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Small Actions, Big Impact | James Akaba

Updated: Mar 31

(An informal & random beginning-of-year-2024 message to the Open Dreams OD Community and the wider public)

Day one of 2024! A few more to go before #OD@10 celebrations.

The very supportive and enabling OD Hubs provide plenty of opportunities for community engagement, experiential learning, professional development, leadership development etc while serving. If you are not yet rooted in at least one OD Hub, start off 2024 by getting rooted to at least a hub – at most two.

Thank you, Team Douala, for delivering one of the most heartwarming Aviva Day videos. We love the love in the air as you all translate it from the hearts to words and then gifts to the babies in utmost need of our support. Indeed, #WeCare. We will watch the videos again and again to spur us into more action for the community. The USA is a giant today, thanks in part to the community volunteering spirit. How that cheers the heart! Take it away, Team Douala...

As we look back to 2023, we can’t be thankful enough to all the active videographers helping to propagate the best of OD. We imagine how much time and effort it takes to process bulk video content and upload in areas like Bamenda where sometimes a simple voice clip on WhatsApp or PDF document is barely downloadable due to poor connectivity.

Reflecting on “Small Actions, Big Impact”, two quick transformative experiences stand tall:

- As a kid growing up in Bamenda, the foot of Bamenda Station Hill was the deadliest part of the city due to automobile accidents. Heavy duty trucks, 70-seater buses and these minibuses we used to call, “Swine mob” etc would lose control while descending the hill and typically crash into the Mbingo Baptist Hospital compound, leading to fatalities, sometimes up to 8 of them in a single crash. Too often, December was a month of mourning in Bamenda, instead of one of celebration – many were helpless in the face of a significant community challenge that was taking away lives. Among the dead in one of the years was the son of a Presbyterian pastor who got in from abroad after his PhD Program. Before he could reach home for the monumental celebration and thanksgiving planned for the following Sunday, his life ended tragically at the Finance Junction, and everything turned to naught all in an instant. The initially planned merry-making events transformed into gatherings of pain and agony - who would be the next?

Fast forward, the authorities of the Mbingo Baptist Hospital with the supervision of the then NW Governor - Adrien KOUAMBO, in 2002, mobilized about 14 million frs from the population and the government to build a sand bay which vehicles could use as a soft landing pad when the brakes failed while descending the hill. It’s 21 years today and not a single soul has been lost along the station hill, to the best of my knowledge, and people have even forgotten how deadly and bloody this spot used to be.

In the picture above, a brewery truck safely lands in the sand bay. This would have been a catastrophe, but the presence of the sand bay made it a life-saving scenario. Imagine how many lives have been saved to this day - "Small Actions, Big Impact”. Another way of putting it - if you do one thing right, you do many other things right. Almost every little thing you do has a ripple effect. Life is like a wave motion in which you are at the heart of action in generating the pulses, while also entertaining pulses from your external environment.

- In 1995, we also participated in planting the Eucalyptus trees along the Station Hill under the then North West Students Association, NOWESTA. Those Eucalyptus trees, to this day, act as solid barriers to cars that lose control along the hill. Without the trees, they would fall freely into the valleys, and there is hardly any chance of survival if that happened. “Small Actions, Big Impact”. We carried similar tree-planting actions in the forests of the Tubah grass field (Extension B, IRA/IRZ), under the Swiss Organization for International Cooperation (HELVETAS), to protect the water catchment, so people in Tubah can have access to water. These have contributed to community resilience and sustainability. “Small Actions, Big Impact”.

Extrapolating into our daily routine, ultimately clicking on the “Submit Button” is such a small Action, with the potential to change the trajectory of one’s life. Unlike yesterday, today we are blessed to have computers and the internet. Life could not be any much easier.

This year, strive to click on the “Submit Button” not just for scholarship applications – let’s work on as many projects as we can, to take further the small actions that can lead to big impact in our communities. Give your ideas wings through small actions. Last year in total, we as a community collectively implemented projects close to $100,000 (gross estimate). This year, with growing expertise in the house, we can scale up to $500,000 or beyond. It is through such actions in the community that we are putting our creativity, intellect and leadership gifts at the service of the community. Our brains and hands are the most formidable tools we can apply to lift our communities up.

On an aside, thank you Dr. Patience Kunu Mbonge , Dr. Kimonia Awanchiri, Dr. Platine Nyuyki and Hope Munyam, for entertaining us on the setbacks of Alcohol (“Please, do not let your end-of-year celebration be the end of your life because of Alcohol and reckless habits. There are good things everywhere, but your health is your responsibility until we realize that we will keep dying and looking for who to blame” – Dr. Patience Kunu). Even sweet drinks too, have their downside when consumed in excess. Water is golden. Sometimes one just needs to drink water like a pro in some of these exotic places when out to chill. If I was drunk, I would probably not be typing this message at this moment. Well, I would rather be drunk with knowledge (and wisdom) than with alcohol.

We have miles to go with the sanest mindset as 2024 unravels.


- Akaba A James | Open Dreams

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