GivHOPE Visit to the IDPs: Godswill, Mercy and Bernadette are three families with Children internally displaced because of the Anglophone Crisis from Bamenda and Batibo, the North West Region of Cameroon
Last night, GivHOPE had the opportunity to visit three internally displaced families (IDPs) from Bamenda and Batibo the North West Region of Cameroon through HaRO (Hope and Rehabilitation Organization) who are facing serious economic and integration challenges.
This first face to face’s objective was to listen to them, see their day-to-day dealings in Yaoundé, feel their pains and see how we can put a bit of smile on their faces by showing them our human face, our friendship, love and especially warm up their hearts again.
The IDPs we met live in very poor conditions: Godswill has a tiny room with wife and 9 children, 3 of them are his own children and the others are orphans from Batibo orphanage. Despite the severe economic and integration hardship he is going through, he took upon himself to save 6 other children’s lives by taking them along with him to Yaoundé when the crisis hit its peak in the North West.
We found two of them at home. They couldn’t resume classes with their other mates because of the lack of money to pay tuition and school supplies even thought they had brilliantly passed their exams and had their O’Level last year (Elementary High School Level).
As a matter of fact, these families are a small sample of the growing number of displaced persons during the last 20 months looking for refuge in Yaoundé and other cities and villages in the French speaking Cameroon. At HaRO, they have registered 576 women, 378 men and 1064 children, for a total of 2018 IDPs, just at one rehabilitation center.
The North West and South West crisis has left 1,850 dead, more than 437,000 are currently internally displaced and tens of thousands of refugees, mostly women and children with 35,000 refugees in Nigeria, according to the UN Briefing, dated March 27, 2019. UN estimates per region: 246,000 of them in the Southwest Region, 105,000 in the Northwest Region, and 86,000 in the Littoral and West Regions.
The conflict as per the same source said that the Anglophone regions are causing a major humanitarian crisis and the intransigence of the belligerents threatens to generate further violence and prolong the conflict. However, the government is doing everything it takes to curb the situation as some Development Partners such as UNICEF and UNHCR also give a helping push.
Civil Society Organizations such as HaRO and GivHOPE are joining hands together to explore means and ways to bring their modest help to these IDPs in a sustainable manner.
“My restaurant was burned to ashes and I ran away, spending many months in the bushes before my sister sent me transport money to come to Yaoundé. Once I got here I started another restaurant business and one day, I was going to the market on a motorcycle that ran through a car accident. The vehicle hit the motorcycle rider who fell down with me and the vehicle ran on my leg. Both the driver and the motorcycle rider ran away and the police took me to the hospital where my leg was amputated. Now I am on crushes and have lost all my assets”, said Bernadette.
Bernadette’s story is not the only troubling story we keep hearing. Many IPDs face the same challenges such as isolation from markets, labor market discrimination, difficulty accessing formal labor markets due to legal or language barriers such as documentation requirements (Birth certificates, ID cards, diplomas, degrees, school report cards, etc.) and French vs. English language and the loss of social networks and support mechanisms.
Other major challenges IPDs live with almost daily are the experience of lower incomes when they have the opportunity to find a job. A lady told us that she works for 30.000 FCFA per month which is less than the Cameroon minimum wage and most of that money is spent on taxi to/from her job side. There’s nothing she can do to improve her living conditions because with this salary, she pays rent, provides food, clothing, health and everything for her family. They also face other complications such as health, education, security, housing, labor conditions, and social wellbeing that make it very difficult for IDPs to feel at home, separated from their lands, natural milieus, families, friends and communities, especially children, women and girls. Godswill, wife and 9 children live in a tiny room that even a single bed can’t enter. They are obliged to bend the 15 cm meters thick mattress into two to sleep and the rest of the household goes on the floor. “We need all, all that can help me support my family’s needs. When I look at my children who are not yet registered in school, I feel uncomfortable and hopeless because I don’t know what to do. I have no job, no capital to go into business such as selling palm oil, learning how to drive or farming. I just want to keep busy but here in Yaoundé, what can I do, there’s no room?” Godswill stated.
GivHOPE mission is to make sure each child has a family or a community and not the street and each family has food, shelter, vital resources, and access to at least the basic needs (Health, education, housing, security and social wellbeing). To fulfill our overall objective, 4 target groups: Street children, families at risk, vulnerable dropout youths and now IDPs (Internally Displaced People) from the North West and South West crises and 4 pillars such as capacities building, formal education for those who want to go back to school, vocational training centers for those in apprenticeship and income generating activities for displaced parents and families at risk. For details, please visit our website at www.givhopeafrica.org and hit “Donate now” button.
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