Green Care is a membership-based NGO operating from Shisong, in the Kumbo Region of the Bamenda Highlands, Cameroon. We organise environment and development projects for local communities and international volunteers. These include tree planting, environmental education, training in sustainable agriculture and livelihoods diversification.
Read our 2016 annual report.
Green Care was founded in 1994 with the belief that rural communities could do more with their resources if they had better information on how to manage their soil, water, biodiversity and agriculture, and if they had training in techniques for sustainable natural resources management and developing new sources of income.
Since then, we have worked with nearby communities, local and global partners, and many volunteers to act on this belief. Today, our mission is:
“To empower local communities and build networking opportunities across the world, to work towards the sustainable use of local resources – with an overriding commitment to education, poverty alleviation and community development.”
We became an official ‘Association’ in 1998. Since then, we have been bringing local people and international volunteers together to work on environment and development projects. We train people in a range of activities to strengthen their livelihoods and encourage sustainable natural resources management. This is done through workshops and training sessions on subjects including tree planting, beekeeping, mushroom cultivation and conservation. We also work with communities to help them earn an income from these new skills.
We usually work with existing community groups, which are common in our region, and bring them together with Green Care staff and international volunteers. In addition to field- and village-based training, we now carry out training at our dedicated training centre.
We raise funds for our work through fees for training workshops and the sale of goods like honey, tree seedlings and mushrooms. We are also grateful for the support of our friends and sponsors, including Peace Corps, GlobalGiving, betterplace.org and Green Ink.
In 2008, Green Care Shisong was awarded the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV, now The Conservation Volunteers, TCV) Green Heroes Judges’ Special Award signed by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh “in recognition of … commitment to environmental volunteering and … local community”
Green Care is based in the Bamenda Highlands, a chain of mountains near Cameroon’s border with Nigeria. These highlands were once covered with montane forest, a globally rare and exceptionally biodiverse habitat. Although some large fragments remain, most of the forest has been cut down. Commercial timber species were extracted in the colonial era, and the trees have been steadily cleared for farming and grazing lands since.
Most of the people of who live in the Bamenda Highlands are subsistence farmers. They grow rain-fed crops including maize, potatoes, beans and vegetables, as well as keeping some livestock. Some sell a few crops, and beekeeping is another important source of income.
The region is very hilly, and the growing demand for farmland has led to increased use of marginal, sloping terrain. Many farmers face problems of declining soil fertility, low crop productivity and few opportunities to diversify their livelihoods away from crop production. They also face increasingly erratic rainfall as climate change begins to affect us, as well as frequent soil erosion incidents. We help them to find ways to combat these challenges through training, workshops and information.
We are based in Shisong, a large village around 3 kilometres from the town of Kumbo. Shisong is famous for the St Elizabeth Catholic General Hospital, which is the home of one of Africa’s leading cardiology centres.
To achieve our mission, we work with a wide range of international partners.
Our current international partners include:
Our local partners include:
Would you or your organisation like to become a partner? Get in touch!
Green Care has welcomed volunteers from all across the world. We have always had strong relationships with visitors from abroad and this has led to many lifelong friendships. We benefit from the new ideas and perspectives that volunteers, from Cameroon and abroad, bring to our organisation and the community, while the volunteers get hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture, forest restoration and working with farmers.
Interested in volunteering with us? Contact us to find out about opportunities and staying in Shisong.
Here, a few share their memories of volunteering with Green Care.
I first visited Shisong in 2005 to help establish a partnership between Green Care and the international team at BTCV. After the long bus journey from Douala to Kumbo – which included a stop for grilled plantain and an hour spent chasing a goat that fell off the roof – we took a bush taxi to Shisong, and I enjoyed the first of many sunsets over the village with a cold ‘33’ beer.
The Green Care team showed me their area and together we made plans to bring a larger team of volunteers back for a working holiday. Two years later, I returned with a team from the UK for the first BTCV working holiday in Cameroon.
Over two weeks, we trekked through the hills, spotted brightly coloured birds, built beehives, visited caves and went nightclubbing. But most importantly we planted hundreds of trees, working alongside the neighbouring communities. Those trees should now be fully grown and protecting the water sources in villages around Shisong. And I often wonder if the bees enjoy living in the hive I built for them.
As a Peace Corps volunteer from 2009–2011, I had the privilege of being hosted by Green Care. After three intense months of Peace Corps training in the west region of Cameroon, I finally arrived in what would be my home village of Shisong and was greeted with a cold beer, a plate of soya and a happy, energetic team at Green Care. We spent that evening telling jokes, laughing and talking about how I could help them.
For the next two years I worked closely with Green Care, planting 10,000 trees, establishing 50 beehives and assisting in building a water catchment for the community. After days filled with work, evenings were filled with food, drinks and many laughs. They introduced me to their culture and, during my time in the village, I was given a Title of Respect by the Fon.
Working with Green Care was one of the most rewarding and amazingly fun experiences of my life. Since my time in the Peace Corps I have kept in contact with all my friends in Green Care and I have gone back to Shisong; and I plan on returning to continue helping with Green Care projects.