By Bakah Derick 
Hope for the Needy Association HOFNA-Cameroon a Bamenda based not for profit Non-Governmental Organization NGO has rounded up a four day Girls Leadership Boot Camp in Bamenda. The four days come together bringing girls from the North West and South West Region from August 17 to 20, 2017 had as theme “Inspiring the next generation of female leaders.”
Executive Director of HOFNA Christelle Bay
Yaa Viban Board Chair of HOFNA who is also former cultural specialist at the US Embassy in Yaounde who addressed the girls at the opening justified the boot camp telling this reporter “the  idea behind this boot camp is that for women to lead we need to start inspiring the next generation of leaders. We have realized in our work that there I a big gab when it comes to women acceding to decision making positions and we realize that to be able to break that we need to start training the young girls in early age so that they can start seeing themselves and perceiving themselves as leaders. They have it in them but we just need to harness the skills that they already have so that they start having a different mindset to become enablers in the society; to become drivers in the society; to become doers’ movers and shakers. So we need to start making them think in that direction.”

During her address to the youths, the Board Chair encouraged the girls to get role models stating that “the role model effect is the key to inspiring the next generation of female leaders” since many role models can be seen in communities so the girls can be encouraged to be like them.  Yaa Viban expressed the hope of building a full program for the girls that will last for three weeks during the long holiday since the just ended boot camp is the pilot phase. While encouraging the girls to be creative in their thoughts, Yaa urged the girls to be enabling factors in their communities by being decisive in their action and taking risk towards their future.
Throughout the camping period the participants received staying in schools/going back to school, His or her/addressing Gender based violence, making good decisions, communicating with others/adults/effective social media use, healthy friendship, the power of self-confidence and overcoming your fears by eminent specialists amongst them Jannet SHE, Programs Manager HOFNA, Justice Kimbeng Glory Hig Court Bamenda, Adulkarim Ali CEO IRTECH, Comfort Mussa Journalist and Founder of Sisterspeak237, Rev Fr Francis T, Princial ST Paul’s College.
Amongst the practical activities during the boot camp was painting for Tolerance coordinated by Community youth and arts center a Bamenda based painted and artistic structure led by well-known painter and artist Bobo linux. Production of local detergents also featured as one of the activities intended to empower the girls economically.  Presentation of project ideas by participants intended to highlight the best project initiative by the participants with some voted outstanding.
Reproductive health education came on focus with Ada Mbah founder mother of Hope Cameroon educating the girls on “My body is changing-Am I normal, how does pregnancy Happen – how to communicate with a partner- preventing unwanted pregnancy and STI/HIV.” Theresa Morfaw used the gathering to empower the girls with ideas on championing rape culture. 
The Executive Director of HOFNA told the press at the close of the opening ceremony that the girls were selected due to their drive for leadership. Hear her “earlier we were looking for girls who have leadership skills and who are also not sleeping in schools. So what we did was we launched a call for application. It was online, in churches talked to parents…..we asked them what they think about leadership, what their vision is , how they want to see themselves in future…. From their responses we were able to choose….so the girls we have here are girls who have shown some degree of community service, engagement in their community, some leadership skills either in their schools or communities.” As to the future of the girls after the boot camp Christelle Bay added “we have mentoring scheme. The girls are going to be assigned mentors who are going to accompany them through their leadership journeys and to ensure that they realize their dreams and besides that someone trained them on local detergent production, entrepreneurship, designing so that some of them might want to build their skills on that and use that to generate their income and we are going to accompany them. It is pilot phase nd next time it will be a three days program and this is leading us to our girls’ academy program. It is just the beginning and we are hoping to work with many other groups of girls not just this one so they become who they actually are supposed to be.” 
As an NGO, HOFNA has as mission Empowering the most disadvantaged and susceptible youth and women to achieve lasting positive change in their lives with focus on Leadership, Development, Education promotion, Advocacy on sexual and productive Health/right and related issues and Environment protection and sustainable agriculture  
Derick BAKAH

Derick BAKAH

Bakah Derick is a Broadcast Presenter and Multimedia specialist with focus on sharing with the rest of the world the daily happenings in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. You can contact us on +237 675460750 or debakah2004@gmail.com.

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