With over 230 linguistic groups, Cameroon boasts the greatest cultural diversity in Africa. In addition, the country’s wide variety of geographic landscapes including beaches, deserts, rainforests, mountains, and savannas, has led it to be deemed a miniature version of Africa. Even as one of the more politically and socially stable countries on the continent, Cameroon is still developing. There is always help needed in various community development centers and non-profit social organizations. For those interested in getting experience in social work, interning in Cameroon is a great idea.
Community Development: There are several areas of community development that need extra help in Cameroon. Since the economy is largely based on subsistence agriculture, one of the best ways to support a community center, orphanage, or non-profit organization is through cultivating small farms. Interns in Cameroon are also highly encouraged to leverage their creativity and business know-how to brainstorm and implement ideas to make a positive contribution to the local community.
Healthcare: As a developing country, Cameroon’s healthcare system is far behind those in industrialized countries. The average life expectancy an extremely low number of 51 years, and the large maternal death rate is alarming. Internships in health and community medical care in Cameroon are a great way to see first-hand how these issues affect the local community and also give you the opportunity to directly address some patients’ health problems. Midwifery is also a very popular profession in Cameroon, so there are many internship opportunities in either direct support in birth centers and hospitals, or in organizing training materials for future midwives. Regardless, there are numerous internship opportunities in Cameroon for those who would like to gain experience in field of healthcare.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Most internships in Cameroon are offered during the summer, but it isn’t impossible to find an opportunity throughout the rest of year. One of the easiest ways to intern in Cameroon is to apply online through an internship program provider, which usually has established relations with international non-profits or local community centers. Pay attention to the application deadlines and requirements!
Cost of Living in Cameroon
The cost of living in Cameroon is a little lower than average compared to other countries around the world, and considerably higher than some African countries. Groceries and communication costs including wireless Internet and mobile phone data tend to be quite high, while household accommodation prices are lower. Keep in mind that living costs are much lower in rural villages and less metropolitan areas. Below are some examples of living costs in Douala, Cameroon (1 USD is approximately equivalent to 500 CFA).
- 1 bedroom apartment in City Center: 196,776 CFA
- 1 bottle of water: 315 CFA
- 1 way transportation ticket: 195 CFA
Work Culture in Cameroon
- Etiquette: The etiquette and business customs in Cameroon will vary based on geographical location. People in Francophile areas may greet each other with kisses on the cheek whereas people in Anglophile areas may simply shake hands. It is always a good idea to dress conservatively and show respect to everyone you work with. Cameroonians operate on a high level of trust and respect, so it is important to make good impressions. The general work atmosphere is relatively casual, as business meetings are often held in public places and interrupted periodically.
- Language: French and English are the most widely spoken languages in Cameroon. Amongst most community centers and non-profit organizations, English is utilized most often, so there is little need to scramble and learn a new language for the workplace. If you would like to learn more about the hundreds of languages spoken in Cameroon, don’t hesitate to engage in conversation with a local!
- Networking: Networking in Cameroon has less of a professional or business focus. Instead, it is based off of the central foundation of the extended family in Cameroonian culture. It isn’t uncommon to see people hiring their relatives as there is already an established level of trust. In this sense, it is very important to form good relationships with those you interact with. If you are interested in joining an official professional network, feel free to check out the Cameroon Professional Society or the Cameroon Expat Community.
Work and Labor Laws in Cameroon
Cameroon’s work and labor laws outline general guidelines and rights for workers, which are extended to interns. Most of the international debate about Cameroon’s laws revolve around the issue of child labor, which the country allows. However, it is common to see most international interns to be unpaid.