Testimonial of Fanny, former child at the Bafia Center of the Serge Betsen Academy
“My name is Fanny Mvembe and I am a student at the University of Yaounde I.
In 2011, while I was in year 10(equivalent of 3èmein Cameroon), I heard from other kids about a not-for-profit organisation called SBA that supports children in need, most of whom are from particularly poor families. At the time, I was living with my mum close to where the weekly meet-ups of the Rosy Centre (the former name of the Centre Bafia) were taking place. She was my only relative and she was trying her best, with her meagre salary, to keep me in school and to make ends meet, which was pretty hard for her.
When I entered year 11 in September 2011, Mr Jean-Cyrille Monthe, the manager of the center (whom all the kids affectionately called Papa) selected me to join SBA. After my first week, I could no longer refer to SBA as an organisation because it is a lot more than that. It is a family, a very large family. From school supplies, schooltutoring to school fees… it provides for everything and neither I nor my mum had to worry about my education any longer. Then I grew in this family which very quickly became my family. The following year, I passed the year 12 exam (Probatoire C) and after that the final year 13 exam (Baccalauréat C).
During all this time, in addition to the school tutoring, the manager of the center supported us individually, gave us English lessons and ran discussion groups during which we could tackle any topic. This completely transformed me. SBA rebuilt me and in fact it rebuilt each of its students. It gave us a moral compass, values of love, solidarity, generosity, tolerance and forgiveness. We all came out stronger, more mature, full of hope when most of us had lost hope. These days, I study at the University of Yaounde I for a Physics Masters, a course that few women attend. It was not difficult to choose it, because one of the things we learnt at SBA is that there should not be barriers to the education of women.
Unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to give back to SBA as I am not financially able to. But I plan to! I lack time because of how demanding my course is, which is why I have not yet been helpful to my younger SBA brothers and sisters. But I try, when I can, to give them advice regarding their options at University. And I hope from the bottom of my heart to be able to do more for them and for SBA as it took me to where I am now.”