March 14, 2011
Here at Rollins, being a global citizen can be as simple as donating your old sneakers. At least, that’s how it seemed to Ines Teuma (Class of 2010). After her 2007 season on the Rollins women’s basketball team, Teuma noticed, “there were gently used basketball shoes that were lying on the floor of the locker room; there were even some in the garbage bin.”
It would have been easy to just leave them there, but Teuma had a better idea. She gathered the shoes and sent them to the youth in her home country of Cameroon. This initiative, now called Tars Crossover, provided 87 pairs of shoes in 2007 and grew to provide 300 pairs in 2009. During this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, Tars Crossover collected an additional 30 usable pairs.
“Our goal,” Teuma said, “is to provide sporting materials and education supplies to kids who cannot afford them. There is no factory for sneakers in Cameroon, so we send them shoes that are no longer being used here and buy the school supplies over there.” Perfectly good shoes that would have otherwise gone to waste are now providing joy for hundreds of Cameroonian youth.
Tars Crossover would not have been born without all the motivational people who have helped Teuma along the way. She’s found support in over 15 campus offices and many faculty and staff at Rollins. “I started playing basketball when I was 13,” she said. “I was already very tall and my P.E. coach literally dragged me to his basketball school.” The skills she learned through years of dedication and practice were enough to impress the coach of the Rollins basketball team, who offered Teuma a full scholarship to Rollins. As a Rollins undergraduate, Teuma studied biology and then was accepted at Ross University School of Medicine where she’s pursuing her dream of receiving a medical degree.
While Tars Crossover began with a goal to collect shoes, the initiative has grown through the years and now disperses computers, bikes, educational games, musical instruments, first aid kits and socks.
The nonprofit is also looking into helping Cameroon’s rural population and local orphanages with agricultural and medical aid. “Agriculture in Cameroon is not industrialized. People have a lot of land, but the yield is not that great due to lack of technological support.”
From June 2010 to January 2011, Teuma held an internship in the Department of Agricultural Sciences at Disney. “I learned so much about agriculture,” she said. “How to manage pests, how to get a significant yield in small areas, and how hydroponic methods shorten the time to grow crops, make harvesting easier, and provide food ready for the market.”
While Teuma admits that she didn't master all of these techniques, she made some invaluable contacts with colleagues who are willing to come to Cameroon and help out the farmers. “I was introduced to new possibilities and advancements that will help Cameroonians farmers like my grandma.”
From the Rollins basketball team to the youth of an African country, “the world is becoming a planetary village because of the ways we connect. Like a small community, what happens on one side will affect the other,” Teuma shared. “I know that we can easily reach out as the global citizens and responsible leaders Rollins teaches us to be.”
By Michael Barrett (Class of 2013)
Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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