Challenge Yourself to Empower Others, Says One Young Leader in Cameroon

Njapen leading a YALILearns session in September 2019
Njapen leading a YALILearns session in September 2019

For Njapen Atuh, a community mobilizer at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation in Cameroon, reaching and empowering youth is a daily practice.

It wasn’t until her conversation with a group of secondary school students years ago, though, that she realized how she might educate the next generation in new ways.

“I asked this group of students about the cause of the high temperatures we were experiencing, and none of them could give me an answer,” Njapen says. “They had no knowledge of climate change.”

Njapen leading a YALILearns session in April 2019
Njapen leading a YALILearns session in April 2019

“I wanted to educate them not only about climate change as a concept,” Njapen says, “but also about how we as humans are contributing to the problem.”

Njapen decided to facilitate her own YALILearns session on the topic using the YALI Network Online Course “Understanding Climate Change” (also available in French).

“As you teach others, you learn more,” Njapen says, reflecting on the new information she learned as she planned and prepared for her session.

“I was unable to rent a projector for my session, so I had to master my subject as I couldn’t rely on the projector prompts,” Njapen added.

Njapen faced additional challenges when she couldn’t afford to rent a hall in her community. Instead, she decided to hold her session in local schools and churches, a kind of blessing in disguise, as she explains.

Njapen leading a YALILearns session in July 2019
Njapen leading a YALILearns session in July 2019

“It was in these schools and churches that I was able to easily meet with students,” Njapen says. “And I was careful to plan my session in Mutengene, an area with more teens who are out of school and could benefit most from these resources.”

Njapen advises other young leaders to think creatively in planning their YALILearns sessions.

“A perfect world isn’t a world without difficulties; it’s a world where you challenge yourself and have good memories to share,” Njapen says.

To this, Njapen adds that young leaders should think about the impact they want to have in their community: How do we want to be remembered?

“I want to be remembered as someone who empowered others in my community and equipped them with the skills they need,” Njapen says.

Recalling her session, Njapen was most moved by the response from her participants, students who hadn’t heard of climate change before.

“There was a happiness about them that kept me excited,” Njapen says. “Excited to learn and excited to share.”

Interested in Njapen’s work? Find out how you can facilitate your own session on our YALILearns page.

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