SYFA in the Community
When Farmer Tantoh started SYFA, he initially focused on individual volunteer projects where he used his knowledge of organic farming to landscape local areas. Over time, he discovered that his efforts to sustain successful environmental projects were most effective when supported by a strong community. Tantoh subsequently started environmental clubs at local churches and schools where the members could learn first-hand about the importance of the environment and how to care for it. The community and education approach Tantoh took towards protecting the environment focused mostly on local youth so that the future generations could cultivate environmentally sustainable habits.
Currently the environmental clubs SYFA has set up are thriving and caring for their respective landscaping projects. Additionally, SYFA now has an active community of core youth volunteers that work in conjunction with Tantoh to start new landscaping projects and environmental clubs. Many of the youth in this core group live outside Nkambe and have aspirations of starting their own clubs in their hometowns. These clubs serve to foster a community wide engagement with the environment that sustains itself and grows. Tantoh has also been actively setting up an international network of activists who support each other. His program in Nkambe is now a model for other organizations around Cameroon, and Tantoh is working with larger organizations such as the World Agroforestry Centre to promote organic farming in the area. In addition to the environmental clubs, Tantoh is educating the larger community about environmental protection by teaching at a local agricultural school.
In the future, Tantoh hopes that the communities and projects he set up will build on their environmental awareness to become completely self-stainable. In order to have a strong foundation, SYFA is working to develop a centre for its operations where it can focus its organization and resources and provide environmental training. To ensure its financial sustainability, SYFA wants to build a canteen where it can sell its products. Once SYFA has a strong base network of sustainable support, it wants to take larger steps to help the environment. Because there are both individual and institutional components to protecting the environment, SYFA hopes that its larger projects, such as protecting all the local water sources and setting up a recycling centre in Bamenda, will set a precedent for much more environmental activism.