16 years ago, I sat in a classroom made up of 5 girls and 35 boys taking a course in Engineering. There was a day when I wanted to have a private talk with another girl because I had a burden to share. During the break, I looked round the class and I realized that 4 of the girls were absent. Discovering that I was alone, I became very shy, full of fear and intimidated by faces of the boys.

Feeling sad, I asked myself; “What can I do to have as many girls as boys sitting in this classroom? How do I go about to change this situation? A thought floated in my head: “I pictured a society where women have equal interest and access to STEM fields and the opportunities they provide”

I didn’t immediately know how to realize this vision but it was more powerful than me and it quickly led me to various on line communities such as Techwomen, ABI dot Local, World Pulse, Systers and Technovation, as well as accomplished mentors around the globe.

Since the initial thought triggered me into action I’ve connected with hundreds of people, organized about 30 events, participated in 5 trainings, taught myself to code, mentored 40 girls, registered a lot of success in attracting more than 200 girls into STEM field.

More recently, wanting to advance this dream I was accepted into the Advanced Digital Changemaking program. This incredible opportunity will help me amplify my mission and provide opportunities for connections and mentorship that will strengthen my dream that will never give me peace until my vision changes into a concrete reality: Building a society where women are secured via strong engagement in productive and sustainable activities in STEM fields.

I was very motivated when I applied to participate in the Advanced Digital Changemaking program organized by World Pulse.

Being selected for the program, this boosted my acumen in moving towards my dream. With a lot of enthusiasm I happily accepted the offer. Presently I am taking part in the online training, which requires me to be constantly connected to the internet. In order to access training material, do my assignments, run live calls in a virtual classroom with classmates and have Skype calls with my Vision Mentor. What an amazing experience!

It is a great privilege for me to participate in this training especially because I had been attached to a vision mentor who is available to communicate with me when necessary. In my early years when I was a student, it was difficult to have someone that you can look up in your professional career.

Realizing my vision requires challenging cultural and behavioral change. Girls have low self-confidence for this field, this has typically been seen as a male dominated field.

Realizing this vision also requires access to technology and equipment and good computer labs are not often available.

Realizing this vision requires trained and committed mentors who will be willing to serve as volunteers.

Realizing this vision requires a reliable source of internet connection and other accessories. Something that most people take for granted these days but in my region in Cameron we’ve been blocked from access since the 17th of January 2017.

What a surprise to wake up one morning to find out that the internet had been cut off in the part of the country where I live, Bamenda, the Regional Headquarter of the North West Region of Cameroon which is English speaking.

I could not believe my eyes that it would be impossible to communicate and express myself to the world. Was my vision going to die? Will my voice be lost? Will my classes stop? Many questions pondered my mind making me restless. 

I paused for a few days and reflected deeply on how I was going to carry on with my vision. I had to reposition myself, as well as my state of mind. Presently, I have to travel every week for 3 hours over a distance of about 7.5 Km to access strong and reliable internet connection. Making this trip on a very bad road to a nearby French speaking region that is enjoying internet services every day makes me tired by the time I get there.

However, I cannot forgo this training because of internet outage. I have made up my mind to complete this training. Though living in this nightmare has been very frustrating and painful to me I will keep forging ahead while keeping a positive attitude.

I will not give up the struggle to make my dream a reality in Cameroon. I have decided to stay focused and I trust the power of my thoughts. The power of my thoughts turned into vision will prevail in overcoming these various blocks in the road…one by one, perhaps slowly yet confidently, they will be conquered. That’s how powerful this vision is! The realized vision will be more meaningful because of them! 

How to Get Involved

You can support my work at CYEED by donating laptops. Computers, tablets, office equipment, projector and screen.

Your generous donations will go a long way to bring digital skills to women across Cameroon.

This post was submitted in response to Share Your Story On Any Topic.

16Encouragement

Dear Jlanghus,

Thanks to this forum I have developed more courage and zeal to achieve my dreams.

Sophie Ngassa

Executive Director

Center for Youth Education and Economic Development - CYEED

Sophie, 

You are a natural storyteller. How frustrating and discouraging to wake up and find yourself without your usual internet connection! I'm glad you're persevering and continuing with the training program despite this and the long commute. Your commitment is commendable, and I believe that you will realize your vision for the future--for yourself and women everywhere. Keep it up!

Dear Isquires,

Thanks for encouraging me. Up till now there is still no internet connection. However, I have developed a high spirit of bravery and resilience.I will make it to the end.

Sophie Ngassa

Executive Director

Center for Youth Education and Economic Development - CYEED

Hi Sophie,

It is so good to hear that you persisted and did not give up! That is the true way to reach your dreams and keep going! Good luck with the rest of your journey!

Take Care,

Dana 

Dear Danadabbous,

Yes, the road to success will never be smooth.We need to be focused and determined.Thanks for your support.

Sophie Ngassa

Executive Director

Center for Youth Education and Economic Development - CYEED

I am saddened to hear about the internet being cut off to your region. Was this an economic, political, or environmental problem? Will the service be restored at some point, or is this a permanent cut-off?  How are you going to handle this situation in the long run should it prove to be a permanent problem? Your journey is fascinating and I wish you all the best.

Nancy

Nancy

Dear Ncyat, 

Thanks for the questions.I am asking my self similar questions.

Actually we are facing socio- political issues in Cameroon.The English speaking Cameroonians have been marginalized for long and they dared complain about their living and working conditions which led to internet shutdown. Check here ;https://act.accessnow.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1921&ea.campaign...

Sophie Ngassa

Executive Director

Center for Youth Education and Economic Development - CYEED

Thanks for sending me the link. I should have done some digging and would have realized it is a political problem, which can be much more difficult to resolve. Post-colonial issues often involve dominant cultures imposing their language and government systems on others, with no regard for the consequences to the people who have to accommodate these impositions. Here in the United States, the Native American people are struggling to keep their native languages alive, as they are being forced to learn and speak English in the schools and up until recently, did not have courses in their languages, so the children ended up not knowing them. These indigenous peoples have suffered greatly from colonial mindsets by Americans. My research has been on the influence government narratives have on Native Americans's girls' decision to drop out of school, and it seems it is a powerfully negative influence indeed.

Nancy

Thanks Sophie for this inspiring post that has enabled me to uplift my power of positive thinking and visualization. I am indeed enriched and imparted with your words. Hope to collaborate with you someday.

Dear Vera,

I am happy that my story has inspired you.Feel free to contact me, there is  much we can do together.

Thanks for the nice words.

Sophie Ngassa

Executive Director

Center for Youth Education and Economic Development - CYEED

Dear Sophie,

Your post inspires me, not only for the amazing tech education work you are doing for women and girls in your community but also your persistence in battling the internet blockages and your commitment to your ADC training.  We are cheering you on!  I look forward to reading more from you during your training and beyond.

Warmly,

Julie

Dear JulieG,

Thanks for encouraging me.Happy to hear that you will read my stories. I value this training so much.

 

Sophie Ngassa

Executive Director

Center for Youth Education and Economic Development - CYEED