Andrew Nelson (BioChem’09) and Leah Feazel (EPOBio, MCDBio’05) were married in Cameroon last summer surrounded by people they had only known for a few weeks.
But their connection to the West African nation and its people began long before they boarded a plane. As a student, Andrew had befriended Cameroon native and philosophy professor Ajume Wingo. When Ajume invited the couple to visit Kumbo, Cameroon, they began proposing ways they could help out the nation. The result? They founded the nonprofit organization Developing Opportunities for Orphans and Residents of Cameroon, or DOORs.
Last spring, the trio decided to collect bicycles and computers to repair in America and sell in Cameroon, a culturally diverse nation with more than 200 spoken languages and scenery that ranges from savannahs to rainforests and beaches. The fundraiser was a success. They collected 86 bikes and 90 computers. However, it was difficult and costly to ship the products and get them through the country’s customs.
After the couple landed in Cameroon for a two-month stay, they switched their focus to education. The two spent a lot of time with high school students learning about the education system in Cameroon and how it differed from that of America.
It became obvious that most students were not receiving a proper education because many needed to work to help for their families or did not have the funds to attend a university. Andrew and Leah chose to sponsor four students with scholarships to make college a reality for them.
“It was a motivating focus,” Leah says. “There are really bright students in Cameroon.”
The organization hopes to raise enough money to send more students to college after the initial four. Andrew says they want to ensure a steady stream of students goes to university.
“It is wonderful to see two young graduates of CU look at the world beyond the West,” Ajume says. “Traveling to my home of Cameroon gave them an opportunity for self-exploration, and DOORs gave them the opportunity to empathize with humanity beyond their own borders.”
Andrew and Leah received their master’s degrees in environmental science and engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden. They plan to expand DOORs into environmental aspects such as water quality, health and nutrition, agriculture and sanitation. Down the road they may join with nonprofit groups focusing on other countries.
“There is definitely enough need in the world,” Andrew says.