HIC Spotlight: Sylvia Sewong

In the midst of the Himalayan Institute Cameroon’s major humanitarian initiatives, the remarkable stories of those responsible often go unreported. This new section of the blog seeks to showcase the diverse range of backgrounds, talents, obstacles, and triumphs represented in our local staff and contacts.

Sylvia Sewong is employed as the prep cook at the HIC. She’s twenty-five years old, unmarried, and the daughter of a minister. When I first met Sylvia, she introduced herself as “the world famous dancer.”

Sylvia grew up with her four siblings in Kumbo’s Squares district. In 1999, partway through her education, Sylvia’s father fell very ill and was unable provide for the family. Sylvia dropped out of high school to work on traditional embroideries for the market.

In summer 2007, before the HIC established its community center, Sylvia worked in the guesthouse where the first members of our team were staying. It was there that she made her first connection with the Institute.

She said, “When I was working in the guest house, they were so happy and so welcoming to me. I saw that, as the Institute is welcoming everybody, everyone is also welcoming the Institute. If you join the Institute your future will be bright.”

Since her hiring in October, Sylvia has been able to do more for her six-year-old daughter, Laeticia.

“My family’s life has changed in many ways,” She said. “At the end of the month if my mother says she doesn’t have anything to pay the electricity or water bill, I take care of her. My child is now six, and there’s nothing that she’s lacking. She’s having all the school fees, all the textbooks, and I’m seeing that life with the Institute will help everybody. Our whole family can enjoy it.”

Sylvia recognizes there are still problems in Kumbo – she cites the unreliability of the Kumbo Water Authority as the most urgent – but she is optimistic about the future. This is perhaps most evident in the name she gave to her daughter. Laeticia, in Latin, means “joy”.