8.3.14

Living the Legacy, Yonga Nelly Shella Inspires Change for girls empowerment




“Serving humanity is the best work of life and regardless what profession permits us to be of service to others, this always gives so much gratification” says Tchaptcheut Yonga Nelly Shella, coordinator for Rural Womendevelopment Center (RUWDEC), and 2013 Africa Regional Commonwealth Youth Workers Award winner.

Born in October 1987, Nelly Shella says growing up never would she have imagined advocating for women issues would become a course she strongly stands for so passionately. Inspired and motivated by her mum’s continues zeal and desire in making women and girls gain empowerment, Nelly tells how this gradually made her gained interest working on women’s issues. – being a woman herself, living and
witnessing some of the social injustice faced by women and girls in her community.

Nelly holds a BSc in Banking and Finance, University of Buea, Cameroon, and a diploma certificate in Small Microenterprise & development, from Casey Institute, University New Hamsphere, USA. She is a trained community mobilizer and microfinance entrepreneur, with particular interest in women’s economic empowerment and youth development.

Her commitment and contributions in the lives of women, youths and other vulnerable groups for sustainable community development lend her 2 great recognitions; Award for one of the 28 most outstanding and promising young African Leaders in 2011 by the Moremi Initiative,
Accra - Ghana and winner of the 2013 Africa Regional Commonwealth Youth Workers Award.

In her dreams, she says, ‘I see a world where women and youths have equal rights and opportunities; a world where investing in women and girls lives is part of a national development agenda.”

In 2010, after the death of her mum, founder of Rural Women Development Center (RUWDEC), a grassroots organisation which seeks to promote women and youth empowerment, community health development and natural resource management, Nelly recollects, “I took up the challenge as the coordinator, embracing the responsibilities and keeping her legacy alive”.

“All which has ultimately refined my career path”. She adds
“My mum was the source of my inspiration.  Her dedication and commitment for gender justice, a cause she stood so strongly for was exemplary and admirable” she recounts with emotion.

Nelly’s dynamism and unique skills doesn’t only limit around her community but throughout the region. With her help and professional knowledge in accounting and finance management, she created opportunities that enforce gender inclusion as well as bringing women voice to the socio-economic issues of the country. 

Today, she is proud to have increased some 100 rural women's access to micro-credit through collateral free loans and also helped enhanced their literacy on small business management. Besides, her effective microcredits program for women, Nelly is also a strong advocate for ecofriendly energy. Four years ago, she led a solar energy project which aimed at training mothers in becoming solar engineers. 

The project which gave some two grassroots mothers scholarship opportunities to be trained on solar energy at Barefoot College Tilonia India for six months. The solar project that lasted for two years brought electricity to some 98households, benefiting over 500 people – particularly those in Munyange village, one of the many rural Communities in southwest of Cameroon.  Till date, these communities in the southwest region still benefits from these mothers expertise.

Nelly’s works however doesn’t only limit around micro credits, financial literacy and entrepreneurism, she also works with youth and young people living with HIV & AIDS on community empowerment programs.

In mid-2013, under her leadership and initiative, she launched the D’Girls Initiative for girls between the ages of 10 - 25. A grassroots peer-to-peer mentorship program for adolescents to gain inspiration and life skills empowerment to combat poverty, breaking gender barriers, support their families and participate in community growth programs. This initiative has reached out so far to 120 young girls in her community, giving them an incredible opportunity to harness their leadership skills and serve their community.

Ciara, a trainee says, “D' Girls is the best thing that can happen to someone at the start of a career, independence, building proficiency etc....”

social Links to RWUDEC RUWDEC on Facebook   Twitter

  The 8th edition of #knowherstory publication coincides with the celebration of the 2014 International Day of Women Celebration, March 08.

9.2.14

SHOCKING EXPERIENCE AT A HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING


Being an activist, one of the safest places you could think of being at and express your views without fear or shame is at a human rights meeting. But that is not the case as I have come to realize.

Last Dec, 2013, a meeting was held in Buea, Cameroon, to commemorate the international human rights day. Focus were on “problems and challenges faced by activists and NGO'S” both at a personal and professional level in addressing illegal land crabbing, while proposing new strategies and suggestions to help deal with the violation of people’s and indigenous land owners rights.

On that faithful day, Dec 09, 2013, I had to take over my colleague and continue with the second segment of the meeting. She had briefed me on what was discussed prior to my coming and I had to talk about the dress code law that had been implemented by the state since she had not gotten the chance to raise up the issue. And there was no way we could have let the meeting pass without us being there to represent the biggest violation of women’s rights at the time which involved dress code policy and policing. An act which WFAC strongly criticizes and condemns; for a dress code policing gives rooms for police officers and other citizens to sexually harass girls, as well as verbally, emotionally and physically torture them.

When I arrived the meeting hall, first thing I discovered was that the place was filled mostly with men, all demonstrating such a huge interest towards protecting indigenous peoples’ land rights. Everyone was so passionate about contributing towards ending illegal land grabbing. Including, the chairperson for the meeting, who happened to be the Regional Coordinator for the National Human Rights Commission, also spoke so passionately about how he hates people being humiliated and robbed off their rights, and how he could fight tirelessly and endlessly to not let another person violate the rights of another.

Amazingly, when I brought up women’s rights; the case of street harassment and extortion of money under the pretext of implementing the dress code law; the atmosphere immediately turned into a tensed one. The same activists who claimed to be fighting for human rights changed their positions to being against. Almost all the men present in the room turned against me, speaking very loudly and disorderly, referring to views I could hardly expatiate on as ignorant, misleading and nonsensical.

It was my first time to be faced with such insanity. I am not sure I handled that situation very well. I tried to composed myself, but deep inside me I was bubbling with anxiety and could hardly talk with ease. At some point, I asked them how they expect to understand my point if they are not willing to give me the opportunity to express my views.

The boss then ordered everyone to give me the floor. As soon as I started talking, I got the same reaction which was an unwillingness to even listen or understand my views. I pushed forward, focusing on those that were close to hear me. Thank goodness everyone eventually joined in the discussion. I brought up the issue of street harassment; police street harassment and the overall problem with the dress code law/policing. My aim was to make them aware of issues facing young girls and women, like street/sexual harassment, police street/sexual harassment, Police street/sexual harassment, public torture, bribery and corruption, all under the pretext of implementing the dress code law. Also the fact that street/sexual harassment and violent acts such as rape do not happen because of how a woman is dressed.

For instance, I pointed out my friend had been harassed for dressing a way they considered indecent with the majority of the people seeing nothing wrong with her dressing. And to prove how confused those people [police] are when it comes to this. I shared with them an experience and observation, how I met some groups of police and they had no problem with me wearing a certain dress until I pointed out I was harassed because of my dressing. The same officer who had said I was decently dressed, said “maybe it is because of this”; pointing to my chest. Added to that, the officer proudly spoke about how they beat up indecently dressed individuals brought to their office.

In spite of all the examples, on how police officers now have the excuse or motives to justify their violent act towards an individual girls and women; how the dress code policing is another controlling agenda over women’s body, it was evident that the men present at the meeting, still couldn’t get my point. Instead, they went to tell me how the police officer who had no problem with my dressing likes me. Then, they started by scrutinizing my dressing which they considered decent. I was then asked why I was not indecently dressed and concluded I really know how to dress; wearing a long skirt and long sleeves top. Some even said how my ideas are misleading and not African.

Their conclusion was we do not dress in a way they considered indecent. Since my colleague had been detained and I had talked about both our experiences it was concluded it was an attempt by us to tease the police because we dress decently. They spoke as though they live with us to know and decide what we wear all the time. These brought up a whole new topic. It was said we “women” can plan for harassment to occur so that we can use it to sabotage them, [men]. Though it’s all known that policemen in our locality are the No1 groups of people to sexually harass and stalk women, especially those we are around “long street”, “Clark’s Quarter” & “Mutengene”. These guys will not stop catcalling and making sexual, obscene advances towards women. When I also told them police men are fun off touching a woman’s breast and other sexual body parts, they denied.

There was one human rights activist I was familiar with who seemed angry by my accusation and told me to never say something like that again. Interesting, the few women present at the meeting agree with me, some even said, they do not feel safe in the hands of police men because if you were put in their protection against rape, they will be the ones to turn around and rape you

Again, while we were discussing, some people were itchy to go and so they called for the attention of the boss. In order words, these activists meant that women’s issues are not human right issues and therefore not important.

It is sad that even those at the human rights office refuse to see women’s human rights and human rights. And it is things like these that contribute greatly in making Cameroon a backward country. Such attitudes and backward ideas retard development.

This piece is written by a guest contributor, member of WFAC, Ngwentah Berlyne. She writes about everything Feminism, Women's empowerment and Humanrights, from a young Cameroonian woman's perspective

20.1.14

Police Men and Street Harasment in Cameroon


Tuesday 26th is just one of the so many days that we have been street harassed by men.After having a tiring day of  doing what we are most passionate about and with all the exhaustion moving in the hot scotching sun,my friend and i could not go home because we had some unfinished business and badly needed to finish up with what we had planned to do on that day.

Around the Human Rights office,there were some two police men on the other side of the road,one standing and the other on a motor bike.I didn't pay much attention as they called for my friend's attention.What made me realize much more was going on was when my friend twisted her face in denial to respond to their call.I turned and looked at the two police men.My friend suggested i should not look at them and that we continue moving.

We didn't really know what to do or think at the moment because of the dress code policing that is going on.As we continued moving forward,the police man who was standing crossed to meet us while the other one on the bike continued moving forward on his bike so he could catch up with us.We never stopped moving when the police man following us starting talking.He spoke in french and told us he and his friend were new in Buea and do not really know the town that well.He said they would love to spend some time with us and asked for my friend's number.

Despite the fact that we showed no interest in continuing the discussion,the police man kept following us,persuading us to give our phone numbers while his friend across the road continued following us on his bike.My friend tactfully denied to give her number.The police man suddenly shifted his interest from my friend to me and said I'm the one he wants.I also tactfully denied to give my number by making excuses.We were in front of the health center when he said his friend on the bike could take us to Molyko since we said we lived far .

These men just did not want to leave us alone.It is just one of the several incidents where police men have been patrolling ,then shifted their attention from their jobs to harassing young women.Sometimes one is forced to be polite despite the fact that they loathe harassment and harassers because of their fear of being harmed.We are talking about police men that could physically abuse you then make excuses,lie you caused it or create some other motive,then get away with their crime.

It is a good thing we succeeded to manage that situation without things getting out of control.Not everyday one might be that lucky.Not every woman is that always lucky .


Join the campaign and post your story either on WFAC Facebook page or share online with the harshtag: #endpolicestreetharassment #dresscode

by Ngwentah Berlyn, WFAC 
   

7.12.13

TAKING A BOLD STEP TO SILENCE NO MORE



 “I have been dying in silence. I have tried to find ways to share my story but have found it hard to trust anyone”, said one young woman in a closed interview, on her experience with a boss who is a sexual abuser.  

Some years back, a young lady called Sheman (a name chosen for the purpose of this essay), was recruited at one of the most prestigious Law Firm here in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Where, she worked as an administrative assistant for one of the country’s top ranking attorney. By then Sheman was just 22 years old and had just had her Advance Levels Certificate (A/L) but couldn’t enroll into the university because her parents couldn’t afford to pay her fees.  

Sheman was raised in a devout Christian home. Growing up, she was taught that sex before marriage – is a sin. At 20, she was still a virgin and vowed never to engage in any act that would destroy her relationship with God. 

Her dreams have always been that of an innovator, creator and inventor. At home, school, wherever she was, everyone knew she never loves doing the easy things or ‘works considered for female’. At a very tender age, Sheman had begun challenging gender stereotypes – both at home and out of home.  

Passionate and zealous to further her educational career, Sheman needed to generate income. So, she began searching for a job and after several turn down, Sheman finally had her first job offered as an administrative assistant at the prestigious law firm.
When she was granted this opportunity, Sheman said: “I prayed and thank God for having heard my cry and answered my prayers.” 

But “little did I know”, she added: “While I thought it was God, it was the devil that stole my joy and happiness”.

In her own voice and words, Sheman says:

“Just 3 days after my recruitment – I remember sitting at my desk and typing. And directly opposite to where I sit is the door to my boss’ office. I recalled clearly all what happened that day. It was around 9am, on a certain Wednesday. Everywhere was quiet and cold. The weather was beautiful. Our office was clean and fresh too! I loved the serenity of that day. I knew all was well and that I was going to love my job.
But one thing I didn’t see was that – I was with the devil himself. 

That same day, my boss came in and on his way to his office, he stopped by my desk – vividly he looked through what I was typing and smiled. Then shake my chic with one of his right fingers.  When he did that, I thought and felt probably, he was just been nice, friendly or gentle. I also smiled back at the gesture. Then, continued to type once he left.  All was fun! I didn’t know what harassment or sexual advances meant…

Minutes after that incidence, he called; I abandoned all what I was doing and went into his office.

So humbly, I asked: “sir, you called. Is there anything I can do?”

Again, he just smiled, sitting there at his rolling arm-chair, steering at me to the face and tapping gently the table with his designer pen; while, I stood at the other end, opposite the table facing him – waiting to get his orders.

In there, I noticed I had suddenly developed ghost pimples all over my hands. Suddenly, started feeling scared. I was so scared! I don’t know where that frightful feeling came from.

At times, when I sit and reflect I ask myself whether it was because that was my first time working or was it the sight of his authority and power that made me feel so intimidated or were my other senses warning me against the job excitements?

While there, I couldn’t even look at him. All along, I spoke faced down, crossing my hands behind my back.
Still standing and him saying nothing, he left his seat, came real closed to me and pad me at the back. Then he asked: ‘how are you doing today?”

In a trembling voice, I responded: “I am fine Sir!”

Again he asked: “are you sure?”  “Sure you are fine!” he said while touching my breast, robbing his head on mine and telling me to ssssshhhhhh (that be silence)

Oh good God! That was my first time, I was having a man getting so intimate and closed to me. I felt so helpless and confused.

And that was the beginning of an unending act….

That was it! The beginning of my nightmare. Each day, each time, my boss calls for me into his office, I know it’s not just work. There are days I will leave home in a dress and return in a skirt and blouse or a different wear, simply because he got into a fight in the office and my buttons or zip went bad and he had to replace my dress… It continued for several months, until, one day, he called me to his office and offered me a gift and asked me to open it in his presence and try it on. I thought it was something like a bracelet, necklace…something basic. Behold they were underwears…some ‘G-strings’.  
When I opened it, and realized they were underwear. I told him, I can’t do such a thing in an office. It was weird! I gave him all the excuses, and how it was time consuming for me to try 12 panties. But he insisted and I also maintained my stance on No!
He kept insisting and then I just got up and told him: ‘you know what Sir…I am done!” then I said: “No No No No and No” several times while walking to the door.
That was the day; I made a decision – to finally leave. I dammed everything, the money which I wanted to save for my education. Inasmuch as it had not reached the amount I wanted. I told myself: “It’s enough!”

Normally, I was put on a payroll of 50 000 frs/ month for the 1st three months and to a subsequently increased to 150 000frs, but what happened was each time, I reject his sexual desire, my pay drops…at one point, he paid me 25 000frs.

Broken Silence finally

I have been dying in silence. I have tried to find ways to share my story but have found it hard to trust anyone. Until, recently when I decided to share my story for the first time in years on the press.

Having read through other peoples stories, many of whom have had worse experienced, some far more painful than mine. I took the old step to speak up

Even though my perpetrator is free and is still out there enjoying his life – and probably continuing in his malice acts on his female employees. I know one day, he will be brought to Justice. And I hope that my story inspires and empower many girls/women subjected to same situation to be strong and to find the strength to say No to any of such advances from employers. 

I used to think, if I say No, I may not meet my goal which is to save for my fees but I was wrong. It was just an illusion. The 8months spend at that firm was 8months of torture and misery. 

Today, I am a business woman, and I have a bachelor’s degree and hoping to pursuit my Masters and PhD. I didn’t sponsor myself through the petit saving from the firm. So, if I can. I strongly believe you too can!

In my prayers, I hope for that day, when men in authority who use their power to abuse women will be called to justice”.

 Seventh in the #KnowHerStory Series 
This story has been carefully investigated. Friends to the victim interviewed to confirmed the story. But for some reasons and also for Sheman's safety and security, she requested her name be kept anonymous as well as the name of the firm.
Unidentifying the perpetrator is not a decision by me but Sheman's. she asked me not to and that I respected. Hopefully, someday, she finally denounces the names of her perpetrator.

6.11.13

Shared Challenges - Empowering the Deaf in Cameroon

Mrs-Bibum-3
Sixth in the #KnowHerStory Series by Zoneziwoh

“I believe our biggest achievement is having our supporters believe in us and in what we are trying to do for deaf children and young deaf people in Cameroon.”
Mrs. Margaret Bibum, Head of Instruction, Buea School for the Deaf (BSD)

Interview

In this exlusive e-interview for the #KnowherStory series, I have the honour to share Mrs. Margaret Bibum's exceptional tale. In her own words she takes us all through her life journey – how she became what she is now: an educational mentor, as well as an advocate for deaf empowerment and promoter for equality for all.

Early Days - School for the Deaf in England

“I was born in England in 1949, which means I am now 63 years old!” This is how Mrs. Bibum started sharing her exceptional tale with me during our e-interview.
“I have one older sister. Both my parents are dead now. I became deaf at the age of 2 years as a result of measles. At the age of 6 years, I was sent to boarding school. Because my parents were devout Catholics they sent me to this school which was the only Catholic deaf school in England.”

Within a short time I settled down to school life. I enjoyed it for the most part. I took my Ordinary levels (O' Levels) and my Advance levels (A' Levels). I originally wanted to train as a librarian, but I was turned down by two universities because I was deaf (remember this was 45 years ago!).

My headmistress, Sister Barbara Walsh, talked to me about teaching. I remembered being shocked at the idea because I never thought I could become a teacher! I was accepted at Trinity and All Saints Colleges of Education (part of the University of Leeds) and trained for thee years as a teacher. After I graduated I went back to my old school and took a three year in-service training programme to become a qualified teacher of the deaf.

I later married my husband who had also been educated at the same school for the deaf as me! He had travelled from Cameroon to England for his secondary education because at that time there was no school for the deaf anywhere in Cameroon!"

In the USA - Deafpride

"Four years after we married, we moved to the USA where my husband and I attended Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. I got my M.A. in Rehabilitation Counselling and then went to work for an organisation called Deafpride in Washington D.C.

Deafpride had many programmes including health access, community access and sign language interpreter training. The organisation also worked with local and federal government to improve services for deaf people. At Deafpride, I learnt many skills which are helping me today. I spent 11 years there.

I began as a Patient Advocate working with low−income deaf women in Washington D.C., helping them to access the health care system. I eventually became Deputy Director of Deafpride. I had for my supervisor and mentor a wonderful woman, Ann Champ−Wilson, who was Executive Director and Co−founder of Deafpride. She had a deaf son which led her to work with deaf people."
While there, Mrs. Bibum adds:
“My husband always planned to return to Cameroon. I followed him here to Cameroon!”
In Cameroon - The Buea School for the Deaf
Mrs-Bibum-Margaret“We were co-founders with two other people of an NGO called the Cameroon Deaf Empowerment Organisation (CDEO). However, after some time, we both felt the need to establish our own school for the deaf where we could establish our educational philosophy.

My husband is the Director of the Buea School for the Deaf (BSD) while I am Head of Instruction. He is responsible for the fundraising, the building programme, public networking, publicity, etc. I am responsible for the teaching side of the school.
The goal of the school basically is to give deaf children the opportunity of a good education. We have nursery, primary, secondary, technical, and vocational programmes.
In the primary section, we follow the National Curriculum and Class 6 pupils take the First School Leaving Certificate (FSLC). We recently scored 100% in the recent examination. Likewise, in the secondary section we follow the National Curriculum that ends in Form 5 where the students write the GCE O’ Levels. We sent our first batch this year and sadly none of our students made it through four papers.

For the Technical and Vocational students we offer life skills training – for example, carpentry, building, hairdressing, and tailoring. We are hoping that the practical classes will start this year after the building of workshops.

Not only do we give our children education in the classroom, but we give them skills that will enable them to stand as confident deaf young people able to articulate their thoughts and emotions. We try to expand their world view and give them opportunities to learn about the world around them.

I feel sad to see deaf adults who have never had the opportunity of going to school – their world is truly limited because of communication access. They cannot hear speech and do not have reading and writing skills that help to compensate for the lack of hearing. They have very limited understanding of the world around them and are vulnerable to people who wish to exploit them."

Teacher Training

Your employees (the teachers), do they undertake trainings in pedagogy plus special training in sign language? Or when they are employed, does BSD train them?
"Most of our teachers are trained either in the Government Teacher Training College (GTTC) or are university graduates. But for Nursery and Primary Class 1 and 2, we have deaf teachers. The reason for this is that they are excellent sign language models for new deaf children entering school for the first time. New, small deaf children arrive at school without any language so the primary task for them is to learn sign language.
When new hearing teachers arrive at BSD they have to undergo an intensive sign language training course often for two or three weeks before classes open to give them basic sign language skills. New teachers also have to learn deaf pedagogy and deaf culture."

The Students

Do most of your students come from impoverished families or are they a mixture of poor and rich?
"Our children come from a variety of backgrounds.  However, many parents of our deaf students struggle to keep up with the school fees which in turn create challenges for us to operate the school comfortably."
How do you get your students? Recognizing the fact that in our society, most parents with children with disabilities hide them? Or does BSD do tours to homes, communities, and churches, asking parents to enroll their deaf children? Or do you advertise?
"We have an outreach coordinator who goes out looking for deaf children. However, I find that now more and more parents of deaf children are hearing about the school and come to inquire.
Also our own deaf students are excellent recruiters – they often bring parents of deaf children to school. Public events such as Youth Day are an excellent way of publicizing the school."

Challenges & Achievements

What are some of the challenges you face running BSD?
"We have difficulty finding sufficient funds to operate the school. In the recently completed school year we had an enrollment of 110 students from all departments with a staff of 26.
We make sure the children have three meals a day and ensure that they receive medical attention when they are sick. Many parents do not complete the school fees which leaves us in a bad situation.
However, we never send a child out because of inability to pay fees. We try to get sponsorship for those children in need."
What are some of the challenges you see for girls and women with hearing impairments in Cameroon?
"I think that many girls and women in Cameroon are marginalised due to traditional beliefs and practices and lack of equal educational opportunities. With deaf girls and women, it is even more difficult to achieve access.
They are vulnerable to exploitation if they are not aware of their rights."
What are your achievements so far working at BSD?
"Well, I am amazed at what we have done. However, we did not do it alone but with the power of God and wonderful friends and supporters behind us.

We started out as a Primary school, and then created a college, then a technical department and a vocational training department. Furthermore, we moved out of a rented house and bought land at Wokoko, thanks to a grant from a US foundation.

We brought electricity, water (through a bore hole) and built a fence to keep our children safe. We have a computer lab with nine computers and a library well-stocked with books.
We have a school bus donated by a faithful supporter from outside Cameroon. We have attracted good professional teachers. We have a history of 100% success in the First School Leaving Certificate exam (at the end of Primary education) and our first batch of college Form 5 students have recently sat the O’Level examination. We are anxiously awaiting the results of this!

I believe our biggest achievement is having our supporters believe in us and in what we are trying to do for deaf children and young deaf people in Cameroon."
What advice would you give someone who wants to start up an institution for persons with special needs?
"To create a school for the deaf, it is not easy.
First of all, you must get preliminary authorisation from the Ministry of Social Affairs before you can open the school. Also, you must keep in mind a school for the deaf is not a profit−making business. There is no profit in deaf education!

The classes must be kept small to accommodate the special communication needs of the deaf students. They all have to see the teacher and each other communicate at all times.
If you are looking to make money out of a school for the deaf, simply forget it‼"

Personal Time

How do you balance your personal life as a parent and a director?
"It is not easy! Aloy and I do not have children of our own but we are raising the two children of Aloy’s youngest brother who died. We have had Marie and Ivo since they were 4 and 2 respectively. My two children now are teenagers and attend boarding school.
This means that during the term times, my husband and I do not have the children in the house. We are all comfortable with this and look forward to the holidays together. We have also raised other children and now they are married and doing fine!"
What other work do you do apart from working for BSD? I mean when you are not working for BSD, how do you spend your time?
"BSD is my only job! I really just like to stay home most of the time. I do like to travel if I have the opportunity. I am involved with my church – I am Catholic. I teach sign language there and am trying to start an interpreter training class in my church.  
In my free time, I read a lot. I also like doing puzzles and like to cook – although I am not very expert at African cooking – I never had the time to learn because I have always worked full−time! I like cooking British and international dishes, but many ingredients are not available to me here in Cameroon. I enjoy the internet when I have time."

Support

Any support from government, NGOs and / or friends? Like having subsidized [aid] for students’ tuition?
"We depend a lot on support, but most of our support comes from outside of Cameroon.
The Cameroon Government, through the Ministry of Social Affairs, gives us some small subvention from time to time. We look for sponsorship for our students to help pay their school fees. We are blessed with support from friends in Europe and USA, some of whom go back to our school days or when we were living in USA.
Some local church groups such as Catholic Women Association (CWA), Presbyterian Women (CWF) and Baptist Women help us with gifts of food.
Women’s social groups also help with food gifts. Some corporate support has been given recently, especially Supermont and Nestle Cameroon. AES−Sonel assisted us with a grant to help connect our school with electricity. We received a grant for the other half from a US organisation."
Any NGO campaigns or government’s role in ‘looking away’ for improved livelihood for deaf persons and children in Cameroon?
"Those of us who are in deaf education (there are not that many of us!) are talking about coming together to talk to the government about giving more assistance to the deaf community.  
We ask that the government give support to the concept of equal opportunity for deaf children and youth.
They can do this by supporting deaf education in general, making sure that deaf children are in school in the first place, helping with paying salaries of teachers in schools for the deaf which is done in other African countries.
They should provide support and counselling to families with deaf children. Training programs that are available to hearing people are not accessible to young deaf people."

Vision of a Utopia for Deaf People

What are your dreams for deaf people – young men and women with hearing impairments, especially?
"I guess a kind of utopia where deaf people have the opportunity to be involved in general community life. That they have access to all that society has to offer – captioned TV, sign language interpreters for a variety of events such as hospital visits, classes in hearing educational establishments, church services.
I would like also to see more people take sign language classes – I find that when hearing people take sign language classes that they learn so much about the deaf community and its culture. When people can communicate with each other, barriers are broken down.
I also want to tell you what many deaf people have told me: that they wish their families could accept them to marry a deaf person. I hope for families to be able to communicate with their deaf children and share the history of the family and the culture with their deaf children."

Just Simply See Us!

What would you like leaders to focus on as far as persons with hearing impairments are concerned?
"To just simply see us! We are here, but we are forgotten! When planning an event think of how deaf people can participate. When giving out scholarships to hearing students, why not think about deaf children and scholarships? 

When you see us in church, greet us. 

When developing programmes ask us what we need, don’t decide for us!"

Resources

Buea School for the Deaf
Website: www.bueaschdeaf.org
Facebook Group