Marie Pascale Affana: Giving back to Dominica is the least I can do
A focused, determined, multi-talented young woman, who Dominica has embraced as one of its own, is committed to giving back to church, community, and country for as long as this is where she calls home.
Marie Pascale Affana from Cameroon, West Africa, came to Dominica in 2009 to pursue a degree at the All Saints University School of Medicine. She successfully completed her studies and is now a doctor of physiology and employed as a lecturer in the same subject.
Because she loves teaching, saying 'yes' to the job offer from All Saints was a no-brainer. However, Affana shared with The Sun that there was something else that made her stay.
"Being a Catholic Christian I firmly believe that we all have a mission," she said. "I pray a lot to understand what my next step will be, I listen to the Holy Spirit and I feel that God has directed me to stay in Dominica for my mission."
During her stint as a student, Marie got a better understanding of the country's residents.
"The people are generally very honest, kind, and look out for others. I remember the first time we went grocery shopping we forgot some items on a bus. The driver came back to our place to give us those items," Marie said. "We were so surprised."
She made sure to engage herself in the community and give of her time and talent, to have a deeper appreciation of life in Dominica.
"I am involved in church ministry, youth groups, and choirs. I am also the Director of the Sixth Form Sisserou Singers," she said.
Marie enjoys experiencing Dominica's culture as it is reminiscent of her Cameroonian heritage.
"Dominica is so rich with culture and I like the fact that culture is not too far from what I know back home," Affana said. "When you come here you see how the culture which has left the continent has been integrated and it is so beautiful to see."
Online information about Dominica was difficult to find while researching back in 2009. Marie revealed that one of the biggest adjustments, of moving here was the lifestyle.
"I would say it is closer to the western world and the diet consisting of a lot of meat and pies, whereas I am accustomed to more fish and ground provision," she said.
Another adaptation was leaving a large population of over fifteen million (at the time) and coming to a population of 70,000.
"The fact is many people know you. There is a lot of crossing in circles. It was different in a good way where most people would look out for you," Affana stated. Dominica is famous for its natural beauty and terrain, which Marie came to realize is a source of pride for the people.
"Of course, the landscape of the country. Cameroon has mountains and all that but Dominica, you have special mountains and a lot of activities are hiking," she said.
In her 13 years living in Dominica and making many good friends who have welcomed her into their families, Affana's impression of Dominica has changed for the better.
"It has been a very beautiful experience when you're in a place for all that time," she said. If you don't like the place you really wouldn't stay."
Her plan is to continue giving back to the country until she feels she has completed her work here.
"I will always be grateful for the fact that Dominica gave a lot to me and I feel giving back to Dominica is the least I can do. I want to keep pushing with the youth ministry at church," she said. "I am planning to push for a music education programme in my church that is going to launch this summer."
This vocal powerhouse, known for her hit songs 'My Baby Oh,' 'Bucket list', and 'African Prince', has also collaborated with the local Kompas band Xtasy and says music continues to be a strong part of her future and she only sees herself growing as a recording artiste.
-By Andrea Louis