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Besongabang Football For Hope Centre

Fri, 2014-07-11 08:12

Seeing a project come to life is one of the most rewarding experiences in life. It is also a source of pride to all involved and the greater the challenge before us the more one is driven to complete it. Besongabang Football for Hope is one such project. At a given stage the task seemed too herculean to accomplish and the obstacles too many in number to overcome: the remoteness of the site, the different culture, the harsh climate, the weak telephone and internet connections, the bad roads, the faulty electrical infra-structure, the language nuances, the upcoming deadline, etc. All seemed to pile up into an insurmountable mountain.
But the human spirit is just as hard and tough as any force in nature, and thankfully the people involved were perseverant and determined to complete one of the best designs conceived for the program. Regretfully the very young and talented author of the design – Nathan Jones, did not live to see his dream come to life. Nathan died in Cameroon due to malaria complications when the center was already halfway under construction. His demise was a great lose, and deeply lamented by colleagues and friends in Mamfe and Besongabang. As I arrived in Mamfe for the first time I would hear his name mentioned by many and testified that he was missed and left his imprint in the people of the region, such was his friendly and captivating character. With his passing away it became a point of honor to all those that worked closely with him, to successfully complete the project, no matter what the obstacles.
I must admit it was not easy, nevertheless six months after my arrival on site, we managed to have a completed building and a dazzling football pitch. Not even the strong heat of the region was able to keep people from working round the clock to have it all finished on time for an amazing and colorful local traditional inauguration ceremony, hosted by the center’s future occupant organization, the United Action for Children, Cameroon. The day was the highlight of the project; the pinnacle of our achievement. It mirrored the objective of FIFA and their partners, the desires of Nathan and Architecture for Humanity, and the hopes of many in Besongabang and the surrounding communities. For me, the memory I cherish the most is seeing the site filled with people and the pitch being “baptized” with the first juvenile match between the Besongabang team vs. the Mamfe team. It ended in a draw. Perhaps a final message that compromises can be made, and win-win situations are always possible even under the harshest conditions.
Besongabang Football for Hope stands now on its own two feet. It certainly took much work and sweat to be finished. Many hands from Besongabang, Mamfe, Cameroon, Africa, Europe, and North America joined in to make it a reality. They all deserve merit, and if nothing else, the walls stand to tell their story and their contribution. I heartily thank each and every one for their effort. It is a misconception to assume that a building is erected by a lone person. It takes many; each one pulling and pushing his neighbor; all towing toward the same finish line. As stated earlier: the bigger the challenge the greater the outcome, when it’s successfully reached. Thus a traveler passing through the jungles of Western Africa will hear of a new beacon and its penetrating light that guides all children in the Southwest Region of Cameroon to a marvelous center of hope and football. Make us proud!