This June 2020, Afro Real Initiative (AFREIN) spotlights NJOUNKENG Daize Merville NKEOBOUH from Cameroon: a daring, firebrand, and young female leader, with a heart for empowering the underprivileged and a flair for community activism.
Be inspired to aspire, as you go through this phenomenal profile.
Who is NJOUNKENG Daize Merville NKEOBOUH?
Daize is a daring 18-year-old girl — born and raised in the South West Region of Cameroon. She was brought up with the “Just do it!” mindset, and this has shaped the course of her life. She’d gladly choose thorns over a bed of roses just to grasp lessons from the scars. Her very last name NKEOBOUH meaning “Voice to the Voiceless” says it all.
To Daize, volunteering is not just an activity but a life style! As an ardent volunteer, she takes delight in rendering services to her community — a passion ignited in 2018 when she was made an ambassador of the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, a U.S. Government exchange program.
Daize’s clean-up campaign with the children of her neighbourhood, after teaching them the importance of environmental hygiene.
Given that “charity begins at home”, Daize’s first community project engaged the children in her neighbourhood into discussions on environmental hygiene. She taught them the importance of good hygiene practices and followed-up with actions. Parents were shocked to see their children with plastic bags and so much dedication to clean the streets. After the impact created by this cleanup campaign, she became even more enthusiastic in giving her best for the greater good.
Daize’s great interpersonal skills were indeed a bonus towards her drive to engage youths into self-development and community-growth activities. She later involved her peers in her reach-outs and projects.
Some Sunday School children brandishing books donated by Daize.
Daize saw the need to lead after a visit to an orphanage for a fund raiser event. When she shared the idea of this project to her classmates, who became very interested, and within two weeks they were able to raise enough donations for more than 100 children at the HOTPEC Orphanage, Mile 14, Buea, despite the political crisis in South West Region. That’s how she started a team of 25 youth volunteers. Together, they actively carry out projects ranging from Gender-Based Violence sensitization campaigns, to sex education seminars, cultural and international exchange programs, cleanup campaigns, and startups for internally-displaced youths and families.
Daize and her team of youths below 19 years couldn’t have done it alone. While working under the YES program, Daize saw the need to network with community organizations like LUKMEF Cameroon, Next Generation Technologies, American Corner at the University of Buea, Women for a Change Cameroon, Ayah Foundation, Word Incorporation, and counting.
Planning session with team before the project “Restoring Hope To Internally Displaced Youths.”
Daize knows how to turn a disappointment into a learning opportunity. When the corona virus broke out, her inability to participate hands-on in community initiatives, was devastating. And that’s where the idea of “Real Youths Solving Real Problems” (RYSP) came to life. RYSP was a video documentary of outstanding Cameroonian youths making an impact in Cameroon. In the areas of technology and innovation, community engagement and youth motivation, business and entrepreneurship, etc. The video went viral, reaching above 500 Cameroonian youths and the testimonials have been so promising.
Daize goes by the credo that “Self-discovery is the first step to leadership!” She is radical when it comes to learning, and thus takes every opportunity to learn. Her quest for knowledge has taken her to places her peers would not necessarily go. She constantly attends conferences, seminars, workshops, webinars, and does online courses.
Daize believes that, “An empty vessel will never be respected!”
One thing that never leaves Daize is her compassion towards children.
Daize’s passion for public speaking developed at age 13, bootstrapping from her experience teaching more than 150 children then, in Sunday School.
She is willing to sacrifice to care for the lost, broken, poor, sick, and abandoned children.
As a voice, Daize can literally spend the whole day talking people up. She enjoys using words to encourage and build others. She finds pleasure in in-person dialogue. She insists, “Physical connection can never be compared to any other.”
Daize with U.S. Attorney and former Senator, Joseph Simon Donnelly, at the Civic Education Workshop organised by the U.S. Department of States.
Music equally moves Daize. She sings less often though, and has her own book of music. She finds gospel music encouraging and rich.
Networking, travelling, cooking, and spoken word poetry, ignite her.
Accolades, achievements, and awards
Daize owns her own YouTube channel whose aim is to motivate young people to be the very best version of themselves and be of service to their communities.
At 16, Daize won the prestigious Kennedy-Ludgar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Programme Scholarship to the United States of America, where she lived and schooled for a year.
She was also featured as the winner of the International Education Week’s best presenter, after the YES Program.
During the same program, she was also selected for the highly competitive Civic Education Week experience organized by the U.S. Department of States and Bureau of Cultural Exchange, where they were honored to dialogue with high dignitaries of the U.S. House of Congress and other political leaders.
Daize (middle) with Rene (left), caretaker at HOTPEC Orphanage — during Daize’s “iCARE About You” Project that supported more than 100 children at the Orphanage.
Daize’s projects and achievements have been featured on the websites of the U.S. Embassy, the YES Program, iEARN U.S.A., Program for Academic Exchange (PAX), and International Exchange Alumni.
As a YES Program graduate, Daize was nominated and featured as alumni of the month of January 2020, amongst thousands across the world, for her outstanding and continuous engagement in community service and youth motivation.
In 2019, Daize gave a welcome speech at the U.S. Embassy Cameroon, where she encouraged the newest alumni of the program to be actively engaged in community building and volunteerism. She has also been invited as a speaker on many other platforms in and out of the country.
Working Session with some IDPs who benefited from the “Restoring Hope To Internally Displaced Youths” Project.
In June 2019, Daize and her team won a grant of 1.2 million francs cfa (approximately $2,100) to fund The Restoring Hope Project, aimed at training internally displaced youths through workshops on soap production, fish roll, and beads jewelry production. The beneficiaries also had free medical health checks and counseling sessions. Some 40 internally displaced youths were trained.
Daize’s major achievement has always been the community impact created after her projects.
She has so far impacted more than 1,000 youths directly and indirectly, in and out of the country.
Daize gains satisfaction from the improved lives of her peers, and community.
Challenges, prospects, and way forward
One major challenge Daize has always faced is the mindset of the parents in her community. Many parents would discourage and even ban their children from participating in volunteer events even during the holidays, with the claim that they should rather be studying. Even though education could be a high priority, she thinks they are yet to understand the true benefits of volunteering.
As a high school student and a GCE advance level candidate, handling school and service projects has been a challenge for Daize. But, her time management skills have given her the edge to keep her reputation amongst the best in her school.
IDPs displaying their handicrafts at the end of the “Restoring Hope To Internally Displaced Youths” Project.
While doing the “Real Youths Solving Real Problems” video project, Daize faced several challenges reaching young change makers in Cameroon. She would leave several messages on their mail box, and messenger accounts, just to be able to feature them.
“Many of them were too busy, some were just interested in what they had to benefit from the project, and some of them underestimated me because of my age”, Daize revealed.
Convinced that God has blessed her with a big and motherly heart, Daize looks forward to founding an orphanage in future.
Daize wishes to make RYSP a series edition tasked with inspiring Cameroonian youths to engage actively in their communities.
Daize is eager to increase her horizon and gain new experiences. She plans to forward her studies in social humanities and political science at the university. She is very open to opportunities that would provide a platform for her to grow and be a bonus to her environment.
Word of wisdom to youths
Daize believes that God has enormously blessed us with gifts and talents and designed us to be problem solvers.
“Find [out about] that one thing you are passionate about. Even if you aren’t good at it yet, with dedication, good counseling and God’s guidance…you will get there. Give it time. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; one step at a time”, Daize admonished.
“Steal every opportunity to learn and make yourself better. Go digital. There are many learning opportunities out there, find them and maximize every one of them”, Daize emphasized.
“Never hesitate to lend a helping hand. What adds true value to one’s life is their ability to add meaning to another person’s life. Instead of complaining about the state of things in our country Cameroon, take action in your own little way to fix them”, Daize reiterated.
“Above all, put God first in all you do!”, Daize concluded.
NB: photo credits: Daize.
Links of websites that have featured Daize’s accomplishments:
Social media link: