In the year 2000, a pastor from Cameroon met a couple who are former missionary teachers to Nigeria. He shared a burden that he and other church leaders had for the hearts and minds of the youth of Cameroon. This meeting led to a series of conversations and meetings with a larger group that lead to our first trip to Cameroon.
The unemployment rate in Cameroon is estimated to be 30 percent in the general population and much higher among youth. In this Central African country of over 20 million French and English speaking citizens, only 20 percent of the youth are able to attend school past primary school. Many of the youth who are able to complete secondary schools find that they don’t have employable skills.
In 2002, a team of Christian educators from the Philadelphia area made the first of yearly trips to Cameroon. They have met with church and government education leaders to discuss the needs of the youth. They found the need for quality secondary vocational training to be valid and worthy of further action. After returning to the U.S., this team formed the 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization Comprehensive Vocational Academies International known as CVAI. They designed CVAI as an organization that would promote religious, academic, and vocational skills to provide a comprehensive education in developing countries that will prepare young people to influence their culture and their nation. Now, dozens of individuals from Cameroon and the U.S. have become involved in this need. Plans were drawn up for a new Christian comprehensive vocational school. In 2004, a partnership agreement for a new school was signed with the General Secretary of the 100,000 member Cameroon Baptist Convention.
Much planning and effort went into the conceptual development of this new school. The school was not able to begin for a number of reasons. In 2010, CVAI was invited by the CBC to conduct workshops for secondary school teachers on teaching from a Christian Worldview in 2010. The workshops were hosted at Baptist Comprehensive High School, Njinikejem, near Belo. (BCHS)
Since we began direct involvement at BCHS Belo in 2010, CVAI has conducted teacher training from a Christian Worldview on each trip, established a computer lab (2011), a woodwork shop (2012), and a sewing lab in renovated rooms (2014). We were able to provide 17 additional machines from a donation that came from a local Pennsylvania school that had discontinued their sewing program. God is good and even provided the teacher for the sewing/tailoring program that school year! In addition, the library has been updated with 5,000 newer titles, and the drafting lab has been upgraded (2012).
Our method has been to work alongside our Cameroon partners on smaller projects that have a large impact on the students of the school, typically one or two labs each year. In 2014-15, over 30 local pastors were trained by school staff in computer skills during three weekend workshops. Funding for this training was provided by CVAI, and the New Life Glenside Missions Committee. In 2015 the Electrical workshop was expanded and upgraded with supplies and equipment provided through a grant from the New Life Thrift Store.
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