Meet Mwene. He’s a 24-year old farmer who’s bringing clean water to his village despite all the odds. This is his story.
“Some of the visitors that come to our village don’t even drink the water here, because they know they’ll have problems”, says Mwene. Mwene makes this statement in frustration, as visitors are known not to stick around Ekanjoh due to the area’s questionable water source. This problem paired with bad roads and no telecommunications affects the village’s ability to trade and grow with the outside world.
Mwene is a cocoa farmer, and the son of the Chief overseeing Ekanjoh Bajoh. He has lived his whole life in this village, and has never had the convenience of using water without counting down the glasses till he’ll have to hike to fetch some more. Seeing his village still without clean, accessible water at the age of 24, Mwene felt he needed to drastically motivate change in order to address an absence that had been accepted for generations.
With little direction and resources, Mwene began writing a proposal with the village’s elders to bring a stream water catchment system to the village. Mwene undertook the task of finding a project partner without any connections and through heavy research and cold calls. Mwene had the added feat of traveling 3-4 hours by foot and motorbikes in heat and humidity through deeply trenched, unpaved roads in order to access a computer. If it had rained the night before, Mwene would have to find a way to safely cross the risen tides of his village’s rivers, and navigate through dangerous muddy slopes.
While Mwene ambitiously exerted his efforts to find a project partner for the village’s water project, the elders of his village saw it as a futile effort. For generations, the village had received little attention from external organizations, and any interested parties always fell through. Facing that defeat for decades didn’t provide any hopes or confidence in Mwene’s outreach.
Mwene’s young energy and confidence led to a persistence that the Water Collective team connected with.
Upon arriving at Ekanjoh Bajoh, several villagers voiced in unison to us: “No one believed Mwene until he left to pick you up at Douala.”
We asked, “Really? Why no one?”
One of the villagers answered, ”Because no one ever responded before.”
Pushing for change when you have the whole village behind you is easy, but to do it without anyone believing in your impact is courageous. You have to invest everything you have with the high possibility of losing it all. Mwene’s risks were severe than most, with an income of $0.50/day, and travel & Internet costing 12x his daily income. Despite everything, Mwene took this risk to satiate his passion for change, and he ended up changing the lives of everyone around him.
Mwene is now an active member in our Ekanjoh Bajoh project, designing and strategizing community economy, education, and health agendas. His village will be the first in the district to possess an accessible, clean water source with your help. You can support Mwene’s journey here.
Mwene Pierre is the founder of our project in Ekanjoh Bajoh, Cameroon. Project founders are local entrepreneurs, leaders, and motivators who come to Water Collective to jointly strategize sustainable, long-term water projects for their villages. Together we create foundations for water technology repair teams, and income-generating activities that will keep water maintenance a financial and operational reality.