A Smooth Ride

By Rachel Greco

Nestled among the hills of the northwest region of Cameroon is the town of Bamenda, where the Cameroon Association for Bible Translation and Literacy (CABTAL) organizes workshops to facilitate the work of Bible translation for 12 language groups. 

Until recently, the center in Bamenda had difficulty running projects because at times the town had power for only about two hours a day! “And lately, we didn’t have any power at all,” Joseph Mouicho, CABTAL’s regional coordinator for the Greater West region, said. This made working on translation projects, which require internet access, difficult. 

Internet access plus power equals enhanced productivity. So the more JAARS and its partners can support that infrastructure, helping workers get reliable internet service and power, the more the people can continue working on Bible translation and language development.

Wayne Ferris, Corey Wenger, and Jeremy Maller—all part of SIL’s* Field Systems team—worked with the language technology and IT staff at CABTAL to land on the right solution. 

Communication with anyone overseas can be difficult, but civil unrest in Cameroon added another layer of complexity to the team’s efforts. The team needed further definition and consensus about the goals of the project, but the civil unrest complicated travel for the CABTAL staff who needed to coordinate some details at the Bamenda Center. 

Eventually, though, the team in the U.S. and the staff in Bamenda landed on a solar power system as the best solution, and the Field Systems team connected them with Jude, a local vendor. “Once that happened,” Corey said, “they were able to get a lot of things done.” They also consulted with Jude about the exact specifications, and the team decided to buy lithium batteries which are more durable than the cheaper lead-acid type.

The new solar panels on the roof of the center in Bamenda.

With people like you giving to JAARS Technology Solutions, we were able to pay for this new solar power system that connects the main classroom and the IT room with solar power. Jude and his business installed the panels on the roof of the center in Bamenda. The value of Jude—a highly qualified local vendor—can’t be overstated: “Not only does it mean that the work can be done there and decreases the cost of the project,” Jeremy explained, “but if anything were to go wrong in the future, they have someone locally who knows the system and who installed it. That’s very valuable.” 

Not long after the solar power system was installed, a translation-consultant training course was held at Bamenda. The new system made all the difference. “Since this project was implemented,” Joseph said, “[our] consultant-in-training workshop [has] had a smooth ride! Our machines have been connected, our laptops have been connected, our projectors have been connected, and we’ve had great success because of the solar panels.” 

Due to the performance of the new solar power system, the internet stayed on during the training, and the classroom, including the projector, was functional all day. 

Joseph said, “We just want to say ‘thank you’ to JAARS for having this [project] and thinking about us in this way. From the bottom of our hearts, we want to say, ‘Thank you and may God bless you abundantly!’” 

Please pray that God uses this new power system to enable the 12 language groups working out of Bamenda to finish their translations soon. 

*A partner organization of JAARS