By Kesah Princely
Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon say the Anglophone Crisis has greatly affected their livelihoods.
Atlantic Chronicles interviewed two leaders of associations of PWDs, who both presented staggering revelations on the situation of Persons With Disabilities vis-a-vis the deepening armed conflict in Anglophone Cameroon. The two are, Ngong Peter Tonain; a Sociology PhD Candidate and President of Hope Social Union For The Visually Impaired (HSUVI), and Kum Nji Desmond, Law Student and President of The Association of Students With Disabilities in the University of Bamenda.
Ngong Peter Tonain:
Being a person with visual Impairment, Mr. Tonain intimated that the Crisis has had enormous repercussions on him, and on members of his association.
He equally cited that uncontrolled gun battles between separatist fighters and the military, have left him in perpetual fear. As a result of such actions, Ngong Peter Tonain has limited his social interactions with family and friends.
The Anglophone Crisis has brought untold material and financial losses among the Anglophone community. And Mr. Tonain has also suffered such losses.
“I’m a breadwinner for myself and family, but as a result of this instability, I’ve greatly been put out of employment. I used to run petty businesses and even tutor as a part-timer in some private institutions, but with the nature of my impairment and the dangling educational situation of the two restive regions, my sources of livelihood have come to a halt.
Worst of it all is that the inception of the November 2016 uprisings coincided with the start of the very last rung in my academics,” he said.
“Although the studies have continued to push amidst the fragile political atmosphere, I’ve been forced to suspend them indefinitely, mindful of the fact that I was under self-sponsorship and now cannot even raise money for feeding, talk less of financing a demanding academic venture in the midst of an unpredictable crisis situation. As President of HSUVI, it has been challenging to lead his association in such difficult moments.
“It has not been easy at all bringing together my group members as was the case before 2016. During meeting days and occasions, many of them express worries of coming out for fear that they might go into unforeseen crossfires and shocks as has been the case with a good number of them. Others too have fled from Bamenda and are now seeking shelter as IDPs in other villages, divisions, and regions of Cameroon. By so doing, the advocacy and socialisation roles of the group have dropped drastically.” He narrated.
Kum Nji Desmond:
Kum is another leader with visual Impairment who has been hit by the prevailing Crisis. The University of Bamenda Law Student unequivocally pointed out that he had neither seen, talked nor heard any news of his parents in Esu for the past two years. Esu is a village in Fungong Subdivision, Menchum Division of the Northwest region; an area Kum said has been a war theatre between government forces and Ambazonia fighters.
“I have not received any financial support from my parents and have been unable to pay my fees and house rent. In fact, as a final year student, how I will complete my studies remains in the hands of God,” he cried out to the Atlantic Chronicles.
About the Association of Persons With Disabilities in the University Bamenda, President Kum Nji Desmond revealed that members are unable to attend meetings due to fear of the socio-political upheavals in the region.
“Owing to the economic hardship brought about by the Crisis, I have tabled petitions to the University hierarchy to provide members of our association with braille papers and other didactic materials,” the leader noted.
Over 61 persons with disabilities have been killed in the course of the crisis, said Chick Sama, President of Anglophone Cameroon’s Coordinating Unit of Associations of Persons With Disabilities (CUAPWD).
Mr. Sama equally told The Stich Magazine that scores of PWDs have been injured, and hundreds of others displaced as the crisis persists.
Despite the numerous challenges recorded this far, Ngong Peter Tonain and Kum Nji Desmond are upbeat that the invincible hand of God shall strike very soon and put smiles on the faces of PWDs, whom they consider oppressed.