All posts by wp_sodei

SODEI Opens Tech Hub – Helping Limbe Youth and Local Businesses Re-imagine Entrepreneurship for the Digital Economy

It is a no-brainer that small and medium-sized businesses – the ones starting out as ideas in the fertile minds of hard-working, creative entrepreneurs, are the backbone of the Cameroonian economy and the primary source of job growth and economic resilience in the 21st century.

With that school of thought and understanding that the waters of entrepreneurship can be choppy at times, SODEI recently announced an initiative involving young Cameroonians to grow, compete and transform in the digital economy by launching its TechHub in Limbe. As part of SODEI’s ongoing commitment to the community, the NGO aims to bring youth closer to startups, academia, civil society organizations, business and public sector. The Hub aims to inspire, educate and propel young Cameroonians from underserved and underrepresented communities to excel in information technology. The program will promote collision, connection, cross-pollination, collaboration and community with a supportive culture of innovation, inclusion and diversity. This new division will complement the core services provided by SODEI and offer an exclusive platform for youth.

The kick-off event was a huge success at SODEI’s office in Bota Middle Farms on Saturday June 20, 2020. Opening its doors in Bota Middle Farms, the launch included a tour of the multi-purpose facility, question and answer session, and a presentation on SODEI programs – Youth Mentoring and Leadership, Young Women and Girls’ Empowerment, Learn, Speak and Play (LESPLAY) for Children.
“As we formulate our 2020-25 Strategic Plan and head into a new normal while continuing with our mission to serve youth, facilitating entrepreneurs from idea to traction, teaming them up with premier startups is a major step forward,”– said Gilbert Ajebe, CEO of SODEI.

While, SODEI is inspired by its commitment to push young people into discovering their talents, abilities, opportunities through an innovative approach to education, the Hub is designed for target audience to work side-by-side within the sector to co-innovate by ideating, speedily prototyping and then scaling new products and services. SODEI starts with youth at the heart of every challenge, and aims to engage local and global teams of practitioners and ecosystem partners to leverage the power of innovative and emerging technologies to foster inclusive innovation — giving under-represented individuals the opportunity to participate in digital-economy.

SODEI’s Tech Hub will connect Cameroonian youth and organizations that operate without dedicated technical staff or team to vetted local experts to work on their digital/innovation projects. It will give entrepreneurs, IT labs, startups, school and universities, and support structures a platform that supports and accelerates the development of deep tech. It does also encourage partnerships in order to accelerate the development of new technological solutions by connecting actors in STEM with experienced entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations. Fostering the creation of new strategic sectors to inspire collaboration between different industries and combining different fields of technology to combat issues is another benefit of the program.

SODEI is situated at Fako Bakery Building, Bota Middle farms Limbe. We are a registered Non-Profit Organization (NPO) which was founded in November 2018 in the wake of the conflict in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon and the devasting impact on the welfare and education of children and young persons within the region. We are registered as a charity in the UK and have sections in Cameroon and Norway. Most of our operations are currently run mainly in the Southwest Region of Cameroon, with the intention of expanding to other regions progressively.

Click Here To Learn More About SODEI – Solidarity & Development Initiative

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2020 Celebrated Under the Theme: It’s Time for Action

Yes, it is indeed time for action. Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) has been celebrated every year since May 28, 2014 all over the world. The need for the recognition of this day was as a result of the acknowledgement that women and girls in some parts of the world go through dreadful situations and are not able to live their menstruation periods in proper hygiene and dignity, for an occurrence so natural that every woman has to experience this for a large part of her life. Celebrating MH Day creates awareness and is aimed mainly at breaking stereotypes and taboos surrounding menstruation or periods. It has been a challenge for young girls especially in developing countries to cope with periods coupled with the stigma and ancient beliefs surrounding this natural and unstoppable circumstance.

Despite the pandemic which has disrupted our lives and even slowed down our economies, we still celebrate MH Day. Periods do not stop for young girls and women and definitely not because of a pandemic. Instead, it serves to create challenges for some who already had difficulties accessing proper hygiene products for their periods. This Pandemic is affecting the whole world and there is a very great tendency that other important issues will be neglected, and all efforts advanced towards the management and end of the pandemic. While this is not inherently problematic and we at SODEI support the efforts of all those involved in making our world safe again, we will not neglect issues which are important to us and our mission.

For this year’s celebration of MH Day, we want to illustrate the link between Menstrual Hygiene and The SDGs.

Menstruation is normal vaginal bleeding which occurs as part of a woman’s monthly cycle. Unfortunately, stereotypes regarding this perfectly natural happening, as observed in most societies evoke attitudes of intolerance, notions of uncleanliness and treatments of shame associated to the experience of Menstruation which is an important aspect of women’s health. It is often said that “Health is wealth”, and it goes without saying that women’s menstruation under hygienic conditions is an essential condition for their development and good health. (SDG 3)

Ensuring healthy menstruation conditions definitely contributes to healthy, productive girls in a progressive society. When girls are comfortable during their periods, they are free from the inhibitions and constraints of fearing judgement. They can rise above the biases and be more productive thereby positively impacting their society. (SDGs 4 and 5)

Healthy menstrual hygiene = quality education. Due to lack of access to appropriate feminine hygiene products causes some women and girls have to be absent from work/school which directly or indirectly affects economic growth. Consequently, the gender inequality gap is widened and perpetuated. (SDG 5)

Healthy menstrual hygiene = good health and well-being. The availability of good quality menstrual products prevents urinary tract infections, painful periods, itches among others. Thereby ensuring the right to health for young girls and women. (SDGs 1, 3 and 6)

Healthy menstruation practices equally highlight the need to ensure access to clean water and sanitation. Educating women on healthy menstrual hygiene provides useful information on the disposal of used sanitary pads which in turn educates on the need to keep water bodies and other surroundings clean and safe. As a result, we will have sustainable cities, the preservation of life on land and responsible resource consumption will be encouraged. (SDGs 6 and 11)

The importance of observing a healthy and objective attitude towards menstruation cannot be overstressed. As a society, we have to move forward by dropping the perspectives which no longer serve us. Every young girl deserves to grow free from the preconceived notions surrounding a natural phenomenon such as menstruation. It is time for action.

#MHD2020 #ItsTimeForAction

Interview with SODEI Founder and Executive Director Gilbert Ajebe Akame on the New SARS 2/COVID-19

The world is currently gripped by a pandemic of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), an infectious disease that was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of China’s Hubei province. The pandemic has caused major disruptions around the world and we at SODEI are no different. We thought it necessary as an organization to join the world in the fight to stop the spread of the disease. So far, we have been involved in sensitization campaigns and creating awareness on the spread of the disease and measures of prevention. In addition, our organisation’s strategy involves continuing to organize limited sessions with young people with a focus on awareness about the virus, measures of prevention and mental health issues. SODEI’s communication Associate Nicole Mbiatem decided to interview the head of the organization to throw more light on the health crisis and the organization’s strategy.

Question: How has coronavirus affected SODEI as an organization?

It is a great opportunity to make a statement as the leader of an organization working for the interest of young people. Despite not being a medical expert, I believe it is important to put all hands on deck to raise awareness against the spread of the new coronavirus. As a budding organization, the COVID-19 outbreak has slowed down our momentum. Some of the work we do like the LESPLAY project involves organizing sessions with children every weekend. This is no longer the case as the sessions have been curtailed and the number of children attending has understandably reduced. Having few sessions rather than a complete halt is our own way to be part of the #LearningNeverStops campaign. Some of these children would still find themselves in crowded places and other places where social distancing isn’t respected regardless. Why not provide them instead with an opportunity to learn about COVID-19 and preventive measures? On the bright side, we also use this period as an opportunity for reflection. We continue to work behind the scenes, from our home offices to ensure that good systems and structures are in place. Together with the Program and Development heads, we are working on different policy documents and exploring ideas for funding. Hopefully, we will come out of this situation a stronger, well-established and professional organization.

Question: What is your understanding are the measures that have been taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus?

We align ourselves with the Cameroon government’s preparedness and response strategy which include six core areas:

  • Massive and generalized testing
  • Immediate treatment of cases
  • Active surveillance of suspected cases
  • Emphasis on awareness about hygiene, social distancing, etc.
  • Border control
  • Encouraging reliable local expertise for a response.

In line with this strategy, the government on March 17 announced 13 measures to contain the spread of the virus including:

  1. The closure of all public and private training establishments of the various levels of education, from nursery school to higher education, including vocational training centres and professional schools
  2. Restriction of gatherings of more than fifty (50) persons
  3. Closure of restaurants and entertainment spots from 6 p.m.
  4. Regulation of consumer flows in markets and shopping centres
  5. The postponement of school and university competitions, like the FENASSCO and University games, etc.

As a follow-up, the government on the April 9, issued 7 additional measures which include:

  1. The wearing of facemasks in all open public spaces
  2. The local production of protective masks, medicines, and sanitizers
  3. The establishment of specialized treatment centres in all regional capitals
  4. The intensification of COVID-19 screening campaign with emphasis on already affected areas
  5. The intensification of awareness-raising campaign in urban and rural areas
  6. The continuation of activities essential to the economy

I would like to highlight the importance of local remedies such as using immune-boosting products such as lemon-ginger-garlic tonics and other natural remedies we have relied upon in the past to fight the common cold. These products with their vitamin c and anti-inflammatory benefits have been very much talked about to be helpful in slowing down the effects of the virus in the human body. However, this does not in any way circumvent the preventive measures in place, as there currently is no proven cure or vaccine against the virus.

I am particularly impressed by the daily and weekly social media outings by the Minister of Health and the Prime Minister aimed at updating on new developments, stats on new cases identified and sensitizing the public on the need for personal responsibility and adherence to the preventive measures in place. I recommend every young person to follow the official twitter of the Minister of Health @DrManaouda. However, I would also love to see the minister of health delegate other health experts in the ministry of health to do the daily updates while his administration focuses more on strategy.


What additional measures do you think can be taken by the Government of Cameroon to prevent the spread of this virus?

I personally believe the strategies as outlined above, if accompanied by effective measures of implementation, citizen responsibility and additional government support in the form of an emergency package to the most-at-risk communities will help slowing down the spread and eventually flattening the curve. Note that the active surveillance of cases or enhanced contact tracing measure is similar to what other African countries such as Ghana have adopted, which is explained as the reason for the spike in case count. Such measures including generalized testing where the means are available, have been identified as the most effective way of containing and avoiding the spread of the virus.

You must have noticed the calls on the social media for a lockdown – some suggesting a nation-wide lockdown while others call for the lockdown of the main urban cities with the most cases, including Yaounde, Douala and Baffoussam. I believe to completely lockdown a country’s major urban and commercial cities, is a serious undertaking especially if the country doesn’t have robust social security to rely on. Some African countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Mali and South Africa have imposed varied lockdown measures. Kenya, for example, has imposed nation-wide curfew limited to time – between 7 pm to 5 am daily, others like Nigeria have resorted to partial lockdown which applies only to some parts of the country countries specifically in urban cities; meanwhile, South Africa has imposed a total lockdown. Cameroon’s 6 pm curfew which applies to restaurants and entertainment spots could be said to be limited in scope. I believe at this point we can observe how lockdowns are unfolding in these African countries and apply lessons learnt in our context.

The potential challenges for imposing a lockdown include, on the one hand how lockdowns are implemented and received by the people, and on the other hand what happens to the economy. We have already observed how in some countries people are not keen to respect lockdowns and are being chased around by the police. The potential economic repercussions in African countries have already been indicated by international financial institutions. To impose a lockdown in Cameroon will mean many will go without their daily incomes. Many families who rely on informal employment will be unable to feed themselves on a day to day basis if a total or partial lockdown is imposed. This is a major challenge. I believe if the measures already in place including the restrictions on large gatherings, control of flows in markets, the use of face masks, etc, are properly implemented and yielding good results, there wouldn’t be a need for a major lockdown.

SODEI organized an informative event in Limbe on March 28, 2020. What was the motive for the event?

On March 28 we organized a session with our LESPLAY project participants to raise awareness on the existence of the virus and preventive measures. Our volunteer facilitators taught young participants on basic hand hygiene, wearing of masks, social distancing and other preventive measures. They also provided hand sanitizers for participants to take home. More importantly, young participants were taught on how to produce face masks using affordable local products. We organized a similar activity on April 11, emphasizing on the proper usage of face masks and the various types available. And on April 23 our volunteers went out on a door to door sensitization campaign educating residents of Limbe Camp on how the virus is spread and measures of prevention. Our intention is to use our modest means to sensitize young people and continue playing an active role as a youth organization.

Can you tell us more about the #LearningNeverStops Campaign and how SODEI is implicated?

#LearningNeverStops is a campaign launched by UNESCO as a response to COVID-19 and the disruptive effects on education. Most governments around the world have temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19. According to UNESCO, these closures have impacted over 90% of the world’s student population with those from under-privileged backgrounds with fewer educational opportunities beyond school being hit the most. The #LearningNeverStops campaign is part of UNESCO’s response to support countries in their efforts to mitigate the immediate impact of school closures, particularly for more vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, and to facilitate the continuity of education for all through remote learning. Our approach is guided by this philosophy. While we are at the forefront of the campaign of sensitization in our community, we are equally interested in continuous-play and learning opportunities for young people during the period of shutdown. Amidst the fear and uncertainty young people still have the desire to play and learn. We find the need to continue engaging young people, taking into considerations all the preventive measures and guidelines recommended by the government.

What last advice can you give to young people out there about the pandemic?

I will advise everyone out there to take the virus seriously and follow the measures put in place by the government. It is no longer news today that the virus is real and affects everyone regardless of race, colour, age or social status. Yes, it has been established that the virus can have more severe consequences to older people and people with existing medical conditions. Yet we have also heard and seen fatalities in young people though in a tiny minority. I will advise young people to stay at home as much as possible and avoid crowded places. And if they have to step out, they should make proper use of face masks, to wear a face mask to prevent infection rather than for fear of the police.

Covid19: Cameroonians Defy Measures Laid Down by the Government.

Cameroonians continue to flout most of the preventive measures put in place by the government against the novel coronavirus. Many say if these measures are not scrupulously respected, the number of positive cases will increase rapidly.

The Government of Cameroon through its Prime Minister Chief/Dr. Dion Ngute initially outlined some thirteen measures Cameroonians should follow. Amongst the measures is the banning of gathering of not more than fifty people; the closing of its land, air and sea borders; shutting down of schools and the practice of good hygiene. On April 9, additional measures were put in place amongst which include the obligatory use of facemasks in public places. However, implementing these measures particularly with respect to social distancing has been a major challenge. As of April 19, 2020, Cameroon has recorded more than 1000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 43 confirmed deaths and 350 recovered as per WHO and the Cameroon Ministry of Health sources[i].

Moving along the streets of Buea, one would question the strict respect of the government’s measures. While some are adhering to the social distancing measure, others are not. You can find people gathered in small groups but not far from each other. Some even go to the extent of shaking hands with their friends, a culture that is now on hold in every part of the world. Children can be found along the streets, the mile 17 motor park and in markets hawking or selling various products. This is a matter of grave concern as most of these children don’t even wear face coverings, exposing themselves, their families and communities to the danger contracting the virus.

To make sure that the population respect the measures, the government implemented a fine for those found in public places without masks. One would say this has encouraged compliance to an extent, but the vast majority especially young people can still be seen without masks or having the mask as neck scarfs rather than for protection against the virus. One person I spoke to in Buea intimated that people wear face masks for fear of the police rather than for protection against COVID-19.

It is hoped that these latest, more coercive measures taken by administrative authorities with accompanying fines, would help limit the spread. So far only a few cases have been recorded in the southwest region of Cameroon. It is hoped that the Cameroon government’s measures would lead to a flattening of the curve sooner or later and avoid a catastrophic outcome like what some European countries are currently experiencing. The government’s strategy revolves around the ‘five-weapons-approach’: social distancing, contact tracing, testing, isolation, and treatment highly recommended by experienced epidemiologist and public health experts[ii] and adopted by countries like South Korea who have recorded a degree of success in the fight against COVID-19. However, questions remain as to the availability of resources to effectively implement this strategy.

References

[i] African countries move from COVID-19 readiness to response as many confirm cases

[ii] It’s Not Too Late to Go on Offense Against the Coronavirus

Covid-19, School Shut-Down And Indoor Activities For Young People

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19), recently declared a pandemic by the WHO has caused panic and death around the world. Many countries have adopted measures including the shutting down of schools, restrictions of large gatherings, etc. The government of Cameroon on March 17 announced measures to contain the spread of the virus including:

  • The closure of all public and private training establishments of the various levels of education, from nursery school to higher education, including vocational training centres and professional schools;
  • Restriction of gatherings of more than fifty (50) persons;
  • Closure of restaurants and entertainment spots from 6 p.m.;
  • Regulation of consumer flows in markets and shopping centers;
  • The postponement of school and university competitions, like the FENASSCO and University games, etc.

While we applaud the measures put in place by the government, we believe what is more important is how effective they are implemented. There have been reports of people still gathering in large crowds of more than 50, of continuous unregulated flows into markets and shopping centres and of some entertainment spots including bars still operating after 6 p.m. This raises a question about the effectiveness of children being taken out of school only to find themselves in places more crowded than their classrooms. It wouldn’t be surprising to see that during such period many children will be called upon to help their parents, relatives or guardians to hawk in crowded markets.

The shutting down of schools throughout the national territory means millions of school pupils and students are forced to stay at home. Young people in the Anglophone regions have already suffered the effect of school shutdown for the past 4 years as a result of conflict ravaging the regions. The current coronavirus pandemic only exacerbates the impact on young people within these regions. Out of school without access to other forms of education can often prove counterproductive for young people of school going age, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds. In such circumstances young people suffer the risk of exploitation, unwanted pregnancies, loss of opportunities, etc.

UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay stated that “The global scale and speed of the current educational disruption is unparalleled and, if prolonged, could threaten the right to education,” The agency said the effects could include:

  • Interrupted learning: When schools close, children and youth are deprived of opportunities for growth and development. Under-privileged learners with fewer educational opportunities beyond school are the hardest hit.
  • Nutrition: Many students rely on free or discounted meals provided at schools for food and healthy nutrition.
  • Dropout rates: It is a challenge to ensure children and youth return and stay in school when schools reopen after closures. Dropout rates rise in protracted closures.

While some institutions in advanced countries are putting in place measures to minimise the impact of the school shutdown, which include distance learning, children in many parts of the world would have to stay home without any possibility of learning. Most children around the world don’t have access to internet. In Cameroon, for example, most young people don’t have computers at home nor access to the internet. In recent days frequent power outages in major cities around the country including within the southwest region have left many going without power supply for days. This not only undermines any possibility of home-schooling for young people but equally makes their stay at home boring. We would like to call on the attention of the authorities concerned to do something to ensure that the power situation is adjusted sooner than later.

While we at SODEI are leading a campaign of sensitization on the coronavirus, we are equally interested in continuous play and learning opportunities for young people during the period of shutdown. Amidst the fear and uncertainty young people still have the need to play and learn. Children despite the circumstances still need to play.

Children can continue to engage in productive activities at home with their parents. Aside from helping them with their actual schoolwork, parents should consider involving children in household activities such as cooking, house chores, etc, in ways that are fun. If possible, children can be engaged in some form of craftwork including beading, knitting, sewing, etc. However, attention should be given to children’s need to play and have fun. Play with family members can be very useful during this time and provides an opportunity for family bonding.

Keeping in mind the regulations and guidelines recommended by the government on public spaces during this period, at SODEI we offer a variety of indoor activities for children. Our LESPLAY program components include a variety of activities to wit: creative arts (painting, photography, drawing and sketching); acting (drama/role play, debate and public speaking); games (chess, puzzle, scramble). We will continue to do our best to ensure that children enjoy their childhood despite the circumstances and take measures to safeguard our young ones and educate them on precautions to be taken to avoid the Coronavirus.

SODEI And Contra Nocendi Submit Joint Submission On The Rights Of The Child In Cameroon

In response to the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights call for civil society views on children’s rights and the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, SODEI and Contra Nocendi International have collaborated on a joint submission on the rights of the child in Cameroon. Our joint submission focused on Cameroon’s implementation of a child rights approach to sustainable development with a focus on SDGs 4 and 16. While SODEI and CNI have been collaborating, this is a first joint submission together and it was a very important issue that we tackled.

Under sustainable development goal 4 (SDG 4) we highlighted some of the challenges to the realization of an inclusive and equitable quality education including the continuous inequality in school enrolment rates between boys and girls. We also highlighted the challenges in achieving sustainable development goal 16 (SDG 16) as a result of the violence against children in the conflict-affected North-west and Southwest regions; children victims of crimes including violence at home and public spaces; and children in conflict with the law;

In relation to the impact of the conflicts in Cameroon on the rights of children, our joint submission pointed out that “[c]hildren in Cameroon continue to live in situations of violence affecting their access to quality education. Insecurity in the Extreme North region resulting from the activities of Boko haram and the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest regions has had a tremendous impact on access to education. Children in the Northwest and Southwest regions have been forcefully deprived access to schools; Heightened infringement of children’s rights to education, safety and security in the context of the conflict have been reported.

International bodies such as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have estimated that up to 80% of schools in the southwest and northwest regions have been closed affecting more than 600,000 children”, Indeed, we are seeing children being deprived of their right to education either indirectly through the conflict or directly through combats making schools the object of an attack, which is clearly in breach of international humanitarian law.

SODEI and Contra Nocendi International continue to monitor the situation and will be collaborating further on SDG 4 and SDG 16. It is clear that more must be done to ensure access to education and the protection of children in conflict situations in Cameroon.

SODEI International Women’s Day Event In Limbe, Cameroon

Solidarity Development Initiative (SODEI) joined the rest of the world to commemorate the International Women’s Day celebrated this year under the theme “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”. On March 7th 2020, SODEI organized an event to celebrate this day in Limbe, Cameroon with a theme of its own entitled “Overcoming Generational Inequalities” to support the original theme of this year’s celebrations. The event was attended by women, girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 36.

The focus of the day’s event was to understand the ways of overcoming generational inequalities which negatively affect women and girls, and the various accompanying types of violence they face in society. The event which was fashioned as a lesson was accomplished in four interactive phases which gave participants the opportunity to grasp new information and be able to express what they learned by asking questions and sharing experiences.

 

To initiate discussions, the reason and importance of the celebration of women’s day were examined to give participants perspective of the day’s event. Susan Maloba, SODEI’s Program Manager expressed the significance of this day for women to seize the opportunities available to them and continue to be a positive force for development in their families, communities and nations. As she reiterated “The time for women to take initiative and be proactive is now”.

The second phase brought discussions on the key areas which affect women and girl’s rights and opportunities. One of the main issues that affect women in Cameroonian society like everywhere else is Violence against Women, which participants learned went beyond physical violence suffered by women in domestic milieus, but included systems which have been established to ensure that women are limited in the goals and objectives they can achieve and stay subject to menfolk in the society.

This year’s international women’s day theme: “I am generation equality; Realizing women’s rights” it was said, seeks to explain that, the people responsible for the change in women’s circumstances is not the government or an individual, but it is the society as a whole which has to put an end to every form of disrespect, discrimination and violence on women and give women an equal opportunity to participate in sustainable development.

The third phase of the program was crucial and meaningful because participants learnt the areas in which women’s participation should be encouraged. Governing, career orientation, subsidized large scale farming projects, education, academics, business, information and technology were identified as the main areas where Cameroonian women and girls should benefit from more opportunities if we were to achieve “Generation Equality”. Ayuk Tataw Emilie, one of SODEI’s Program Coordinators, emphasized the importance of women’s day celebrations because they serve to throw more light on the different areas in which women should be empowered that remain very much unexploited.

The fourth phase was a very vital part of the whole session as it was the most interactive part. Participants expressed the lessons they had learned from the discussions and a commitment to apply them in their day-to-day lives. Of these lessons the most important retained were first that women and men, boys and girls are equal and should be treated equally. Secondly, it is our collective responsibility to make sure women and girls are not disrespected, discriminated on or undergo any prejudice based on their identity as such. Thirdly and most importantly, if we are to live peacefully in a society, we have to ensure that the systems that serve to undermine women and their importance in society are dismantled and we can all live like equal citizens and members of our society, enjoying opportunities and contributing to the development of our nation on equal footing.

In the light of these discussions, the participation and outcome, the event was a very successful one and passed on a very important message about International Women’s Day in conjunction with its importance to women and girls in Cameroon. This successful session was planned and coordinated by SODEI’s dedicated volunteers and members of Staff, Susan Maloba, Ayuk Tataw Emilie and Nicole Mbiatem on behalf of SODEI, Cameroon. The parting affirmation for the day was “We are women, we are unique, we are strong!”

Interview with Ruth Tebah – Creative Arts Coordinator for SODEI’s LESPLAY Project

SODEI’s Comms Associate Tataw Ayuk Emilie, caught up with Ruth at her desk at the Limbe Middle Farms Office and Community Centre location, to find out more about her passion for creative arts and her work with children and young people.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Tebah Ruth Enjoh but to my family and friends, I am Raël. I am 19 years old and I obtained my Advanced Level GCE certificate last year. I was the Art president and social personnel of the student administration of Government High School Limbe, where I studied the S3 (Biology, Chemistry & Mathematics) series in science. I live in Limbe, a city in the Southwest region of Cameroon.

You are the Creative Arts Coordinator for SODEI, how did you learn about the organisation?

My aunt told me about an art seminar that she wanted me to attend in November so I was really excited about it because she said I will learn a lot from there. One day towards the end of October 2019, she came to my house and said dress up and let’s go we are meeting those people today so I dressed up and we then left. But when I arrived, I saw it was not a seminar but a meeting for the preparation of the LESPLAY project. From that moment, I became a part of SODEI. I was happy because I saw an opportunity to be useful, to exercise and better my artistic skills. I was really looking forward to be part of SODEI and God answered my prayers when I was given the opportunity to handle the creative art department of LESPLAY a SODEI project.

What impresses you the most about the organisation?

What I like about SODEI is that they give everybody a chance to improve and they help people out by inspiring them in every way they can, not to give up.

How did you discover your artistic skills?

When I was 7years old the teacher would often give us drawing assignments to do at home. So when she first gave the assignment which was to draw a car and name its parts, we were to use the weekend for that so I did not really believe I could do it until when I finally took the courage to draw so I will not be punished then I realized that I could actually draw so when I came to class the teacher congratulated me. From then on for the other assignments she gave she would use my drawing to explain things in class and other students would ask me many times to draw for them.

Arts seems to be a passion for you, what is the story behind your love for arts?

Well growing up for me was quite stressful because of some issues at home, so art was like a “Pain Killer” for me i.e. when I am hurt or angry, I will always draw to feel at ease or to calm down. So, then art became a part of me. Though many times my dad would beat me or shout at me for doing “NONSENSE” as he calls it did not stop me because I love arts a lot and it is who I am until now.

What are your dreams for the future?

Well I have 3 professions that I have been desiring in my heart and I must accomplish these desires by working as hard as I can. I want to be a Nutritionist, a renowned Fashion Designer and a well-known Artist everywhere.

What impact do you aim to create with your artistic talents?

I will make sure to reach out to as many children and young people as possible with a passion for arts so I can encourage and guide them so they don’t give up on their dreams or throw away their talents.

How is your relationship with SODEI and what do you intend to achieve working together?

I am the Creative Arts coordinator for SODEI and I believe that SODEI is the platform that will help me reach out to children and young people with love or passion for creative arts. So, I believe my working with SODEI is going to create impact in the lives of these people.

We are currently observing the 16 Days of Activism on violence against women (VAW), what do you make of this occasion? What is your take on the prevalence of VAW in society? How do you plan to use your work to combat VAW?

I think it is wonderful that we have not just one day as is the case with other international events, but 16 Days of Activism on VAW. I am very happy to discover the importance given to the fight against VAW. I also believe it is our duty to spread the message even further to the grassroots, to those spaces where VAW is even more prevalent and yet with limited awareness.

Well I plan by showing my expression and how I feel about VAW through creative arts and make people understand the pain and suffering women and girls go through. Arts is one of the best ways to communicate some of the things we have difficulties explaining, traumatic experiences for example.

So, with this in mind, since SODEI is currently observing the 16days activism, during my next session, I plan teaching the children about VAW and then letting them to express their own views about it through drawing and sketching, and this will be complied and documented into narratives of VAW.

The gallery was not found!

LESPLAY Creative Arts Session December, 7 2019: Focus on Gender-based Violence and Bullying in and out of School Milieus

Today’s LESPLAY Creative Arts session was organized and conducted by our creative and dedicated trio, Justin Ndomi, Tataw Ayuk Emilie and Ruth Tebah.

Emilie who is our Communications Associate enlightened our young participants on the basic definitions of gender and gender-based violence (GBV), with specific emphasis on psychological violence and bullying prevalent among school children in and out of school milieus.

The session was organized in consonance with the ongoing 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. In the next session, our volunteer team will continue to teach the young participants about Violence Against Women (VAW), the effects of violence against women, the importance of bringing this unfortunate and harmful practice to and end and the responsibility involved at all levels of our society.

Most importantly, the young participants are going to be learning their role in the realization of the curbing and ending of GBV. At the end they will be tasked to express their own views about VAW through drawing and sketching. This will then be complied and documented into their narratives of VAW.

Stop Violence against Women (VAW) SODEI’s Basic Lexicon

What is Violence Against Women?

Violence against women (VAW), also known as gender-based violence are violent acts whose victims are primarily or exclusively women or girls. It is any act that aims to take advantage of a perceived weakness and incapacity that has been attributed to women and girls.

Why is VAW bad?

It is bad because it inflicts deep physical and psychological wounds and it is committed against women or girls specifically because they are female. VAW can take many forms. It can be physical, psychological, mental, and even social and economic.

Who commits VAW?

Men and women alike could be responsible for VAW. Unfortunately, most cultures and traditions encourage discriminatory practices against women which is why acts which constitute violence against women have persisted for so long.

What are the effects of VAW?

Because of the difference between men and women and the traditional roles assigned to them, violent acts affect women and girls differently and consequently weaken the society.

Who is responsible for ending VAW?

We all are: Men, women, boys and girls. Women and girls deserve equal opportunities to achieve their full potential and live a life free from all forms of discrimination so that they can participate in all aspects as equal members of society.

Why is it important to stop Violence against women?

Violence against women and girls hampers not only the personal development of the victims but adversely affects the development of a society as a whole. No society will progress if half of or a considerable portion of its population faces discrimination.

What can we do?

Acknowledge our differences but respect our equality. Treat each other with the respect and dignity which we deserve as human beings. It is the responsibility of each one of us to make the world we live in a better one.

The United nations has declared November 25th the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and for the 16 days following this day, an international annual campaign of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is carried out.

The official color of this Campaign is Orange. The He for She campaign is another campaign which invites men and women alike to stand in solidarity with women and girls to create a world where we are all equal. Let us Orange the World. The change begins with every one of us.