IWD 2023: armed conflict rendering many in need of basics not Tech in Bamenda

By Bakah Derick 

Abengetu Sheron is a single mother from the outskirts of Bali a small town on national road number six (N6) about 20Km from the North West Regional Headquarters; Bamenda. She has been displaced from her community to Bamenda by the over six year’s old armed conflict in the region with her native Bali as one of the epicenters. 
Courtesy https://www.internationalwomensday.com

Abengetu is attending a two-day training workshop on March 3-4, 2023 organized by the not-for-profit organization Strategic Humanitarian Services (SHUMAS) Cameroon with support from the World Food Programme (WFP) alongside other women drawn from different parts of the Northwest region. 

The training workshop on pastries, natural juice and soya beans products Abengetu like her other sisters attending the workshop believe can be a turning point in her life that has been literally shattered by the armed conflict. 

“We are being thought on how to make pastries. I am taking this very serious because if I acquire much knowledge on these things I will turn it to a good business. I hope to start producing things like chin-chin and others. I will parcel and sell hoping to make more profit that can sustain my life and that of my family. She said 
Abengetu says she has been surviving by just doing anything. She will clean people's houses, work in farms and sometimes she is not even paid. 

"I am here to learn these things because I want to improve my life. I have four children and I lost my husband in Bafut. I cannot even tell you some of the things I do to get money. I feel ashamed of myself but I thank the good God I am still alive and I have an opportunity to learn something." Yvette tells www.hilltopvoices.com 

At the close of the training workshop day-two facilitated by nutritionists with extensive knowledge in the area, the women have been taught how to produce income generating pastries like chin-chin, doughnuts, meat and fish pies, gateaux, orange, carrot pineapple and water melon juice amongst others. 

“The essence is for these women to be able to have an income generating activity. In collaboration with WFP, we have been doing food distribution in four subdivisions in Mezam and these women have been selected from these places. We are targeting over 45000 people from 9000 households with over 5000 that are women headed.” Billian Nyuykighan SHUMAS Cameroon Project Coordinator 
Billian Nyuykighan SHUMAS Cameroon Project Coordinator speaking at the workshop 

With the raging armed conflict, the demand is increasing on daily basis. The selection of the households headed by women according to SHUMAS Cameroon follow several criteria amongst them; being internally displaced, having children, pregnant or lactating and living with disabilities. This is to ensure that those who benefit are those effectively in need. 

“We have over 650 people that were selecting for this first phase. It was very difficult to come out with 100 that will be able to carry on with this training… with these 100 today, we think that they are going to take on this project and it is going to impact on their lives. We have a group of monitors who will follow-up these women and backfill where there is a gap so that they can be able to make some income for themselves.” The Project Coordinator adds. 
This picture has been circulating on social media said to be some women in the Northwest who have joined non state armed groups. We cover their faces because we cannot independently confirm the authenticity of the picture which is however not too distant from reality. The picture is circulating with their faces open with praises for their bravery. 

Like Abengetu, Claudine Ngebumb is now resident in Bamenda. She has been displaced by the conflict from Oku about 78km from the regional headquarters after resisting the temptationof joining non state armed groups. Her case seems more difficult as she has to fend for her four children. Ngebumb has received the training but has a major challenge. 

“I am very happy I had the opportunity to learn all of these things that SHUMAS has taught us. I actually do small jobs to raise some money for me and the children. The difficulty I have now is to buy the things needed to make these pastries. I am begging SHUMAS and other NGOs to look for ways to help me and my other sisters with something to start our business.  That will be very good for us.” She said 
Women during training 

As women across the World celebrate the international women's rights day, the problems of women in the Northwest Region narrow down just to basic survival. Their needs center around food, shelter and basic Healthcare. They prioritize the welbeing of their children when there is too little and are ready to go without any of the above.

"Before I used to celebrate the women's day. We had a meeting and we were always planning for the women's day well ahead of time. We used to buy uniforms and contribute money for food and drinks but today I don't even have what to eat my brother. I sleep on a small bed in a one room house here in town with three of my children. What will I be celebrating on women's day by brother." Diana tells us almost in tears. 

This year's theme, “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality,” is highlighting the role of innovative technology in promoting gender equality and meeting the health and developmental needs of women and girls. Unfortunately this represents nothing to many  women in Bamenda. 

All the women we interviewed in this report had no idea what the women's day theme is. Even when we told them, nothing excited them about it. 

"Technology means that computer naa... i don't even have a phone and you are talking about computer my brother....." Diana laughed and that brought a smile on her face after her earlier tear provoking narration. 

Visiting the Women in training, the Director General of SHUMAS Cameroon has encouraged the women to form small cooperative societies in their different communities.  According to Nformi Ndzerem Stephen Njodzeka, this will afford his institution a possibility for monitoring, mentorship and guidance on basics in managing a business. He encouraged the women to take the life skill training serious so as to make themselves financially independent thus avoiding instances of violence as a result of poverty. 
Nformi Ndzerem Stephen Njodzeka addressing over 100 women in Bamenda 

Nformi Ndzerem Stephen and his collaborators have been working with funding agencies to assist vulnerable women in the Northwest Region of Cameroon providing psychosocial support, shelter, food, school needs and more. While working in the West, Center, Southwest, Littoral and now Far North Region of Cameroon, the humanitarian hopes to tackle the most pressing needs of a majority of disenfranchised Cameroonian women. 

Post a Comment

Please Select Embedded Mode To Show The Comment System.*

Previous Post Next Post