STREET CHILDREN -ENFANTS DE LA RUE CAMEROON: World Bank 1818 Society Fall Issue
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 clo
se to 140 families); (3) fin
ding 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 https://www.givhopeafrica.org/. We also produce YouTube videos about our activities online.
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’s account at the Credit Union is 4109500.
I would love to hear from you and would be delighted to have you among GivHOPE’s 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.