• UAC Buea coaches finish three years working with Coaches Across Continents

    July 1st 2014. Hello from Buea! We are now in our third week of Coaches Across Continents training here in Cameroon, working in Buea with United Action for Children. We had many new coaches and teachers from around the Buea area join us this week. Buea sits at the base of Mt. Cameroon which made for a breathtaking view from the field every day.

    The coaches pinpointed gender equality, nutrition, and HIV as the social issues in their communities that they wanted to address this week with CAC’s curriculum, so we tried to place added emphasis in these areas. On our second day of CAC training, we played a nutrition game with the coaches that taught about what a balanced diet consists of and why it is important to eat healthy foods. For every scored goal, that person was allowes to pick out either a carbohydrate, fat, or protein (represented by cones, water bottles, and balls), to build a healthy meal. Once the team that had two healthy meals consisting of one carb, one fat, and one protien each, they win! This game sparked up a great conversation about healthy foods in the communities in Buea, its availability, and the issues that keep people from making healthy eating choices.

    We stayed at the UAC volunteer house this week, with other volunteers from Germany and the USA. It was nice for all of our Cameroon Coaches Across Continents staff to be together in the same house. We were able to easily meet, discuss how the day went and plan lessons for the next day between training, meals, and the evening world cup games. Watching the World Cup games at a nearby bar was definitely a highlight of the week. Unfortunately, Cameroon lost this week, but that didnt seem to effect the spirits of the coaches this week. They kept us on our toes and kept us laughing all week.

    On our last night in Buea the UAC staff invited us out to an end of school year social gathering for their teachers and staff. The food and drinks were delicious, the music was loud and the dancing was a lot of fun! It was great to spend some time outside of training with some of the coaches we had been working with all week. Sophie, Josh and I had fun laughing at each other as we tried to dance to the different music. I think the locals were entertained by our dancing, too. In the end, we could not keep up with energy level of the UAC staff members. Some of them were up dancing until midnight!

    Its crazy to think that next week is my last week with Coaches Across Continents. We will make our way to Kumba for our final week in Cameroon working with CFDP (Cameroon Football Development Program).

    "We promise to always protect and never abuse children while in our care"

    “We promise to always protect and never abuse children while in our care”


    Coaches Across Continents' participant Martha runs away from Community Impact Coach Kama.

    Coaches Across Continents’ participant Martha runs away from Community Impact Coach Kama.

  • The World Cup starts in Mamfe

    June 29th 2014. Hello from Mamfe! We arrived here Sunday afternoon after a long, adventurous trip from Ngaoundere. We took the overnight train on Friday from Ngaoundere and arrived in Yaounde on Saturday morning. Then, we took a bus from Yaounde to Bafousam, then another bus from Bafousam to Dschung where we stayed the night Saturday night. Sunday morning we woke up and took another bus from Dschung to Bamenda, and then a private car from Bamenda to Mamfe. What an experience! I couldn’t believe how many people can fit into those busses!

    Mamfe is HOT and HUMID. I dont know that we’ve ever sweated so much in one week, but not even this sort of heat could slow us down. We hit the ground running on Monday to begin UAC’s third year of CAC training. There were about fifteen participating coaches at the beginning of the week, including several returning coaches from UAC. By the end of the week we had closer to 25 coaches, both male and female. Our trainings were hosted at Mamfe’s brand new FIFA Football for Hope center. We found out shortly after arriving that our CAC training would be the first event ever held at the center. It is a really beautiful facility, equiped with a classroom, a computer room, and an office next to the football field. Wallace, a Community Impact Coach from CFDP in Kumba, joined us in leading our Coaches Across Continents training. He did a great job of leading and coaching games and was great company to us this week. We are looking forward to seeing him in a week when we head to Kumba for CFDP’s training from June 23-27.

    It was fun to lead CAC program in it’s third year. For this week, we focused on environment care, HIV, child protection and gender equality. The HIV games were a huge hit with this group. These games brought out a lot of laughs and a lot of great discussions. There is a game we played called Adebayor In The Community that the coaches really enjoyed. This game represents how quickly HIV can spread and also how making good choices like getting tested for instance, can protect you from contracting the virus.

    The coaches that participated in our child rights training session Wednesday morning brought a spark to the discussions that carried us through the rest of the week. The new addition to the CAC curriculum was a great opportunity for coaches, teachers, and volunteers alike to discuss, openly and honestly, some of the ways in which children in Mamfe are marginalized. We talked about how sometimes children are expected to work for their families and that those responsibilities are engrained in cultural expectations but can impede on that child’s right to play. We discussed the possibility and importance of not ignoring thst cultural norm but working within it, within reason. If a child is expected to perform chores or work for their household, some of the coaches stressed that it is important that they support these roles at home but thst they intervene if these chores become problematic for that child’s social development. It was great to hear coaches talking about how to tactfully and respectfully interact with parents and work to resolve the issue so that the child can enjoy the benefits of play and contribute to his/her household.

    Another fun thing to make mention of is that the World Cup started this week! We had the opportunuty to watch it with some of the coaches here in Mamfe on Thursday and Friday night at a nearby restaurant that played the game on a big projector screen. The power went out just before the opening game on Thursday, but thankfully the restaurant was able to find a generator quickly so that we didnt miss more than the first few minutes. Cameroonians sure love their soccer!

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  • Thoughts From Cameroon

    IMG_1374May 9, 2013.  By Earl Strassberger, Amanda Ferguson, and Brian Suskiewicz.  During the last two weeks the three of us have worked in Buea and Mamfe, Cameroon with our partner organization, United Action for Children.  Also heavily involved and participating were our other two Cameroonian partners, AVFAL (Limbe) and Cameroon Football Development Program (Kumba).  Both weeks were great.  UAC is a tremendous host organization, building a FIFA Football For Hope Center, running two private schools that reach 1,000 kids, and running sports programs in various communities.  They also have a great outreach and support program for other groups which we witnessed.  Anyone who needs assistance in Buea or Mamfe reaches out to UAC, and if it is a good cause then they will find a way to support it.

    As we had such a great two weeks together, here are some individual thoughts from our time working here with UAC:

    IMG_1395Amanda:   Never in my life did I think I would be learning and coaching soccer simultaneously…at the base of an active volcano…in Africa.  I find new experiences to be so much more rewarding if you are open to anything that may come your way – and this is no exception.  I was also told that this would be an experience that would change me.  This was grossly understated.  I will be honest and admit that my soccer experience up until this point in my life is extremely limited at best.  Okay, let’s be more honest.  I’ve never played a game in my life.  Gulp.  We’re teaching coaches how to foster a voice within their players; a vital quality in building their confidence.  How appropriate that on our fourth day of work, we were able to see their voices.  The coaches taught us the games we’ve worked on all week and I couldn’t be happier to feel their energy, hear their enthusiasm and SEE their voice.  These coaches and the people here have enriched my life more than I ever could have imagined.  I’m looking forward to another week…or weeks?

    IMG_1159Earl: Mamfe is my 5th (and final) location on this trip.  While there are many similarities, each location had its own uniqueness.  Mamfe’s started with getting here.  We got a ride in a Toyota Land Cruser with six passengers plus the driver, Antoine.  Plus a lot of baggage, a case of soda pop, and 25 bananas purchased on the way.  While the seats were comfortable, there was no room to move our feet.  The ride started out easy on a nice paved road.  But after a few hours the pavement ended.  The dirt road was hilly and full of gullies.  Antoine was marvelous but we were tossed around like rag dolls because of the car-sized craters.  We got the ride in the SUV because we came down with Mr. Orock, the creator of our partner organization, United Action for Children.  Mr. Orock is well-known and generous and we were treated like royalty.  With him we observed a big community football match, while sitting in the front row under a tent. Brian performed the ceremonial kick off and Amanda presented the award to the Man of the Match.  The interest in our training was evident, as we were interviewed by a radio station and even got our picture in the newspaper.  What was the same in all five places were the wonderful coaches.

    IMG_0491Brian: This was my second year coming back to Cameroon.  It is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places in Africa.  The people are warm and inviting and the landscape is beautiful as you can see from our pictures from Buea and Mamfe.  Most of the Southwest province is rain forest, and Buea is situated on the slopes of Mount Cameroon, an active volcano and the third largest mountain in Africa.  UAC is a well-run organization that reached out to anyone who needs assistance, making an immediate impact in their two communities.  The coaches are all excited to be involved and then do a good job implementing what they learn to the local kids.  Working with great groups like UAC, in outstanding locations like Cameroon, is why I love working for Coaches Across Continents.