American DV Lottery: Source of hope for many in restive Bamenda

By Bakah Derick 

Since October 5, 2022 when the  United States State Department began accepting online registrations for the Fiscal Year 2024 Diversity Visa (DV) lottery, a good number of service providers have emerged in Bamenda assisting the many who want to take part in the program. 
The service providers are either those offering documentation and photography services or individuals starting it as a temporal service during the program validity period. 

"It is something I do yearly. Each time the DV Lottery program is opened I incorporate that here in my photography studio to facilitate the process for those who want to play. I have a standard photography studio with regular internet and with my experience, it is easy for me." Nfor Nyah tells www.hilltopvoices.com as he prepares to snap a passport size picture for a candidate in his Mirror Entertainment studios in Ghana Street Nkwen. 
"Schools are just resuming and the documentation is not yet busy so I decided to add the American DV Lottery program to my business for this one month period that it will last. It is my third year to do this and I have gained some experience that now allows me to take pictures play and receive confirmation letters immediately." Carine Dzekashu running a documentation at the mile 3 neighbourhood in Nkwen said. 


The many service providers assisting those taking part in the program say they have  witnessed an increase in the number of people interested in the DV Lottery program this year compared to the previous years. 


At a Photo studios at mile two Nkwen, an entire family of six is waiting to participate in the program. They are from Bafut Mezam Division. They have been in Bamenda for the past three years after escaping from their home as a result of the ongoing armed conflict in the region . 
"It is not too easy here brother. We left home because of this war and have been managing but I think that we can have a better life in the America. We are only trying with the hope that we can win like many others who have won.  It is my third time of playing. I played alone at first and then decided to play as a family for last year and this year." the family head  Peter as he wish to be called said. 


These American DV Lottery program service providers charge a fee. While a majority charge between 1500 to 2500 francs, others charge up to 5000 whille some are negotiable. 


"I charge 2000 francs per person because they have to pay for the passport size which i take in the studio and foe those who come like a family, i charge 2000 for the first person and then 1500 for the rest of the family members.. I don't accept a picture from elsewhere because sometimes people don't respect the dimensions and that disturbs me when I have to resize." Nfor said. 

"I will be spending almost more than 15000 francs for this exercise. That is much considering that I am a local business man though with some level of education and my wife is a private primary school teacher.  It is a huge sacrifice and a game but I think it is necessary." Peter added 


The six service providers we visited say they receive not less than 10 persons a day since the program started and they hope more will come towards the closing date in November. According to them, this is as a result of the ongoing armed conflict and many want to not only leave the region but the country entirely. 
With internet and electricity being a regular challenge in the city, some of acquired alternative sources like rechargeable internet sources and generators. 


"I have many internet sources and a generator to make sure I don't disappoint anyone at anytime. I see many people who come here with lots of stories and who seem to be living in different conditions and my wish for them is that they should make it as many as possible." Dzekashu said. 


The American DV Lottery program is for people from countries with low immigration rates to the United States to enter for a chance to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa. 

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