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Education is Hope: Providing the means for children victim of the crisis in Cameroon to access a protective learning environment

Distribute 100 educational packages to children victim of the conflict so they have the means and supplies necessary for their education

Photo of CAMAAY Cameroon
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Cameroon is facing a humanitarian crisis, caused primarily by the ongoing Boko Haram attacks in the Far North, by a separatist insurgency affecting mainly the North West and South West regions, and the use of abusive force by the government security forces. The violence has resulted in serious human rights abuses, and the displacement of many Cameroonians seeking refuge. As a result of the socio-political crisis, the United Nations estimated that, as of November 2018, over 244 000 civilians displaced in the Far North and 437 500 in the North West and South West regions. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre recorded 459 000 IDPs in 2018, of which 437 000 were associated with the conflict in the Anglophone region. The North West and South West now host 40 per cent of the total displaced population in Cameroon. Since mid-2017, armed Anglophone separatists who want to create a new nation called Ambazonia target the education system with the intention of boycotting schools, in reaction of the perceived discrimination by the Francophone-dominated national government, burning dozens of schools, threatening and violently attacking teachers and students, and kidnapping principals. As a result, children in the community have been exposed to numerous traumatic incidents including witnessing violence, the destruction of their homes and villages, torture and killings. This is the case for the children in the community where we work and plan on implementing the project, Oku, situated in the North West region. It is also a host community for internally displaced persons. The community members believe working towards providing their children with a safe learning environments is a priority. Access to education for these children will reduce exposure to harm, help re-establish a sense of normalcy and bring them hope. Fortunately, schools in Oku were not damaged by the conflict, but education supplies are an essential component in the learning process.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The project will be implemented in Oku, an Anglophone rural region in the North West of Cameroon. This region has been particularly affected by the conflict. This community is targeted by our project given our organisation's ties and network in the region, and our understanding of the dynamics in the community. It is also targeted because the project size aligns well with the needs of the community. Our organisation would be able to provide a package to the children in need in the community.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

The project is designed to enhance collaboration between Anglophones and Francophones. We will ensure classes are given in English to avoid exacerbating tensions, but translation services will be offered to non-anglophones to support them in their education. Another focus is on addressing the common needs of IDPs and their host communities. To discourage violence against children when they're on their way to school, we will bring together a critical mass of community members to accompany them.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Education is the most powerful tools for children's personal development. It offers them a chance of breaking from the cycle of poverty by providing them the knowledge, skills and competencies to better understand the world they live in, develop critical thinking and innovate. This helps them build their confidence, unlock their full potential and become positive agents of change in their community. By attending school, they have an opportunity to further develop interpersonal skills, cross-cultural understanding, and values of inclusiveness. Education plays an important role in crisis situations. It provides a place where children can learn how to manage their emotions, and improve their resilience through play-based learning and positive social interactions. By distributing essential education supplies and covering the basic scholar fees for families who can't afford it, we bring dignity, joy, and hope. It will also provide safety.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Girls of school age compose the majority of IDPs in Cameroon. Children living in the poorest families have a lower level of attendance in primary school, with the girls being more impacted. By providing educational packages to children facing specific barriers on a priority basis, we will help narrow the gender and equality gaps. By addressing urgent needs of families, we will build awareness on the importance of equality of chances. Indicators of impacts of the project will include for example the percentage increase of attendance in school compared to the last semester, the percentage of students from below poverty line who attended school (disaggregated by gender, family income, etc.). Teachers will provide a life-skill curriculum adapted to the situations, a safe space and will help monitor the kids well-being. On the long run, children will disseminate positive values and knowledge to improve the socioeconomic situation of their family.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

We strongly believe protective education can save lives and alleviate suffering. What is at stake is too important to our organisation and community for us to stay on the sidelines. We want and need to be part of the solution. Members of our community have witnessed the torture and murder of their partner or family members. As part of our healing process, we wish to take concrete, meaningful actions at the community scale, as a beacon of hope and safety. Understanding that the right to education is most at risk during this emergency situation, but it is also the exact time when it is needed the most for their children, mothers in Oku have identified that providing educational packages is an excellent first-step in this direction. Our organisation is aware of the success and positive impact other NGOs have with the distribution of school kits, and wish to build on this good practice. The innovation will be found in the new and reinforced bridges in Oku.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

We've heard from our discussions with parents and children that many feel that their future is compromised by the lack of access to education. They feel like they are denied from living a dignified life. Children enjoy school and expressed it is important for their well-being. Many caregivers don't foresee a near future where they could financially supporting their children to go back to school. With many families in the same situation, no loans can be accessed to cover the costs of levies or books. As people shared their stories, it became clear that they are direct victims of the conflict: a husband was killed because he was selling meat to military officers, kids have lost their parents. We noticed a lack of understanding on the source of the conflict and cultural misconception (armed groups are uneducated). CAMAAY will address this via awareness-raising activities. Leaving no one behind is a core value of the community: IDPs are generally well included; orphans are cared for.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Our idea is very promising because it originated as a demand from the community. The trust between our organization and the families, given our long standing involvement in the region with multiple partners, will help foster collaboration throughout the implementation of our project. The community shows a great deal of resilience in the face of the security crisis and multidimensional development challenges. Relations between IDPs and the members of the host community are very good, and want it to remain that way. This resilience and solidarity that we witness every day, provides a great basis to build from, as we work toward maintaining peace and tolerance within the community. Concretely, it will allow us to get the help from volunteers in the community to put together the packages, help monitor the security situation, the well-being of the children and the impacts of the project, help provide a psychologically and physically safe environment, help with transportation, etc.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We will leverage our existing network in the region, especially our partner schools and small businesses and entrepreneurs, to respectively ensure a life-skill curriculum is ready for the school year, and to help purchase and transport the supplies for the education packages. We will also seek the support from education personal, and national young professionals and education personnel, on a voluntary basis, and UN Online volunteers to assist in some tasks such as translation and the development of psychosocial and educational tools. We would like to build our network of funding partners. This would contribute to the sustainability of our efforts.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Prototype: We have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Group or Organization Name

Cameroon Association of Active Youths (CAMAAY)

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

We are the Cameroon Association of Active Youths (CAMAAY), a a non-political, non-religious, non-profit organisation that focuses on community-empowerment. We envision a society wherein every individual has the opportunity to grow and contribute to the socioeconomic development of the community in Cameroon. We promote social justice by raising awareness of social issues and by fostering cultural understanding and appreciation through different programs. We tackle the most pressing needs of people at the grassroots level with local governments, schools, communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment, sport. We work in the North West region of Cameroon, a region we've come to know well. In the following video, Mr. Chang, coordinator of CAMAAY, explain the role of the association, his work and his life in Cameroon: https://youtu.be/UXZvfL8N2Lk

Website URL:

https://www.facebook.com/CamaayWorldwide/ https://www.volunteerworld.com/fr/review/camaay

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

Cameroon

Organization Headquarters: City / State

Bamenda North West Region

4 comments

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Photo of Uchenna Okafor
Team

Hi CAMAAY Cameroon! This is a thoughtful humanitarian step. However, is there plans to include braille books in the distribution for the blind learners? You may agree with me that blind persons also need education and other developmental programs, if they must lead a productive and dignified lives in social integration and economic inclusion.

Photo of NDEF Cameroon
Team

Hello team at CAMAAY Cameroon. It is indeed important for schools to go on. Have you tried to network with the two main warring parties to be partners and stakeholders to the idea; else what guarantee is there not to have a misdirected or stray bullet at the school?

Photo of Bremley Lyngdoh
Team

Hi CAMAAY Cameroon  thank you for sharing your idea and welcome to the Bridgebuilder Challenge 2019. The challenge's idea phase will be closing on 17th August. Could you clarify if you are working directly with the people on the move and IDPs in the refugee camps? What are the results of the project so far in your prototype phase?

I would suggest also to have a look at our challenge brief: https://ideo.to/K22qFn and our challenge evaluation criteria: https://ideo.to/NQ6TlJ

To help guide your research, you can have a look at our community research toolkit: https://uploads-ssl.webflow.com/5a147545b687370001bfd10c/5d1669526ad3cb33291bf633_User-Experience-Interview.pdf, and possibly create and share with us the project user i.e. the refugees or IDPs journey map which is very important to integrate into this platform as you progress in the challenge!

Photo of Udoka Inwang
Team

Amazing concept CAMAAY Cameroon