Saturday, March 8

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....”

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