Since 2016, Bui Division in the NW Region has been particularly hard hit by violence of the Anglophone crisis. This is a Division where, over the years, Building Schools for Africa and SHUMAS have been extremely effective in improving both access to education and the health status of thousands of children by building more than 30 schools, seven health centres and numerous water supplies. However, every single formal school in Bui has now been closed for almost four years, many health centres have stopped functioning and the out-of-school children have been exposed to the violence, exploitation, trauma, sexual abuse and malnutrition that comes with war.
We firmly believe that all children should have access to education, and we are doing all we can to get the Internally Displaced (IDP) children back into school so that they are equipped to help to build the future of Cameroon. We are delighted that we are now able to fund the setting up of two pop-up community schools in the hard-to-reach bush communities of Nkah and Nkuu, where many IDPs have fled for safety from the violence. These will provide safe spaces and an opportunity for 400 children to re-start their education and receive psycho-social support from specially trained and appointed teachers. The project will also include the provision of appropriate teaching/learning materials and some equipment so that they children can play sport as well. It has not been an easy process, but one that has required a great deal of negotiation with both the Government and the Non-State Armed Groups to get them to agree to this proposal. With luck it will mark the start of many such projects which will bring hope for the future to the Anglophone people of Cameroon.
Of course, COVID-19 has now hit the African continent and Cameroon is amongst the most badly affected countries, so this project includes instruction for the children and teachers on the ways of preventing the spread of the virus in these extremely vulnerable communities, as well as hand-washing stations, cleaning rotas and the provision of face masks.
We are so pleased that both our partner in Cameroon, SHUMAS, and our supporters have been quick to respond to the pandemic and are supporting our efforts to get children back into places of safety and back to education. Our grateful thanks to everyone involved.