It was with mixed feelings that we ventured down into the middle of the town of Bamenda during our trip to Cameroon this year. Bamenda has always been our ‘home away from home’ since we starting our partnership with SHUMAS, but we haven’t been able to go there since 2017 because the war has made it too dangerous for foreign visitors. Our plan was to visit some of the women on the Economic Empowerment for Education project, but we were quickly informed that tensions in the town were running high that weekend and our very obvious non-African faces meant that we could make the situation worse, and the women we were hoping to visit, could be vulnerable to attack. So, instead of visiting the women at their places of work to hear their stories, they jumped into our car for a very quick chat – and no photos!
They were so inspiring! All had had their lives completely up-ended by the war – they had been homeless, penniless and hopeless – and all had between 2 and 9 children to support. Every one of the women said how valuable the business training from SHUMAS had been and each were making a real success of their new businesses. They were managing to keep their families fed, pay their rent and instalments on their children’s school fees and each of the women were starting to expand their businesses. We are in awe of these brave and capable women, Edwina, Joy, Katherine, Yvette, Kindness and Brenda, who are not only surviving, but blossoming in the most difficult of circumstances.
It was also a great pleasure to meet with Yvonne and her nine children – who featured in our Special Appeal this Christmas, and are pictured above. They are all back to good health and doing really well as a result of this project. All of the children (except the triplets) are really enjoying being at school and are doing well – and Yvonne is making a success of her dressmaking business while her mum helps to look after the babies. It was so heartwarming to see how so many lives can be saved and totally transformed for the cost of a tankful of petrol in the UK!!