As a 7-year-old barefoot schoolboy in the small African village of Anong, Cameroon, Moses E. M. Timah had never thought much about the world outside of his village. From a backpack made from palm leaves, his journey has brought him to a lifetime of service in South America and the United States. Timah has spent his adult life helping communities that are impoverished. He has been a tireless worker in educating people about health care issues, including teaching nutrition and breast-feeding to pre- and post-natal women in Guyana and instructing people about hypertension and diabetes in Cairo, Illinois.
Timah was born in Cameroon, Africa, where resources were so limited that everyday life was a struggle to survive. As a teenager, a Peace Corps Volunteer who he knew only as “a black woman” from ‘mukala’ or ‘white man’s land’ befriended him. She brought him to the U.S. and made sure that he was educated through his college years. Timah’s sense of obligation to his mother’s early teachings inspired him to join the Peace Corps, this time as an American citizen serving in Guyana, South America.
While a Peace Corps volunteer in Guyana, Timah established a program of rotating health talks aimed at increasing health care knowledge of breast-feeding, HIV/AIDS, STDs awareness, personal hygiene, contraceptives, and good nutrition. Along with others, he identified cases of malnourished babies and antenatal mothers and with the assistance of Food for Peace, identified needy families. He visited homes, stressing the need for good health, hygiene and sanitation.
During Timah’s internship as an AmeriCorps member with the Southernmost Illinois Delta Empowerment Zone near Cairo, Illinois, he attacked the problem of joblessness, drugs, alcohol, STDs and the fact that teens have no late night meeting places by speaking words of encouragement to schools, church youth groups and area health and entrepreneur camps. He tells youngsters about his struggles as a young boy, how he overcame those struggles and encourages them to volunteer.
Besides serving as a resource and mentor for Cairo and area youth, Timah also devoted his time to forming a diabetes support group for low-income minority individuals, and started a walking and exercise program to promote long-term weight loss and control of obesity within the black community. These programs will continue even after Timah leaves Cairo and the surrounding communities.
Timah has committed two years of service in Peace Corps and one in AmeriCorps. He frequently worked many hours over those required. His philosophy is, “In giving, we achieve a greater good for ourselves.”