Miss Casandra Dohmatob
Diary Of A Beauty Queen
Tuesday 5th April 2011:
I only had an hours rest but I did not mind because I was anticipated to reach Nsimalen Airport-Cameroon. Our flight took off at 6:30am and we arrived safely in Cameroon on the same day at around 5:45pm in the afternoon. The business class experience on Brussels Airline was one of the
best experience I have ever been treated to. I’m still trying to take it all in that I am actually Miss Cameroon UK. Although at times I don’t feel like it because I try not to take advantage of the opportunities that I am given. But everywhere I go people do not call me by my name but Miss Cameroon. I have to say it feels nice to be respected by having such a title. I will always be grateful for that. As I got on the plane, I had a selection of different wines to choose from and of course I chose the rosé. I was sitting in business class with top business men and women. The best thing about the whole experience was the amount of space I had to myself on the flight. To be treated like this was amazing especially as I haven’t travelled anywhere in 12 years. To get this opportunity to see my family again after 12 years was on that I could not miss. As we arrived at the airport in Cameroon, there was an entourage of journalists such as Vision Carte waiting for an interview along with a whole host of family and friends. We then travelled to my uncle’s house in Yaoundé where a reception was held for our arrival.
Wednesday 6th April 2011:
Today we had a lovely lunch with Richard, Jocelyne and the Cameroon Business Club. It was in a lovely location in Yaoundé. The name of the restaurant was: Restaurant Tre-Tar. We had an immediate taste of what foods we were going to be eating in Cameroon. As there was a selection of different foods, I couldn’t stop being confused as to where I should start. After the lunch, however, we returned home where I spent the rest of the day catching up with my family.
Thursday 7th April 2011:
We had a day packed full of places to go and things to do. We had an early start today, with an interview on Hello TV. The interview was very much about the launch of the Cameroon Business Club and partly introducing us to members of the public. It was a great opportunity to meet and greet the presenters of Hello TV and also get a first-hand experience of what it is like backstage. Thereafter, we attended the launching of the Cameroon Business Club and the networking session at the Hilton Hotel in the heart of Cameroon- Yaoundé. We were also asked up to a crowd full of people who came for the launching of the Cameroon Business Club about the journey as Miss Cameroon and what opportunities it has brought as it is just part of the many well established projects created by Richard. Furthermore, we were interviewed once again by Vision Carte, seems like the viewers could not get enough of us.
Friday 8th April 2011:
Finally it was Friday, the end of the week but more duties to perform. We visited a maternity ward in a hospital in Yaoundé. This was all part of Claudette’s initiative as she is a third year midwifery student graduating this year. Claudette felt as though she has the knowledge of midwifery, so why don’t she use this to help others back home in her country but in order to do so it was crucial that she made this visit to see where the starting point was going to be. We were once again followed by a camera crew. We got a first-hand experience at the impoverish condition that the maternity ward was facing compared to what we have here. There were lack of hospital beds, medicines and equipment. It was also very shocking how there was only one theatre room where operation would take place. We had some donations such as powder soap, baby clothes and equipment of which we gave to the maternity ward. Later that day, we had to make our way down for an amazing stay at Hotel Seme Beach in Limbe. The journey was long but worth it. We stayed in a lovely apartment almost close to the beach itself. We arrived at the hotel quite late so we couldn’t take advantage of what the hotel had to offer. The owner of the hotel welcomed us himself, it was quite a pleasure to meet him and he was incredibly nice to us. He opened our fridge and saw that it was empty and requested for it to be filled. He also informed us that we had an interview with Canal TV on Wednesday and the presenter of Canal TV came up to our suite to greet us himself.
Saturday 9th April 2011:
Today we got the chance to really explore the hotel. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were all provided by the hotel and they were magnifique. Hotel Seme Beach has been approved by our president as the best hotel in the South West. That evening we also took the advantage to check out the night club at the hotel where there was good music, drinks and we also had the chance to meet other people.
Sunday 10th – Friday 15th April 2011:
During our time at Hotel Seme Beach, Madel, Claudette and I got to really bond which was one of the main purpose of the whole trip. We got to know a lot about each other which was really nice as I see them as my sisters now. Before Miss Cameroon as a whole, it was difficult to find other Cameroonians of which I could be friends with but this whole experience has brought me closer to Claudette as I did not know that her family and mine knew each other. If not for this experience we would not have found each other. We visited Bonabokombi Health Clinic but however I was unable to fully participate as I fell ill which was quite a shame but once again we brought donations and also got to see the harsh conditions involved in finding remedies in health. There were lack of hospital beds, lighting, lack of medicines and equipment. The building itself was not in good condition. The purpose of visiting these areas was to see in which areas help was needed and how it could be given. We also took the time to visit the Limbe Wildlife Centre where we saw all different sorts of endangered animals including gorillas and many others. It was unfortunate that we couldn’t visit Mount Cameroon in Beau and the Botanical Gardens in Limbe because of the lack of time as we had a very busy schedule. In addition, we drove down to Down Beach were we enjoyed some grilled fish and some Top by the beach. Unfortunately, on the 15th Claudette and Madel had to return back to Yaounde to catch their flight back to the UK whilst I stayed to enjoy Bamenda (Bali) with my family.
Friday 15th-21st April 2011:
After not seeing my family for 12 years, the opportunity to spend just a week with them in Bali was an opportunity that I could not disagree to. As I could not really remember how Bali looked like it felt very new but nearly everyone could remember. Everyone kept on congratulating me for the achievement that I brought back home as Miss Cameroon and because of this I received a traditional blessing from both my grandparents from my maternal and paternal side. This traditional blessing is called the Chen-Chi. One of my aims from this whole experience was in helping children, so in order to do so I visited the Grace Stay Shelter in which is an orphanage in Bosa. As I arrived, the children welcomed me with a song. Grace, the owner of the orphanage was in her 80’s and she felt it as a duty and a blessing to be able to help children. What is so great about it is the fact that she receives no funding but only uses her pension that she still receives from America as she is an American from Chicago. She uses this only source of funding to feed the children and send some of them to school. Furthermore, they have a voluntary primary school teacher who comes to teach the children basic English and Maths. Some of the problems that the orphanage is facing is lack of water, lighting and also funding. So many of the children have the potential to educationally succeed and have a future but because of the lack of funding to send them to school, it is rather unfortunate. The location of the orphanage is also in an area where there are no people living close by and no children for the children to socialise/play with so the children only have themselves. There are not any means of transportof which the children can be taken out for a field trip visit to the zoo for an example. There are rooms with 3 beds of which about 7 children share. I also brought donations such as pens, pencils and clothing of which was given to the children. This experience has taught me some values in life and this orphanage is the area in which I intend to start helping. I have taken it up as a duty that every time I visit Cameroon, I must visit the Grace and the children in the orphanage bringing more donations and more help and we would be grateful if others can help as to help the others is to help yourself and at the end of the day we are doing something for a country we all know and love. We should not allow others to do our jobs for us. I had to travel back to Yaoundé on Thursday 21st as I had to catch my flight back to the UK the next day after a great experience.
This was a wonderful experience, one in which many do not have. To get a free business class flight to Cameroon, a seven night’s stay at Hotel Seme Beach and my visit at the Grace Stay Shelter was the highlight of the whole trip. This trip also taught me some lessons, that first of all when you get opportunities like this in life never let it go in fact take it and use it in a positive way that will benefit you and many others. I’m grateful to Brussels Airline, Hotel Seme Beach, Richard, Jocelyne and so many others for this wonderful experience and would definitely love to have this opportunity again.