During our trustees’ visit to Cameroon in November 2019, we saw at first hand some of the appalling situations of the anglophone Internally Displaced People (IDPs), thousands of whom had fled their homes, farms and businesses in the NW and SW regions in order to escape the violence of the on-going conflict. We decided to try to raise sufficient funds to provide emergency relief to 1000 of them. It was a very tall order and we wondered if we had been too ambitious. We needed to raise just over £80,000 as quickly as possible – so we set about launching a Special Appeal in December. We were amazed and delighted when supporters from Clymac, Lead Forensics and AidCamps International provided us with sufficient funds to allow us to make a successful bid for matched funding from a charitable Foundation – and by the beginning of March, we had reached our target and the emergency relief package was set in motion.
It was a very tricky and delicate situation for our partner, SHUMAS, to negotiate, but they really have managed to work miracles. Mattresses, mosquito nets, water and sanitation kits, water purification systems, first aid kits and delivery kits have all been taken to communities in the hard-to-reach jungle and bush areas where IDPs have fled for safety.
It has been a monumental task involving a network of volunteers carrying much of the equipment on their heads for miles. There has been training for traditional birthing attendants and first aiders as well as training in water purification, sanitation and hygiene practices. Adolescent girls and women have been trained in the production of re-useable sanitary pads and have received education about Gender Based Violence and information on how they can get help. All the IDPs have received counselling on social cohesion and peace-building. Groups of women farmers have been re-trained in poultry rearing and have been given start-up materials for new businesses so that livelihoods can be re-established for their families.
Living conditions in these communities have been dire for the past three years: many of the IDPs are malnourished and very vulnerable to malaria, cholera and typhoid. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, things are gradually improving for them and there is some hope for the future.