STREET CHILDREN PHENOMENON IN CAMEROON BY HÉLÈNE PIEUME FOUNDER OF GIVHOPE 1818 Issue

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Any Bank Staff member on mission to Sub-Saharan Africa has witnessed street children roaming
the streets, gathering at street corners, traffic lights, gas stations, rail and bus stations, and
begging at their taxis, tapping on the windows. They grow up aimless, homeless, without
medical care, and are drawn to banditry, drugs, and criminal activity as they become the pawns
of thieves and drug dealers.
As a longtime Bank staff member of the Resident Mission in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon,
this phenomenon has always deeply disturbed me. The number of street children and aimless
youth has incessantly increased in Yaoundé due to wars and religious strife in the Central
African region and its bordering countries. Toward the end of my work at the Resident Mission,
I tried to launch a Bank-financed grant to create GivHOPE as a non-profit organization to assist
street youth, orphans, abandoned children and vulnerable families in Cameroon. For several
reasons, the grant could not materialize, so upon retirement in 2014, I created GivHOPE myself.
Although the government of Cameroon has a ministry dealing with distressed children, the
bureaucracy is unable to handle the growing misery by itself, and it needs the help of the
private sector to complement its efforts. Several private organizations are active in this field,
and GivHOPE, in addition to its own programs, collaborates closely with them, sharing facilities,
knowledge, and fundraising for each other’s programs. So far, 75 street children have found
shelter under GivHOPE, 13 youths received education, some even at the University of Yaoundé.
More than 300 abandoned children have been saved from daily misery by GivHOPE’s multiform
support. 12 young boys have launched small enterprises in carpentry and trade with the
guidance of GivHOPE, and 44 young women, some with small children, have started cooking
and carry out services to make a living.
GivHOPE was created in 2014 as a non-profit organization in accordance with Cameroonian law.
Its objectives are to:
(a) provide support and education of street children and vulnerable families;
(b) support efforts to protect children from malfeasance;
(c) reunite children with their families or, if impossible, find social shelters for them and reinsert
them into society through appropriate programs;
(d) improve and strengthen the schooling and apprenticeship of children, adolescents, and youngsters of the street; and,
(e) seek partnerships to fulfill the above objectives.
GivHOPE is audited regularly to account for the proper usage of its funds and prepares annual
activity plans and implementation reports. In 2017, our annual activities consisted of (1)
carrying out close to 100 field trips to identify and talk to street children and youngsters in need
of support (varying from 5 to 13 and 31 years old); (2) finding street children’s families (we found and met with close to 140 families); (3) finding shelter for abandoned children in
orphanages or with other organizations; (4) finding schooling for 11 youngsters, one of which
was handicapped; (5) finding jobs for 6 of them (a law office, construction sites, a bakery and a
clothing shop); and (6) carrying out promotional and capacity building activities to spread the
word about GivHOPE’s existence for fundraising purposes and train our target groups on how to
manage their mircro projects.
As of 2018, we have an ambitious three-year plan of action which can’t be met with our meager
means. Meanwhile, we strive to do the best we can in our field of expertise and are issuing
monthly statements of activities to keep showing our involvement and progress with GivHOPE.
Our objectives and activities with photographs are shown on our website
http://www.givhopeafrica.org/. We also produce YouTube videos about our activities on-line.
However, our fundraising has been modest, and I have been compelled to invest my own
retirement money to support the project. That is why I solicit my former Bank colleagues to
help me out sustaining this badly needed effort. You can donate on our website via Paypal or
otherwise, even with automatic monthly donations. For former Bank staff who prefer ‘one-click
internal transfers’ within the Bank-Fund Staff Federal Credit Union, GivHOPE account at
GivHOPE Africa Benevity website at
https://mygoodness.benevity.org/community/search?query=givhope&country=120. GivHOPE
contact address is Contact@givhopeafrica.org. You can reach me at my personal emails
helene.pieume@givhopeafrica.org or Hepieume51@gmail.com
I would love to hear from you and would be delighted to have you among GivHOPE regular
donors. I will let you know when I visit Washington D.C. again, to meet those who want to know
more about our projects and how we are coping to meet the Cameroonian street children’s
needs.
With many thanks to the 1818 Society for placing this article in its Fall Issue, I wish you all my
best from Cameroon.

 
 
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