities for children and young people. I have got a happy and good life.”
– Anne Marie Dime, Yaoundé