By Rachel Gilbert
After one week of orientation with UTAMTSI in Bafoussam, a city in the West region of Cameroon, I am reassured that communication skills are without fail the most important of all. Effective communication can come in many forms, a lesson I learned two years ago when I arrived in Francophone Yaoundé unable to count to three in French. Sometimes, “franglais,” a mix of English (l’anglais) and French (le français) is the best method of communication. Sometimes it’s simply a hand motion or gesture.
One of the most important initiatives of UTAMTSI and GIC Sondason is to spread the word about the importance of organic agriculture, or l’agriculture biologique (bio). In our week with UTAMTSI, we traveled to Bafoussam’s surrounding villages to discuss organic agriculture with rural farmers, we appeared on a local radio show’s weekly segment regarding organic agriculture, and we toured Fondjomekwet’s sustainable agriculture projects, among them a honey project and the production of organic fertilizers. I watched as Christophe, my mentor, spoke with a Cameroonian couple from Maroua and explained the harmful effects of chemicals on one’s health and on the environment.
As we continue with our work, it’s clear that communication, whether through blogs, social media, face-to-face meetings, demonstrations, international conferences, or whatever the method may be, is of utmost importance. In our work, it is not enough to teach others about organic agriculture, recycling, or composting; we all have much to learn from each other. Collaboration and information sharing allows us to combine science, traditional knowledge, and experience to find truly sustainable solutions to the world’s problems.
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