Stories from Our Community

Tor Geir Holmen: Building schools and fighting malaria in Cameroon

Tor Geir Holmen (Master in International Affairs) has just returned from Cameroon, where he worked as a volunteer for a German-Cameroonian NGO. 

"The Hope Foundation is a small NGO working at grass-roots level in Bertoua, East Cameroon. Our most important project is to deliver a school and a community centre. East Cameroon is the least developed part of the country, and education levels are quite low. We aspire to build a school of German standards, both in terms of teaching and infrastructure levels. A major problem in Cameroon is bad sanitation, which causes many girls to drop out of school when they reach puberty. This is why our school will have a solar powered water point, and a good sanitation system. The school is already half- finished, and we hope to open the pre-school in September 2017. But there is still much work to do.

I spent a lot of time digging foundations under the scorching sun. We had to get up at 6 in the morning so we could get work done by midday and then take a break while the sun was at its strongest. It felt great using my body for physical labour for once, after so much time spent reading tedious texts in the library! I think all students can relate to that.

Tor-Geir-texte.pngThe Hope Foundation also has a programme to fight malaria, which kills thousands in the region each year. Sub-Sarahan Africa is home to 92% of all malaria deaths, and children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. Simple preventative measures like mosquito nets can save thousands of lives. The problem is that most people have little awareness of how malaria works. The Hope Foundation’s malaria programme has three pillars: education, prevention and treatment. We travel throughout Cameroon educating people about malaria and distributing mosquito nets to pregnant women and women with children under the age of 5.

Each year since 2011, The Hope Foundation has arranged a marathon against malaria (a “malarathon”) in Berlin. The goal is both to raise revenue for mosquito nets but also to raise awareness about the world’s number 1 killer disease. This has proven to be a great success in Berlin, and it’s something I now wish to do in both Geneva and Oslo, my home town. Additionally, I want to arrange a party for students in Geneva, where the profits would go to the foundation’s education project.

If 100 runners for the malarathon each pay 10 CHF, that raises enough money for 100 mosquito nets, which could save many lives. Moreover, runners can have a “go-fund me” campaign where they can raise additional funds, if they wish. My plans are still taking shape, and I am more than open to suggestions. If someone knows about a specific route suited for a marathon, please let me know, and if someone who speaks good French could help me deal with the municipality that would also be greatly appreciated."