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.