Summary of activities, January to June 2020

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AYA Group began the year 2020 on a high note with the launch of projects to empower women and girls in some remote villages of North West Cameroon. Although the ongoing crisis had limited it areas of coverage while reducing activities implementation as well as donors, the organization was able to secure funding to support women and girls gain knowledge and skills in the following domains which included Peace and Security, Maternal and Reproductive health, Access to food and water, Education and Economic empowerment.

Rural women and girls are actively involved in their group activities. They hold their group meetings to brainstorm on their respective projects and have successfully created safe discussion spaces to meet their unique needs in the health, social, economic and psychosocial domains. Open discussion sessions are held in groups for sharing and exchanges on identifying challenges faced by the women in a crisis situation. Rural women are empowered with knowledge on how to build their resilience in the midst of the crisis and how to act as mediators for peace in their respective communities.

With the support of a community volunteer, a community-based nurse holds detailed discussion sessions with groups on reproductive health, family planning and general hygiene. Rural women and girls can improve on their personal hygiene and health.

Women engage in agricultural activities. They have practical lessons on identifying a good nursery, manure formation, bed formation, nursing of cabbage seeds . They received farming inputs during the month of March to ensure a good farming season as well as high productivity.

A girls group was formed to empower rural girls. They hold monthly discussion sessions on female leadership, goal setting and peer mentoring. They are now able to differentiate between goal settings, life objective and peer mentoring thanks to the interactive sharing and exchanges sessions.

A training on the production of powder soap was organised with women groups. Women highly appreciated the training which aimed at scaling up the future establishment of their cooperative.

With the outbreak of corona virus pandemic which gradually caused a global shut down of movement and activities towards the end of the month of March 2020, the main sponsored project of AYA was suspended till further notice. Notwithstanding AYA groups of women and girls in rural communities were able to continue with some of their group meetings/activities such as socio-economic empowerment, women leadership etc through which community volunteers were able to raise awareness and sensitise them on COVID-19 to enable them protect themselves and stay safe. They were encouraged to respect the measures put in place by the World Health Organisation, as well as the measure put in the place by the government help prevent the spread of the pandemic. Community volunteers and rural women groups groups received buckets, face masks, gloves and soap.

Amidst the pandemic women and girls especially those in the rural communities were at risk of certain forms of vulnerabilities since provision for services on sexual reproductive health and rights had been diverted to the fight of COVID-19 although such basic services were of urgent need more than before. In solidarity with women, women groups and their partners who were front liners during the pandemic and thanks to the financial support from one its funders, AYA was able to increase awareness raising on the pandemic donated buckets, face masks and protective gears to women/girls groups, community volunteers as well as traditional councils in rural communities.

The groups were also supported with ingredients for the production of medicated soap, body lotion, powder soap, farming inputs, face masks and other protective measures to curb the spread of corona virus in their villages. The final products from the productions as well as farming harvest was shared amongst group members while excess sold to generate income in order to sustain economic growth of the groups.

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted all activities/movement in the entire world and greatly affected AYA ongoing projects in 4 communities. With the outbreak of the global health crisis, AYA do not have sufficient resources to continue running it activities while supporting its groups of rural women/girls as well as carryout continuous sensitisation on COVID-19. Also most members in the communities do not have television and android phones where they can listen or search information about corona virus. Some do nor even believe it exist and some are making a mockery of corona virus.

2019 Milestones and New Year Wishes!

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AYA Group in its mission to support and empower women/girls in rural communities of North West Cameroon implemented a range of projects and activities to provide safe space and suitable living conditions for them in the following domains:

  • Health: Through a 1-year funded project, AYA was able to educate women/girls with the support of a community nurse on menstruation, menstrual hygiene management, body hygiene, common STIs, HIV/AIDS and nutrition. IMG-20190822-WA0061The women/girls were able to learn about family planning, improve on their personal hygiene as well as produce reusable sanitary pads.

 

  • Advocacy and rights:  Women were trained to advocate for their rights to have access to landed properties and  influence gender biased customary laws in their respective communities through workshops and exchange visits. IMG-20191214-WA0037The highlight of the project was the audience granted to the women advocates for the first time during traditional elders meeting sessions to speak on issues affecting them.

 

  • Agriculture: Gardens were established by women groups in some rural communities. The crisis rocking the Anglophone regions has greatly affected agricultural activities especially in rural areas which they solely depend  on those gardens as means of livelihood.

    The gardens provided food for their families and income through marketing the excess harvest.

 

  • Socio-economic empowerment: With financial and material support from a donor in France, some vulnerable women and babies affected by the ongoing socio-political crisis in the English regions, were empowered on income generation through trainings on production of body lotion, medicated soap and powder soap to enable them raise extra income.

    The material support which was mainly baby’s clothes was also distributed to internally displaced mothers.

 

  • Activism: From safe spaces created for women and girls groups through all the projects/activities implemented in 2019, it did empowered and improved on their knowledge and advocacy skills through networking, exchanging and sharing of ideas during workshops, and the 16 days activism campaign carried out in their respective communities.

The team of volunteers of the African Youth Alliance, the rural women and girls we work with in villages of North West Cameroon wish you a Happy Year 2020😊! We are grateful for all your support!

 

October, November and December 2019 updates

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In October, women advocates and community volunteers visited the Elemighong and Tumuku traditional councils to continue exchanging/sharing ideas on GBV faced by women/girls in their respective communities. This was the very first-time women were granted audience to speak on issues affecting them during traditional council sessions, this is a major achievement in these deeply traditional and patriarchal communities.

During both meetings which had the attendance of 19 members at Tumuku traditional council and 17 members at Elemighong traditional council, council elders assured the women that their representatives at the workshops organised by the African Youth Alliance brought feedbacks which they had being discussing in their council meetings. They also promised to continue in the promotion of women/girls’ rights in the council sessions to seek suitable solutions to harmful traditional laws/norms affecting their rights to ownership of landed properties, succession, early child marriage etc.

It was the harvest season in gardens.

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Groups were able to sell the excess harvest to community members .

Groups dynamics and leadership were discussed in some communities at the request of women to strengthen communication and the active participation of women and girls to activities organised.

The main activity carried out in November was the 16 Days Activism against GBV in groups and their respective communities. Despite many events such death celebrations, church conferences and traditional marriages, a total of 250 women/girls kick started the campaign.

In their respective groups and communities, they raised awareness on gender-based violence,  through education and displaying messages.

In the 3rd edition of Yali Impact Symposium organized by Mandela Washington Fellows Alumni Cameroon at Palais des Congress Yaoundé on 16th November 2019, two AYA team members had the opportunity to be selected out of the 400 participants who were chosen from 2400 applicants. The event sponsored by the US Embassy under the theme “The Role of Youth in Peace building and the Sustainable Development in Cameroon” was graced by dignitaries and diverse motivational speakers who aimed at identifying, celebrating and empowering youth leaders who were already involved in developing their communities through their small initiatives. Thanks to the platform, which was highly educative and inspiring, the staff learned a lot on personal skills development through paradigm shift of mindset and it also did improve their capacities to become more proactive in order to contribute to the organisational growth. The symposium also served as a good networking opportunity for the team who met with likeminded youths and organisation to enable them share experience and gain knowledge related to the symposium and other pertinent issues such as how to advance the rights of women and girls as well as the improve the social inclusion of youths in decision making platforms in Cameroon.

Despite the numerous festive activities the team was very much committed in carrying all the planned and December was very successful . With the support of the community volunteers, the field coordinator was able to continue the 16 Days campaign against GBV in all groups, reaching out to over 400 women/girls. In  group meetings they discussed and brainstormed all forms GBV. They met with stakeholders and traditional leaders . The knowledge and lessons learnt during the interactive group meetings helped to improve on their advocacy skills .

A community event was organised with women, stakeholders and community volunteers on 14th December to round up some advocacy activities on women rights with traditional leaders. It was animated with a report presentation, short sketches, role play and dramas showcasing AYA activities and various lessons learnt during the year on succession, women/widow rights to have access to land properties etc. Through drama and role-plays, women and community-based volunteers continued to empower traditional leaders, women and the community at large, raising awareness on gender biased customary laws at the level of the traditional councils and customary courts.

A rape case of a young woman (20 years) who got pregnant from the dismay, was presented to AYA group for support and financial assistance. The AYA team mobilised their network of supporters and friends to help the victim.

Contact us at africanyouthalliancegroup@gmail.com if you want to work with us.

2019 Yali Symposium Experience by 2 volunteers of AYA

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In this year 3rd edition of YALI (Young Africans Leaders Initiative) Impact Symposium organised by Mandela Washington Fellows Alumni Cameroon, two African Youth Alliance (AYA) volunteers had the privilege to attend the event at Palais des Congrès Yaoundé on the 16th November 2019.

The symposium sponsored by the US Embassy under the theme “The Role of Youth in Peace building and the Sustainable Development in Cameroon”, was graced with the presence of Cameroon Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Ambassador of the US embassy, invited guests, other dignitaries, Mandela Washington Fellows Alumni Cameroon, YALI Cameroon Fellows  and 400 youths.

In the US Ambassador’ welcome address, he congratulated the 400 participants who were selected amongst 2’400 applicants for the work they are doing to impact the lives of their community as well as the national. He also further encouraged them to use the symposium platform to build their skills in becoming agents of change in their respective jobs. The Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education preceded the opening of the symposium and in his speech quoted that “peace and security were indispensable elements for development but youths are a unique resource for development”.  The highlights of the symposium were inspiring talks and a panel discussions by young leaders. The motivational speakers encouraged youth leaders to have a paradigm shift through a change of mindset, develop a positive attitude towards life, identifying a need in the society, make a commitment and focus all their passion to contribute in solving that need.

They were also urged to continuously improve on themselves through learning and also look for mentors who could coach, groom and trained them in their different careers background. The symposium which was very educative and inspiring, helped to strengthen the AYA team capacities as much as improve their personal skills to become more productive in their leadership role as well as contribute to their organisation’ growth. It offered a good networking opportunity for AYA team to meet likeminded youths and organisations to enable them share experiences and knowledge on issues affecting the youths of Cameroon.

Quarterly updates (July to September 2019)

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Dear friends, followers and supporters, our updates will now be published quarterly as you would have noticed from our last publication. Thank you for you for the love always.

July and August were set aside for final training sessions and evaluations of a one year project launched last September 2018 to enable rural women and girls from 4 communities in the North West Region of Cameroon gain basic knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR); menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and provide access to reusable sanitary pads.

The last training for the project was done in all 7 groups on the production of reusable sanitary pads.  Over 266 women trained highly appreciated the skill. They are now able to manage their menstrual hygiene properly through the produce and consumption of the sanitary pads by themselves. They also supply other women in their community.

Another major activity for the month was the distribution of clothes to pregnant women/breastfeeding mothers and women thanks to a material (mostly babies’ clothes and few for women) and financial donation made by one of our supporter. With the donation, these provided relief assistance to the beneficiaries who lack access to basic facilities because of the ongoing crisis in the region.

All beneficiaries 62 people from Tumuku and 83 people from the 2 groups of Twang and Muchuni in Chuaku amongst which 37 were breastfeeding mothers/pregnant women with their babies thanked AYA immensely and promised to keep the memories of all good deeds so dearly in their hearts.

We held a second workshop with the presidents of all groups, volunteers, quarter heads and council chairpersons. They  met to discuss gender-based violence in terms of marriage and widows rights. Participants highlighted the challenges faced by women/girls as they advocate against such traditional practices.

The male participants promised to continue the fight to end GBV against women and to promote gender equality in the community. It was remarkable to have 107 women and volunteers, and several community leaders  and traditional leaders present, it is rare such topics discussed in the presence of traditional authorities. We appreciate the gradual shifting of attitudes in the communities since the start of the project last year.

In September, the heavy and continuous rainfall could not stop women to attend a traditional council session at Chuaku with the general supervision of the field coordinator. They met with traditional rulers to discuss GBV with emphasis laid on women’s right to have access land properties.

Traditional council members started the advocacy campaign on GBV in their council meetings as well as in their communities, after they attended the past workshops with the women. The quarter head of Chuaku encouraged the African Youth Alliance to continue with awareness raising and sensitisations in the whole community. He feels encouraged to have for the first time been invited to discuss such issues with women.

The gracious support of a new partner in France  enabled us to carry out trainings on powder soap production, medicated soap and body lotion for new members in the group at Elemighong and the 2 groups of Twang and Muchuni in Chuaku. The trainings continued to provide access to basic needs as well as improve on livelihoods with the scarcity of those basic commodities in their communities caused by the Anglophone crisis.

We extend our profound gratitude to all our supporters. Contact us aa africanyouthalliance@gmail.com if you are interested in supporting our activities.

6 Months Updates (Feb to June 2019)

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Hello Friends and supporters!

We had a moment of silence due to some internal changes and adjustments at the African Youth Alliance! We are back with updates on our activities and projects with women and girls in North West Cameroon.

February, March and April were proactive months for AYA groups. Two major activities were carried out reaching out to a total of 341 women/girls. The first activity was the training of all 7 groups on production of Medicated Aloe Vera soap.

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The training aimed at improving their personal hygiene and the excess from the production was sold to generate income.

AYA 1st women workshop under the theme “Discussing the challenges faced by women in terms of traditional norms and values” was organised with women, quarter-heads and council chairpersons.

69 women from Aboh and Ntum groups were empowered with leadership skills to enable them advocate on their rights and tackle gender-based violence in customary courts and the community at large.

In May we reached out to a total of 448 women/girls in 7 AYA groups. The main activities carried out were trainings on production of body lotion, completing medicated soap production in 2 groups and nestling of cabbage seeds in the group gardens.

Discussion sessions were held in all groups on the challenges faced by women/girls groups when it comes to succession.

Women were encouraged to exercise patience as they seek to address these challenges and change the cultural norms and values.

In June the concept of reusable sanitary pads was introduced to 7 groups. They learned how to  taught how maintain and use them and a total of 360 cotton pants and 620 reusable sanitary pads were distributed to each member reaching out to 237 women/girls.

 

The community nurse also rounded up discussions on reproductive health with focus on contraceptive and birth control methods, contraceptive method services available in the community and how to have access to them.

Patience Maih (34 years) a volunteer of Alinekoe group in Tumuku had this to say, in quotes

Patience Maih 34 years Volunteer Alinekoe group

“I have benefited from the family planning method taught by African Youth Alliance especially the calendar method which goes with safe and unsafe period and I am now able to space my children”

Another major activity carried out were discussion meetings on Marriage rites and its challenges. The objective of the activity was to help identify the causes of violence faced by women/girls in marriage and how it could be addressed. A total of 177 women were reached out and they highly appreciated the knowledge gained.

Activities implementation was challenging in July, due to ongoing crisis in Anglophone regions and poor health of the field coordinator and volunteers. Notwithstanding, discussion sessions were held in 5 groups on widows rites and its challenges, reaching out 127 women/girls.

Several difficulties faced by widows were raised:  seizing of their husband’s properties by the successor, forcing them to remarry the successor or keeping them indoors. The traditional councils and chairpersons were encouraged to brainstorm on this pertinent issue during their council meetings.  We reached out to 123 women and girls. Groups  transplanted seedlings of cabbages in the gardens and produced powder soap, medicated aloe vera soap, body lotion etc. to raise income.

Wointoh Evelyn (49 years) , President of Alinekoe group said, in quotes

Wointoh Evelyn 49 years President Alinekoe group

“I have benefited from the trainings by African Youth Alliance which have enabled me to able to produce powder soap detergent, medicated soap and body lotion and sell to take care of my family. I am happy because AYA has removed poverty from me and my community”

We express our sincere appreciation to all our donors, volunteers and supporters!

January 2019 updates

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January was amazing!

We continue to monitor our group gardens and farms

We had 2 major activities with our clubs of girls and women.

Education on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: We reached out to 172 rural women and girls with our project on education on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. With the support of a community nurse, discussed Common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) and how to prevent them. She did some demonstrations on how to properly use condoms to prevent those STIs.

The participants shared feedback on being able to understand the consequences of unprotected sex, the symptoms of STIs and the consequences of untreated STIs. They also know where to seek help and treatment.

 

Advocacy trip to the capital city : With the support of HER VOICE fund, we had a 4 days network/exchange visits with 10 adolescent girls and young women to the capital city of Cameroon, Yaoundé.

Our main objectives were to bridge the gap through Information and experience sharing advocacy meetings between 10 adolescent girls and young women from NW Cameroon and stakeholders at the ministries of social affairs and women empowerment and the family in Cameroon for a better inclusion of youth voices in policy and programming processes. We were very grateful for the opportunity, we say a HUGE THANK YOU to the team at HER VOICE FUND for this life transforming experience.

 

December 2018

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We reached out to about 230 women and girls during the month of December. Our objectives were to:

  • Train a group of girls on the production of body lotion
  • Train rural women on proper hygiene and common infections due to poor hygiene during menstruation
  • Evaluate some of our project activities with our groups in Bamenda.

 

  1. Production of body lotion

About 20 girls from one of our group in Bamenda were trained in the production of body lotion. They were very excited to know that they can now produce body lotion at an affordable cost.

« I am very happy that I was able to benefit from this training because not every girl has this opportunity. And I am very happy because I am going to save my money, instead of buying body lotion, I will make it myself and I am going to put this training into practice by making the lotion for my whole family” Grateful (16 years) 

  1. Train rural women on proper hygiene and common infections due to poor hygiene during menstruation

Over 200 rural women and girls were trained in 5 groups on how to maintain a proper body hygiene during menstruation.

They also learned the common infections that can affect them during menstruation in case of poor hygiene.

 

  1. Evaluating the impact of project activities with our groups in Bamenda.

The evaluation was carried out on the two groups that benefited from programs in Bamenda since January 2018. The various projects carried out with them involved:

  • Detergent production: it has had a great impact on the beneficiaries and many now produce it for use at home and for income generation. We have had about 150 direct and indirect beneficiaries from this activity.
  • Arts/craft: This was the most excited activity and most attended activity by women and girls. This was probably because they knew they were going to generate a good amount of money from the sales of the product as is the case now. Every member has successfully trained at least three family members or friends. The beneficiaries of this activity can be estimated to 80 persons.
  • Body lotion: The 2 groups were trained and most interesting the younger girls in group I appreciated the lotion more than the older women. At least we had 60 direct beneficiaries and about 20 indirect beneficiaries.
  • Computer training: A total of sixteen (16) women/girls have been trained on computer. Some trainees took more time to complete the training due to the socio political instability in the area, others. We are proud to say that all our girls braved all the odds to complete their training.
  • Baking of Cakes/peanuts: This was a complimentary activity to motivate members of the groups. Group (I) received this with so much enthusiasm and their parents have benefited from the services during the festive period. A total of thirty three women/girls were beneficiaries of this activity.

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The AYA team has impacted about one hundred thirty (130) lives through this socioeconomic empowerment programme.

 

Our biggest surprise during the month was a Christmas Party organized by one of our group of girls in Bamenda.   20 girls exchanged gifts. Most gifts, food and drinks were bought with money earned by them. A beautiful testimony of how they now generate some income though all the activities they learned in their group during the year!

 

To all our Donors, we wish you a happy new year 2019, thanking you for your incredible support in 2018. We have been working in a difficult context due to the sociopolitical crisis we face in our region. With the generous support of people like you, we were able to unceasingly continue to reach out to women and girls by providing safe spaces, resources, training and education that improves their lives.

Thank you again as we look forward to your continued support.

November 2018 updates

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The month of November started up with a lot of enthusiasm from all the members of the African Youth Alliance following a suspension of activities at the end of October  due to the uncertain socio political atmosphere around the election period in our region.  We have mobilized about 35 girls who will join our group of girls in Bamenda next year.  They are anxiously waiting for the highly motivated activities of the African Youth Alliance. A part from their regular meetings which hold twice a month and which are safe discussion spaces where the girls can interact and discuss various subjects,   the groups in Bamenda had two practical training sessions.

Our groups of rural women and girls are engaged in a project that will enable them gain basic knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and menstrual hygiene management (MHM).

Our objectives for the month were:

  • Organize workshops with the nurse in all the groups of rural women/girls with lesson by nurse to the groups on, puberty, the menstruation cycle and changes that  occur in the body during menstruation
  • organize a training session on female leadership and thinking towards success for one group of girls in Bamenda
  • organize a training on the production of a snack highly consumed and commercialized in Bamenda for our 2nd group of women/girls in Bamenda

Workshops with 5 groups of rural women

In September, We started a project that will enable rural women and girls to basic information on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Menstrual Hygiene Management and access to washable sanitary pads during their period. This month, With the support of a community nurse, we discussed puberty and the biological changes that occur for girls and boys during that period with 197 rural women and girls.

95% of the women/girls engaged on the project recognize this is the first time they have the opportunity to discuss such subjects which are considered taboo in the village. They are very active during the workshops and are extremely grateful for all the lessons and all what they learn so far.

 

Activities with the groups in Bamenda

The lessons on female leadership and positive thinking towards success for girls were a huge success. Twelve girls benefited from this lesson. They were encouraged to be positive, confident and to take up leadership roles in school or in various groups they belong to.

They were also encouraged be creative in order to upgrade the skills learned at the African Youth Alliance. As a response to this lesson 18years old Fanuella a student, vowed to change her way of reasoning i.e. to overcome fear and learn to sacrifice for her goals.

Our second group in Bamenda learned how to produce peanuts a snack highly consumed in Bamenda.

Most women who benefited from the training said they are going to produce it for income generation during the festive season in December.

We remain grateful to all our sponsors, supporters and community based volunteers for the support and all the hard work despite the difficult conditions we live in North West Cameroon.

October 2018 activities

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The activities for the month of October were briefly suspended for 10 days due to the uncertain socio political atmosphere around the election period in our region.  Despite that we successfully reached out to about 280 women and girls with whom we:

  • Completed our computer training
  • Discussed female leadership, goals setting and peer group pressure
  • Discussed menstruation
  • Trained on irrigation techniques for sustainable gardening during the dry season

 

Computer training

We successfully completed the computer training with our last batch of trainees.

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Some trainees are happy to say they can produce basic leaflets and cards for their businesses.

 

Activities with rural women and girls

We rounded up our series of discussions on goal setting, peer pressure and female leadership.

We are gradually entering into the dry season; we worked on irrigation to ensure a successful gardening in one group community garden.

We started some preliminary discussions on our project that will enable rural women and girls to basic information on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Menstrual Hygiene Management and access to washable sanitary pads during their period. We shared more information about what menstruation is, the ages and how it happens

We appreciate all our volunteers and supporters; they continue to support us despite the crisis and difficult conditions we work in our region. The women and girls we work with are very active and count on us. Reach us at africanyouthalliancegroup@gmail.com if you are interested in partnering with us.