Our Better Beed Cameroon youth of the month for December 2021 is Ndjafo Paco Melville, a young and enterprising youth leader who has been steering community development from in Limbe for over a decade right to the town of Kumba. He was recognised by the Victoria International Media Merit Award as Youth Leader of the Year in 2019 and 2020, and recently organised the fourth edition of a talent show which compels youths to Say No to Drugs.
Tell us a about yourself?
I am Paco Melville, a business man by profession who does contract sales and supplies. I have had a lot of experience when it comes to leadership, involved in multiple community development projects. I have been the secretary general of the Organization of Limbe United Youths from 2004 to 2007 where I lead more than a thousand youths from all over the Limbe municipality. I am also the current president of the Mowoh United Youths.
You recently organised the fourth edition of the of a popular street show in the town of Limbe. Can you tell us what inspired this project?
The Mowoh Street Talent Show is a live music competition for young artistes – meaning they have to sing live; vocals is what we want. The winner goes home with cash prize of 100.000 franc and a trophy. This is a crowd pulling event and we always have more than a thousand people gathered to enjoy the show. What really inspired me to organise the show is that I realised a lot of youths in the Limbe municipality have engaged themselves in illegal drug consumption called marijuana, cocaine, tramadol, tramol, which all have a negative repercussion on their health and actions. What we are facing today in the anglophone crisis is being instigated by the consumption of such drugs. The theme of the Mowoh Street Talent Show is SAY NO TO DRUGS, DEVELOP YOUR TALENT and we use this platform to educate the youths, talk to them about the malice of illegal drug consumption. We tell them that they have talent and potentials in them that if they really work on, they can become great people in the society tomorrow. We’ve also decided to use music because most of the young artistes think it is when you consume drugs that you are inspired to go high in the music career but we telling them NO; if you consume drugs you will instead derail from your music career. So we tell them to say NO to drugs, concentrate on their potential and improve on their talent.
What appraisal can you make of its progress so far?!
We are having positive results because a lot of them have testified that they no longer consume those drugs again and now they are improving on their talent. And I must say the percentage crime rate in my area has really dropped due to the educative talks and sensitisation we have been doing through the show concerning the consumption of illegal drugs. I am really happy things are going positively in my community because of this show and a lot of persons are also appreciating us for organising such a show. It has brought out a hidden talent in most of the youths who didn’t know they could sing.
What other community development projects have you lead?!
I had the Paco Melville Junior Football Tournament in Limbe and Kumba which was a great football tournament for young people. We had up to the thirteenth edition in 2016 and due to the crisis, we could not continue but it was a football competition loved by a lot of people. Also, I championed the manual digging of the road to the Mowoh Government School. We the youths came out and had to dig the roads manually because the school had no motorable roads. I donated benches to them and built a school toilet for the teachers and students, in addition to giving scholarships to the best three students in the school every year. Humanitarianly I supported flood victims in 2019 with matrasses, bags of rice, soaps and all those to tell them all hope is not lost for them to have a start again in life.
Can you share with us some of the challenges you faced in these?!
It has not been easy. I faced a lot of challenges especially when I was organizing the football tournament; we did not have a field and for the government to give us the Community field it was not easy, at one point I felt discouraged to even continue but when I looked at the positive impact it creates to the youths, making them move away from juvenile delinquency I was always forced to continue organizing the tournament. When the anglophone crisis break out I was being threatened by the so-called separatist fighters not to organize the tournament again. That I want to show that things are fine in the anglophone zone; let me go on to organize it and face the consequences ahead. I just thought life is very very important and had to stop for the meantime with not organizing the football tournament again. Otherwise I have not had that much challenges when it comes to organization of developmental projects because I put God first and I believe he is there to tackle any challenge that comes my way.
Many youths who ambition venturing into community development projects often decry the lack of funding. Drawing from your experience, how do you suggest they overcome this challenge?!
To engage in a developmental project, you need finances. It has not been easy with me. I don’t pluck money from a tree. I am a statesman and not a politician. I have my small company that I opened to sustain my community development projects. They say saving is the power of investment, if you don’t save you cannot invest so I always save little bits so that I can sustain my community development projects. From 2005 till date I have spent close to 70 million on developmental projects if you put together and that money I raised from my own sweat and business. If youths want to engage in community development projects, the youths first of all, I am pleading, you need to have something doing. Don’t depend on other people’s pockets to carry out your project. For a start it is always difficult but when you start you will keep going. Nobody will come from anywhere to get you going. Find an income generating activity where you can generate income and support minor projects.
What is your ultimate goal or objective as a young person engaged in community development in Limbe and are there any bigger engagements in view?!
As a young man my ultimate objective is to impact my community positively, to see how we can fight corruption, juvenile delinquency, gender-based violence, segregation. Preaching social cohesion. In the bigger picture I hope to hold an elected office; that is why I had to do international studies. I am a holder of an ABS Certificate from the Association of Business Executives, I have a diploma in Project Management and Human Resource Management respectively because I know tomorrow I can hold an office of that magnitude and I will need to manage projects, I will need to manage people successfully, building that society where we can be happy, and one that can be used as reference.
What do you think Cameroonian youths need to know or do to become Better Breeds?!
What I think our Cameroonian youths need to know is that they shouldn’t think of what the government has done for them but rather on what they can do to better their community. See how you can assist in your own little way to better your community, impacting it positively. You are never too small to do so. This is the only legacy that we can leave because when we must have left the stage, history will hold it that when we were there we did something. Leave a legacy as a young man, assist the government in building your community. That is my humble plea to young people. We should not engage ourselves into criminal activities but work together as a team. There is a saying that team work is when ordinary people come together and produce extraordinary results. The success in what I have been doing comes because I have working with a team. The Bayangi man says “chem ti”. When we work together we are going to go that far.