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Etuge Sumbede Elvis was born the youngest of 7 children in a poor, rural community of SW Cameroon. His mother was forced into a child marriage to a much older man who died when Etuge was a toddler. After his father’s death, his mother struggled to raise the children on her own. Due to extreme poverty, only four of the seven children survived, and none except Etuge was able to attend school past the free elementary level. Etuge had the great fortune of being the youngest, as his older brothers and mother pooled their resources to ensure Etuge not only received a secondary education, but was also able to attend the university where he received a BSc in Management and a post-graduate diploma in Teaching. Having experienced both the suffering of abject poverty as well as the great benefits resulting from educational sponsorship, he has committed his life to helping others as a tangible demonstration of his gratitude. To achieve this goal, he founded Community Relief and Development Action (COREDA) in 2010.

Etuge’s passions center around two key areas – education and environmental stewardship. Children who are vulnerable because they are orphaned, who have been displaced by war (IDPs), or who suffer extreme poverty are his primary concern. He created a school to serve these children where they could not only receive an education, but where they could also find safety and encouragement. Etuge is committed to excellence, and it shows on his students’ national exam scores that are dramatically higher than the country average. It also shows in his desire to provide opportunities for holistic development. This ranges from tending to basic needs, such as a feeding program for those who cry and struggle to concentrate due to hunger, to his dance program that is reviving traditional dances and culture while bringing the joy of artistic expression and teamwork to the children.

Environmental stewardship is his second passion. Having grown up in a rural community, Etuge knows that farming is the lifeblood of poor Cameroonians. Over the past few decades, the productivity of the soil has been greatly diminished through unsustainable farming practices. This directly impacts poverty and suffering, especially among children and women in rural communities. He is therefore deeply committed to educating farmers on environmental stewardship and restoring the health and productivity of the ecosystem. Organic and regenerative agriculture is one of the most effective and immediate ways to improve the welfare of rural families, so this is a core activity for COREDA.

To donate to Cameroon-Etuge, click here.