Internships in Cameroon are often largely research activities. These internships require some initiative on the part of the student who might see a need they themselves are able to fulfill.

L’Association de Sourires de Femmes (Women’s Smiles)

Emma Knoke, Middlebury College (remote)
I did a virtual internship for academic credit with L’Association de Sourires de Femmes (Women’s Smiles). Although at first I thought online would be difficult and impersonal, I can truly say this internship was incredibly rewarding in both fulfillment of my academic interest and my personal connection to the people at SdF and the communities they serve. I met with Viviane from SdF two times a week on Zoom to discuss the status of women and sexual minorities in Cameroun and the work being done to improve conditions. She also invited many people from other organizations that work with the LGBTQ and refugee communities to come talk with me based on my interests. I learned so much more from these conversations with people about lived experiences than what I could learn in a classroom. I felt a strong sense of community and solidarity through these conversations and through exchanging commonalities between feminist issues in the US and in Cameroun. I did my research paper on social and structural barriers to sexual health for women in Cameroun based on interviews I had with members of organizations that work with lesbians and trans people. My academic supervisor based in Cameroun was brilliant and incredibly helpful and supportive. I wish I had taken advantage of the opportunity to meet with her earlier and more often! It was intimidating to enter into an internship solely in French, but everyone I talked with was incredibly patient and helpful and my language skills definitely improved and became more comfortable. The whole experience of weekly meetings, research, writing the paper, and the oral defense was an incredibly rewarding and unique experience I would recommend again!

Association Camerounaise des Femmes Juriste—Cameroonian Association of Female Jurists

Rebecca Coates-Finke, Middlebury College
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.

Mutuelle d’Epargne et de Crédit pour le Développement de l’Entrepreneuriat Féminin

Winson Law, Middlebury College
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 microfinance 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.

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 microfinance 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 to summarize 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.

Anna Chamby, Middlebury College
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.

Femmes Volontaires pour la Promotion à l’éducation Populaire à la Démocratie

Mariah Levin, Middlebury College
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 one 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.


Eliza Findell, Middlebury College (remote)
I participated in a virtual internship with Women Volunteers for the Promotion of Popular Education for Democracy, Peace and Economic Well-being (VEPDEF) and the microfinance institution called MUDEF which was established by the organization.  We had weekly meetings with the leaders of the organizations to learn more about their work and discuss projects.  The leaders of the organizations and the director of the school in Cameroon guided us in a research project, and my chosen topic for this research project was the balance between social impact, reward, and risk for businesses financed by microfinance institutions.  It was very inspiring to hear some of the female entrepreneurs that MUDEF works with discuss the challenges, satisfactions, and overall experiences running their businesses.  I was also involved in developing a website for VEPDEF and MUDEF, using everything I had learned about the organization.

Anna Rosen, Middlebury College (remote)
I interned with VEPDEF and MUDEF in Cameroun. VEPDEF is an organization dedicated to supporting and uplifting Cameroonian women, and MUDEF is a branch of VEPDEF that provides financial support for small businesses through a microfinance credit union. It has been a very special, immersive experience to have when almost everything else has been cancelled, so I’m very grateful to work virtually. Throughout the semester, I focused my research on the intersection of microfinance and sustainable business, and the potential for this relationship to be both productive and socially beneficial. I conducted research by reviewing VEPDEF’s video interviews of women entrepreneurs and focusing on the social and environmental benefits of their businesses as well as the difficulties that they faced. 

Emma Gee, Middlebury College
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.