Reach Out, a Cameroonian Non-Governmental Organisation has trained some 326 students in some six secondary schools in the Buea Municipality to promote peace and social cohesion.
The info was made known in Buea on Friday, March 10 during a ceremony the NGO organised to end the six-month project which aimed at “enhancing youths initiative for peace: empowering the next generation of peace advocates in Cameroon”
According to the project Manager, Nkongho Christy Ayuk, the initiative stemmed from a baseline study Reach Out conducted within some schools in Buea and found out that as a result of the war of separation in Cameroon’s English Speaking regions which has displaced hundreds of thousands, there was poor integration of IDP students within the school milieu and even in the host communities.
“There was poor social cohesion among the IDP students and the host students,” she said.
To her, the internally displaced students who came from different cultural backgrounds came with an attitude that was not accepted by others in school milieus. She said these students were so stigmatised. That prompted Reach Out to see a need to ensure that it helps in promoting and strengthening social cohesion and peacebuilding within these schools.
The project was able to create nine peace clubs in the schools through which it was able to train 326 young peacebuilders. The project Manager wishes to scale it up to other schools within and without the Buea Municipality.
In other countries, she said, there have been similar projects like this. To her, Reach Out learned from those projects “and saw the need to try it too in our community. Reach Out being one of the women-led organisations that is into peace-building within the context of the crisis, this project is an achievement for us” Said Nkongho Christy.
She however implored the schools present: GBHS Muea, St Theresia Secondary School, and GBHS Bokwango among others to take the peace initiative to their peers.
Egbe Emilia Claudia Ntui is a form five student from St Theresia Secondary School who has been trained to become a young peace builder. As a member of the peace club, Claudia Ntui said she was not at first convinced about the peace club when it was introduced in their school. But she joined after second thoughts and now is learning certain things which she said not only elders could do in the community.
“The project made me understand that peace is not only built maybe from the politicians but with all the citizens because if we unite, I believe that Cameroon would be a better country, especially for the way the nation is right now. Kids have been deprived of the opportunities of going to school but believe that if their fellow youths of the country can be enabled to understand that peace is all that we need and violence is not what we need in our society Cameroon would be better” she said.
She is in talks with her school authorities to enable her to take the peace messages to other schools because the majority of the youths are in schools.
At the one-day capitalisation event, the students presented poems, dramas, and dances tailored toward fostering peace in communities.
It was attended by school authorities, civil society activists, and religious authorities among others.
One of the civil society actors at the event was Dr. Beatrice Titanji. After watching stage drama and listening to poems, the woman of the year said she was impressed as she encouraged youths and women to yearn for peace in Cameroon.
“We seem to have failed in bringing the peace we seek. And I think that now targeting the young people assures us of a better future that we are on the right track and they are learning how to maintain peace which should be in their time” she said.