Hello again and greetings from Buea, Cameroon!
This week’s report is dedicated to presenting you with someof our Tole teen mother’s faces!
Our mothers love pictures, and what 20 year old does not? Tellme about it!
In an effort to make this portal a place where you canbecome more familiar with the community you are so amazingly impacting, I askedsome of our Tole Teen mother’s to pose for the lens of my camera, and sharewith you a little bit about their life stories!
I now present to you amazing smiles in action:
This beautiful woman you are about to see in picture # 1 is Shalord Ngong, She is21 years old, and her baby girl is 1 year old. Shalord dropped out of schoolwhen she was in fifth grade because her father, a local farmer, was not able tosponsor her studies. Left with no education and little known skills, she didnot know nor understand the responsibilities of becoming a woman. Left withoutsupervision lead her to get pregnant from a man who filled her with lovepromises but who now barely sends food for the baby. But, Shalord has discoveredthat life can actually smile to you, she is eager to go back to school andbecome a pediatrician down the line! You go Sharlord!
Emelda Ambouchou in picture #2 is also 21, but her story is a littledifferent. Beautiful Princess Lyra, herbaby was born 1 year and 10 months ago but was not able to meet her father. Hehad abandoned Emelda after finding out she was going to have a girl and not aboy. In Africa the stigmas of fathering a woman as your first child are widelypresent up to date. School for Emelda was sadly not one of her priorities, andafter failing to successfully complete her latest grade, she was vulnerable tothe unsupervised life abundant in these rural villages. However, there is something she is passionateabout and that is the use of computers and expanding her horizons. Emelda wantsto be part of an ICT program and see new cities outside of her village!
Finally, We have gorgeous Nadage Mbah in picture # 3, with only 19 years ofage, she is the mother of a 1 year old baby girl. Nadage and the baby’s fatherlive together, but this doesn’t mean her life is any less complicated.Currently, the mother and her child are facing serious malnutrition problemsand perhaps other complications due to the absence of food and the proper caregiving knowledge by both parents. Nadage is a work in process as we are workingon teaching her the importance of attending school. We hope she can continueher studies and perhaps become an entrepreneur in the tailoring business!
On other Updates:
We continue to make great progress in the minds and souls ofthis young community. Last week, the Teenage mothers of Tole joined our stuffin a Yoga session, which main purpose was to teach them the importance of a healthylife style and the benefits of caring for one’s body.
Our class was filled with laughs and satisfaction. Eventhough this was a whole new practice for all of them the response was exceptionaland contributed to the building of their group identity.
Infinite thanks for your support and please continue tospread the amazing changes happening in this devoted community for change!
Social Development International
As part of our program in empowering the Teenage mothers of Tole village, we wanted to cultivate a culture of respect, democracy, transparency and cooperation among these future entrepreneurs!
The best way to make such an accomplishment was by promoting democratic elections among the participants and electing their executive board which will be representing them before the different service centers in the south Division region of Cameroon.
When planning this activity our team was far from imaging the great impact of our intentions. As we entered the church hall where our meetings usually take place we encounter a group of: “ready to get their game on” young democrats!
Their response was exceptional and within a matter of minutes we had candidates for all positions.
As the voting progressed, we were allowed to get a better picture of how much this initiative means to them in an environment where the majority are not given the opportunity to participate in civic activities.
“Now that we are given the opportunity to manage the finances of the Tole teen mothers, we will take it as a challenge to manage the funds and welfare of our members”- Clara Amboki, Tole Teen mothers’ treasurer.
These weeks donations were outstanding! Let’s keep up our support in creating a brighter future for these young mothers!
Thanks to your invaluable support, our teen mothers of Tole are able to enjoy an atmosphere where they come together and learn the importance of caring for them and their children. Sensitizing them by providing them balance choice of refreshments and the appropriate resources to be part of these amazing changes
We are presently working with a group of 70 + young Women. Every week we have been able to recruit new participants through our emerging leaders! This is amazing!
Next week our teen mothers will join us in yoga and other exercises session. “Sport” as they called it is an important aspect at their age and an incentive to understand the benefits of a balance lifestyle.
Dear Friends and Donors,
This past Monday July 4, 2011, three of our staff members conducted a meeting at the Tole Presbyterian church where 40 teenage mothers came together with Social Development International staff. After a brief session of self-motivation lead by the singing of local songs, our participant mothers selected the common skills areas present amongst them. The result of this input was the formation of 5 different groups reflecting their envisage careers as follows:
Our next step on the agenda is for them to elect their group leaders in a democratic approach by conduction elections for the following positions:
President, vice-president, secretary general, financial secretary and treasurer.
With this initiative we hope to encourage them in the advocacy of their rights and the access to basic services within the country.
After being given a warm welcome by the staff, we sat down in their office to begin discussing their projects. Their GlobalGiving project consists of providing three types of education and training for teenage mothers. One type is to teach them how to take care of their child, another is to improve their self-image in the face of much discrimination and stigma and finally, the mothers are also given skills training to help them become self-supporting earners.
SDI was going to begin working with a new community: the village of Tole. As we became more curious about the teenage mothers that they work with, they decided to hand over a few information sheets that are filled in for each mother that they enroll in their program.
You know how sometimes you need a trigger for the real meaning of something to sink in? This was one of those moments for me.
The sheet had her name.
Her date of birth: December 21st, 1994. This makes her 16.
Is she still in school? If not, why? "Because she got pregnant." (Almost all girls drop out of school if they become pregnant).
Her child's date of birth: February of this year.
Does the child have any developmental or health problems? Yes.
Please explain here: "The child has passed away."
For a few minutes I could not really listen to the conversation going on. My eyes could not leave the sheet sitting in my lap, and my mind was fixated on the realities of this teenager.
Soon, we were on a bumpy and crowded car ride to Tole through a surreal scenery of tea plantations, fog and heavy rain. We arrived at the local church, where we were to meet about 20 of the teenage mothers they were to begin working with. Due to the heavy rain, only three showed up at first. They were chatty and lively; aged 18, 19, and 20, they all wanted to be hairdressers. One had actually already started her own salon a year ago! They each had one baby, ranging from 2 months to a year old. Hairdressing is actually a very lucrative business in Cameroon, where the women are always perfectly manicured and groomed.
A while later, one small girl showed up by herself. She barely reached up to my chin, and I stand at a modest 5'6". She had a unique, playful fashion sense: her head was shaved, but topped with a red beret and on her ears were over-sized, fluorescent green plastic diamonds. The torrential downpour of rain on the tin roof of the church made it impossible to speak in a normal voice to anyone more than a foot away, which allowed for intimate conversation while everyone else was busy chattering away. She was shy, but coy and well-spoken.
Her name was Nadège. I asked her how old her baby was. He passed away, she said. My heart sank. I realized that this was the girl whose sheet I had read. I am so sorry, I said. It's ok, she replied. He died of anemia. We continued our conversation and became fast friends. She dreamed of becoming a nurse, and was going to go back to school this year.
One SDI staff member told us about the attitude of the father of one teenage mother: "Even if I had a million francs, I would still not send my daughter to school! She would just get pregnant again!" She also told us about how when SDI first approached these girls, they thought the program was too good to be true, and did not believe them. SDI helps these teens in ways that are essential to their wellbeing: in changing attitudes, and helping the teens become independent and good mothers.
After meeting all of the teens that SDI was going to help, I was inspired. I was inspired by their strength, by the work that SDI was doing, and lastly I was inspired to let people know that they can help these teens through GlobalGiving.
We are glad to inform you that with your hard earned cash, we were able to redo our strategy focusing on individual communities starting with Tole-Buea with community banks and micro enterprise development in focus.
With the GlobalGiving Visitors in Cameroon soon, we are blessed to tap from their knowledge and experience to add more impact to communities.
Your continued support is ever needed. Forward ever backward never...help teenage mothers in Cameroon.
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South West Region,