It has always been a problem for the poorest people in Cameroon to be able to earn sufficient money to send their children to school – and during the past seven years of war this situation has got worse and worse. The majority of the 3000+ anglophones who have been killed in the conflict are men, leaving the women to care for the children, the elderly and the disabled in their families, as well as to earn sufficient money to be able to feed and clothe their children and to send them to one of the schools that are now functioning again and may be willing to take them. Many of these family groups have become displaced – their homes and farmlands, belongings and identity papers, having been destroyed in the on-going violence. School aged children have been forced to become child soldiers or prostitutes: many have suffered rape and abuse as a weapon of war and there are now large numbers of teenage single mothers whose lives have been blighted.
Our partner, SHUMAS, has had to adapt its usual programme of projects in order to address these problems in the most effective way possible, delivering humanitarian aid and support for restarting livelihoods – and we have been very happy to support them in this with whatever funds we have been able to raise. (Please see our other posts about the Humanitarian Aid project and Community Schools project in Fungom, as well as the project to provide livelihood training for adolescent school drop-outs).
Our latest project will be based in three main cities in the anglophone regions, Bamenda, Buea and Kumbo, where displaced families have fled to avoid violence. It will focus on improving access to education for 300 children by providing livelihood assistance, in the form of business grants, for their mothers. The women will be trained in business management and given start-up grants to get their businesses underway. These businesses should bring in sufficient money to enable the mothers to send their children to school. The beneficiaries will be monitored and supported throughout the project and their children will be monitored at school to ensure they are thriving there. There will also be psychosocial support for all the participants and training in the prevention of the spread of COVID and cholera. The small businesses that are likely to be supported include hairdressing, street food, chicken rearing/selling, market trading etc. We feel that this is a very positive way of re-establishing self esteem as well as providing essential income for these desperate families.