The goal: to design, fund and construct development projects in the village of Bambouti, Eastern Cameroon.
In September 2009, two final year civil engineering students, Emily Hill and Claire Gott, decided that they would like to become involved in an international development project. Only a month later, they met with Patrick Mballa, the founder of a charity called Mosame Trust. The main aim of the trust is to aid development in a village called Bambouti, Eastern Cameroon. With this in mind, Emily and Claire realised that the knowledge and resource they had gained could be used in meeting the trusts aim. By November of 2009 they had assembled a team of twenty like-minded third and fourth year civil engineering students, and Cameroon Catalyst was formed.
By August 2010, the Cameroon Catalyst team had designed, funded and constructed the January Hope Community Centre, which was then handed over to the village of Bambouti. In a period of just eight months the team had completed what a first, seemed an impossible task. Through consistent hard work, the desire to deliver and continued support they delivered a building which has now become the central point of a community.
Project 2012: design, build and fund a primary school and a safe play area
The school will consist of four classrooms split into two buildings, with a rain water harvesting system in between. It has been designed as separate buildings to provide a safe enclosed area away from the busy road for the children to play outside, which will help reduce the number of road traffic accidents as well as providing primary education for the village.
The construction will be carried out by local labourers in Babouti, rather than the students, to help the local economy. The students plan to visit the village when the building is nearing completion in June.
Each year Cameroon Catalyst has a core team made up of students from the University of Southampton. As well as this, the core team are supported by an extended network including previous team members.
2013: To provide power to Bambouti
This year's Cameroon Catalyst team are fundraising £30k to build an energy station in Bambouti to provide electricity to the village. This is primarily to improve the medical facilities, by allowing vaccines to be refrigerated, and to provide electrical lighting. The electrical hub will use a hybrid system of solar panels and diesel generators.
Each project is led by suggestions from the village and is entirely self-funded through sponsorship and fundraising; the students come up with a design, cost it and fundraise to pay for the build labour and materials. Fundraising events so far have included running half marathons, the 3 Peaks Challenge and walking Hadrian's Wall.
Cameroon Catalyst has helped me realise that by being given the opportunity to study Civil Engineering at the University of Southampton, I can help to change the lives of people by using the skills I have learnt. This year the construction of a school in the village will help to change the lives of so many young children and give them a chance to learn an education and change their lives for the better.