SODEI visits Little Learners, a school for underprivileged kids located in Mutengene Southwest Region, Cameroon. Little Learners was founded on passion and the love to serve and care for the underprivileged in the society.
We met the founder who also hails from a similar background; she was raised by a single mother due to passing of her father at a tender age. She grew up with the determination to secure a good livelihood for herself and a family which is why she is passionate about educating children who find themselves in similar desperate circumstances. The founder who doubles as a nurse and teacher,decided to blend both skills to be able to care for and educate these little learners. She set up a small medicine stall from which she gets finances to run the school.
The school is running on very limited financial resources. The medicine stall is unable to cover the cost for rent for the school premises, payment of teachers, providing learning materials, food and basic needs for the children. Some of the children who have lost all family members use the school as shelters. The school receives no public funding; yet the number of children with the need for living spaces has been on the rise as a result of the civil unrest in the area.
It was a traumatic experience for the SODEI team members who could not hold back tears listening to the stories of these little ones. Their stories were heart-wrenching, majority of them being orphaned, living with a relative or foster parent. They range from abandonment, loss of parents and displacement as a result of the crisis. Amidst the hardship these kids display unimaginable resilience. They manage to be in good spirits and excited at the opportunity to learn.
Most of the children are orphaned or abandoned by parents and living with relatives or well-wishers.
Little Favour is 6 years old, orphaned from birth and nursed by her aunt. Unfortunately, her aunt died during the crisis leaving her on her own. Little Learners managed to provide he a temporary accommodation hoping one day a good Samaritan will take over the responsibility. She needs love, care, shelter and support with her education.
Audrey is orphaned and living with her grandmother who works with the Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) Tiko Banana farms. Unfortunately, as a result of the crisis, work has been suspended leading to loss of salary. They both urgently need help for subsistence and for Audrey to be able to pursue her education. Many other kids in Little Learners suffer the same fate as Audrey. Parents who use to work with the CDC have been badly affected by the crisis. All of them have lost their jobs and source of income as a result of the suspension of work in the banana, rubber and palm plantations.
Faith is 9 years old and the eldest of three who lost both parents. They are raised by their grandmother who struggles to make ends meet for the entire family. Faith loves to go to school, she believes with an education she will be able to secure a better future for herself and siblings. She needs help to be able to pursue this dream.
Among the stories is one of displacement. Anabel and her parents are IDPs. They ran from a village called Kwa-Kwa where they lost everything. Michael’sparents died in Ekona as a result of the crisis, he moved to Mutengene with his sister and they have both been out of school for two years. Wisdom and siblings left Ekona where they lost their house to fire as a result of the crisis.
The stories of Destiny and Richly is that of disability and lack of proper care. Destiny is 9 years old and visually impaired, she can’t see clearly. Her parents cannot afford the means to take her to a specialist for consultation and treatment. At this tender age, attention needs to be paid to her condition before it becomes worse.
Richly is crippled from birth. He lives with the mother after being abandoned by the dad. He has difficulty walking to and from school and finds it difficult to be active amongst peers because of the lack of proper disability friendly facilities.
At SODEI we strongly believe in the importance of access to education in all circumstances including in times of conflict. We believe education is the strongest weapon to break the cycle of poverty.