Fail Forward Story
Achieving Success after failures to offer trainings
It is rare to get out of bed on a July morning to the melody of birds in Kumbo town of North West Cameroon because this is the middle of the rainy season. This exceptional weather was indicative that any human outdoor activity could successfully take place without rain. So was Green Care Association (GCA) staff ready for a trip to the remote village of Kov Vifem to train bee farmers. A four wheel truck has been hired with material and equipment for training put in place for the journey. After confirming the check list GCA staff took off for Kov Vifem by 8 am with the intension of arriving its destination by 9 am, good and agreed time for the training to begin. In about 30 minutes’ drive, the driver all of a sudden shouted ‘waaaaah’ to the total surprise of everyone. When we wondered aloud what has happened he simply told the team he has forgotten official documents of the car, a situation which meant we could not continue. So we then returned to collect the documents, and by the time that was done it was already past 9 am. Once we realized the lateness the driver was very guilty and worried as he kept wondering aloud when we shall arrive. The rush was not for long because we took an alternative shorter road leading to the village. We could not drive because the truck got stuck in mud. All efforts to sail through the mud were futile. We soon realized it was more than two hours in mud. At one point we had to abandon the car in the mud to return home. The bee farmers at Kov Vifem were calling our mobile phones every minute to find out reasons for delay. After some time, we had to call and reluctantly tell the farmers our sad story that we were not able to reach because of bad roads. This was a very big shame on our part and an assumption of irresponsibility on the part of Green Care Association.
Having registered this failure we immediately rescheduled a different training to take place in a weeks’ time. When all planning was done and we again took off in good time. When we got to Kov Vifem, no farmer villager ready for the training. After waiting for several hours, we decided to Kumbo. We were all dejected for failing the second time. It was on our return trip that a GCA team member suggested that we should give the training to farmers in a different village. We unanimously agreed to take training to Gwarkang, a village in another location. A date for the training was set exactly two weeks after the failed programs at Kov Vifem. This time around we went without hitches. When we arrived Gwarkang, the leader of the bee farmers instructed us to officially pay a short visit to the traditional ruler (Fon). At the Fon’s palace, he was very happy and imparted his royal blessings on us. During the training, the Fon also gave us palm wine and delicious lunch. After the training of twenty bee farmers at Gwarkang, one of us was decorated as a notable (Shey) in continuing appreciation of the training. It turned out that the training was the very first of its kind in the village. We donated some modern hives to the farmers after coordinating elections of a committee to promote apiculture. Barely three weeks after the training, the committee leader called GCA to announce that four of the hives we colonized by bees and in two months the colonized hives had increased to seven.
This became our motivation and as if not enough a delegation was again sent from the Fon’s palace at Gwarkang to come and appreciate GCA. A complete contrary to the troubles we had had in the former village of Kov Vifem. In a short time the village was transformed positively as villagers could now improve their lives with income from bee farming. One Mr. Lukong who was part of the delegation from the palace brought us two live chickens and palm wine. He happily declared to GCA ‘…I now understand that bees are there waiting for me to make honey and money and am here lazily waiting and complaining poverty, what a challenge…’ Thanks to funds from our donors we were able to change lives so fast and now remain convinced at GCA to keep on pushing on each time we have a disappointment.