By Andrew Nsoseka
Some 25 internally displaced women and girls, currently living in Southwest’s Regional Headquarters, Buea, have been given an opportunity to receive a one year practical training in fashion designing, sewing and hair dressing by the Centre for Youth and Family Empowerment, CEYOFE, in partnership with its associates, under the project ‘EmpowerHER’.
In an event that brought together women and gender advocates in Buea on Friday January 18, the 25 beneficiaries of the one year long training programme expressed gratitude to CEYOFE and partners, for aiding them make the best out of their unfortunate situation brought about by the Anglophone crisis with its untold suffering brought upon the vulnerable in the society.
In her speech, Mrs Eteki Stella Dopgima, CEO of the Centre for Youth and Family Empowerment, CEYOFE, stated that project is one that that makes her happy in a special way “since it touches on a subject dear personally to my heart, that is the empowerment of 25 internally displaced women and girls”.
She outlined that due to the socio-political instability going on for about two years in the Northwest and Southwest Regions, there has been devastating consequences on the population. She furthered that “in the Southwest Region, this Anglophone crisis has recorded massive socio-economic damages. Women and children have taken refuge in the bushes living under very deplorable conditions, surviving on very little food and healthcare. The overall health situation in the region has degraded.” Mrs Eteki said.
She quoted health reports from the Southwest Regional Delegation of Health, to the effect that there has been an increase in mortality and morbidity rates resulting from either direct influence of violence or failure of the health system.
She also pointed out that due to insecurity, some people are fleeing into bushes where they have limited access to clean water and good sanitation and are thus exposed to environmental hazards.
“Women caught in this situation have resorted to using plants as sanitary pads for example. They are even more exposed to rape, sexual harassment and other forms of Gender Based Violence (GBV) which is likely to result to an increase in STIs, HIV/AIDS and unwanted pregnancies.
“Children are not left out as in the course of this crisis, they are likely to suffer and die from malnutrition. The inability to carry out routine check-ups and vaccination is causing a nosedive in key health indicators.”
Mrs Eteki after pointing out the adverse effects and challenges brought about by the crisis, stated that she and her NGO, decided to embark on the project, so as to empower the selected women and girls so as to discourage financial dependency which exposes girls and women to people who take advantage of their situation to victimise them.
She urged them to use the one year programme to work hard make a living from the gained skills and understand the satisfaction that comes with being able to provide for others, rather than being on the receiving end.
In her remark during the event, the Southwest Regional Delegate of Women Empowerment and the Family, Mrs Moffah Juditha, stated that she is approaching retirement as a fulfilled woman because she is leaving behind a lot of dynamic women in the likes of Mrs Eteki Stella.
Dr/Mrs Titanji lauded the project stating that Mrs Eteki does not only encourage and empower the youths, but also encourages the elderly not to relapse in their empowerment duties. To participants and peers, she told them that “We rise by raising others and until you raise others, you have not risen.”
Mrs Titanji assured the beneficiaries of EmpowerHER project that as they learn their sewing, fashion designing and hair dressing, they will also be taught ways to make money out of their handwork.
On behalf of the beneficiaries of the project, Madam Emelia Itale, an IDP from Konye, thanked the brains behind the project, stating that some of them, IDPs, have lost their homes and what they made a living from, due to the crisis and have wondered about for one year with nothing to do, and as such will welcome an opportunity to learn a trade from which they can be able to provide their daily needs. She intoned a song, titled; “It is never too late for a woman to start again” and was joined in singing by the host of women and girls present at the event.
The training of the 25 beneficiaries will be carried out in five training centres in Buea.