Internship Descriptions

Internships in Cameroon are often largely research activities.  They also provide another way of getting to know Cameroon through a different sort of community.  These internships require some initiative on the part of the student who might see a need they themselves are able to fulfill.

Rebecca Coates- Finke

Middlebury College
Spring 2015

I interned at ACAFEJ (Association Camerounaise des Femmes Juriste--Cameroonian Association of Female Jurists). I learned a lot about the state of women’s rights in Cameroon and the general sentiments of folks around violence against women and marital laws. I was able to hear many stories of women who seek out ACAFEJ for legal advice and I was able to speak to the jurists about their experiences working with these women and their feelings about the state of women’s rights in Cameroon.

Winson Law
Middlebury College
Spring 2015

During my semester in Yaoundé, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mutuelle d’Epargne et de Crédit pour le Développement de l’Entrepreneuriat Féminin (MUDEF). MUDEF is a micro finance organization that provides savings and credit services to women and youth in Cameroon. With over 5,000 members, MUDEF supports its clients in helping them save money for the future and improving their micro enterprises throughout Cameroon.

Winson MUDEF Internship.jpg

My internship with MUDEF during the semester was to learn about the challenges that MUDEF’s women and youth micro entrepreneurs face and provide new insights that might help the organization better support its members. In this respect, the internship was more of an independent research project than an experiential and collaborative work experience. After researching micro finance in Cameroon since the 1960s, I did field research with MUDEF’s savings collectors in three different markets in the city. I spoke with and surveyed more than 50 micro entrepreneurs, which gave me a better understanding of the daily realities that marginalized residents of Yaoundé face. From a police force that threatens to confiscate merchandise to a lack of access to micro loans, my conversations taught me about the political, financial, and social barriers that these micro entrepreneurs face. At the end of my internship, I conducted a quantitative analysis of my data and wrote a report for MUDEF that summarized my findings.

Working at MUDEF was an important experience in a Cameroonian work setting that allowed me to learn aspects of the country outside of the classroom. Walking through the busy market in which MUDEF is situated, learning how to ask questions, and speaking with people gave me a better sense of where Cameroon is now and where it can go in the future. It also gave me a better sense of international development and the daily challenges that homegrown change-agents – from the employees themselves to the micro entrepreneurs – face. Most importantly, it taught me how to navigate a work and research environment in an international and Francophone setting.

Mariah Levin
Middlebury College
Spring 2015

My internship this semester was hosted by MUDEF and VEPDEF, two related organizations. My specific work was for VEPDEF (Femmes Volontaires pour la Promotion à l’éducation Populaire à la Démocratie, à la Paix et au Bien-être Economique--Women volunteering for the promotion of education for all, the democracy, peace and a strong economy). I conducted research in two primary schools (one public and one private) on the form of punishment on students.

My research consisted of 1 month of in class observations and then 56 questionnaires to teachers, students, administrators and parents. My findings were limited due to time as well was the size of my study however I found general trends that, I believe, made my research worth while. I now have a much stronger grasp on the motivation behind corporal punishment in schools, the teacher training system, the actions that lead students to be punished, the perspective of students, the types of punishments used etc. I found that the kinds of punishment that students report is dramatically different from what the teachers and administrators report. I took my findings and examined them from a psychological angle, considering the effects of corporal punishment and possible ways to lower the rate of use of corporal punishment in primary schools.

Anna Chamby
Middlebury College
Spring, 2015

In lieu of a fourth class, I interned with the Mutuelle d’Epargne et de Crédit pour le développement de l’Entrepreneuriat Féminin au Cameroun (MUDEF), directed by Madame Josiane Mbakop, between March and June. Through the internship opportunity, as suggested by my program director, I was able to conduct research for a thesis that I am planning to pursue next year at Middlebury for my International and Global Studies (regional focus in Africa, French language concentration) major.

When I first met one-on-one with Madame Mbakop, I explained that I was interested in maternal healthcare and meeting pregnant women to understand, from their point of view, how pregnancy is understood, managed, and carried out. In our meeting, we geared my interests towards a research question that also tied in MUDEF/VEPDEF’s interests: female autonomy in relation to maternal healthcare, as understood in biomedical healthcare settings in Yaoundé. The first step of the internship was document preparation, including a literature review and an interview guide.

For the research, Madame Mbakop linked me to an OB/GYN through MUDEF/VEPDEF’s networks at a private clinic, where I conducted seven interviews. Recognizing the time constraints of my research project, this private clinic doctor put me in contact with another OB/GYN at a public hospital. There, I interviewed 30 pregnant women (about four a day) who had come to the hospital for prenatal consultations. After research, I spent the last two weeks analyzing my results and writing my final report.

Emma Gee
Middlebury College
Spring 2015

For one of my academic credits this semester, I decided to do an internship for credit with the microfinance organization, MUDEF COOP-CA/VEPDEF. In actuality, I arrived in Cameroon looking for a way to complete my independent research for my thesis next year, and I was advised that an internship through MUDEF might be the easiest way to accomplish this research. Being fresh to Cameroon, shaky in French, and unsure of the nature of MUDEF, I agreed, and I started an internship with MUDEF in order to get connected with a doctor to do thesis research. The way this project worked is that I did my thesis research under the context of doing a project for MUDEF, and I wrote my final report for MUDEF on the same findings that I will be analyzing next year for my research. Technically, my internship was connected with the organization VEPDEF, which is the partner organization of MUDEF that consists of social services for the clientele; however, I conducted all communication with the director of MUDEF.

For the content of my internship (and thesis research) I studied eating habits of children: how children are talking about food, how mothers are making choices for the food for their children, and what societal factors are affecting these domains. To implement this research objective, I conducted interviews at Clinic Tonyé Atangana with the help of the director of the clinic, Dr. Morisseau-Leroy. I conducted my research first by waiting for mothers and children to show up by chance, then by interviewing many children that the doctor invited. I interviewed mothers, children ages 4-13, and Dr. Morisseau after each patient was interviewed.

I think an internship with MUDEF is theoretically good for some people, like students who actually want to work within the confines of this microfinance organization. However, in my case, my goal was to do thesis research, so I encountered some problems unique to the situation. I am grateful for the connection that Mme Mbakop made for me in connecting me with the pediatrician.