We are sorry to say we could not execute the planned activities. Let us explain why.
In the South West and North West regions of Cameroon, what started as a lawyer’s trade union strike in 2016 soon after became a crisis dubbed the “Anglophone crisis”. This crisis has only escalated, giving rise to an armed conflict in both regions.
Today, the conflict between state-armed and non-state-armed groups keeps getting worse. This has led to the destruction of more than 90 villages, loss of lives, internal displacement of populations (+300,000) and the migration of people to neighboring Nigeria (30,000) in search of safety.
Non-state groups have declared the 2018 elections illegal, and threaten the bodily integrity of anybody involved with electoral participation activities. Moreover, an important proportion of the population is also against these elections, which they don’t see as a solution to their problems.
Given the prevailing situation in the South West Region, and the effect in the town of Buea coupled with increasing threats towards organizations implementing projects related to political participation, this project will not be carried out as planned. If we were to openly promote political participation, our organization and our staff and volunteers in the field would be under very real threat of attack.
You might ask yourself why we wrote this project then, in the first place. But you need to understand how rapidly the situation has deteriorated. In February 2018, when we first developed this project, the conflict was not at the same stage, and we had hoped we could continue with our electoral participation activities.
So how will your funds be used? This project is a “microproject” under the main project, the Keep a Girl Alive, which empowers young women to take control of their lives and become self-reliant through entrepreneurship. GlobalGiving gives us the authorization to use funds of microprojects back for the main project, in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Your donations will go on to help young women at risk to start a business, we will provide coaching, training and financial support. You will be getting reports from the Keep a Girl Alive and will be getting more acquainted with the program in the coming months. Although the political climate also affects this project (monthly profits have reduced), the program is strong and well-functioning, if anything, the number of potential participants keeps increasing with the current situation, that has forced more than 250,000 people to displacement.
If you want to get to know more about the humanitarian impact of the crisis, you can check out this short article in our website.
Your donations will be used to help girls like Urslar. When she first started in the program she had business experience but had lost all her money due to family problems. We taught her financial management and provided her with a grant to start again, and she was up and selling in all the markets around her. She would trade vegetables and proved to be a natural businesswoman. “Even in this crisis, one can make profits, things are more expensive, but I also raise my prices”. She qualified for a second grant 3 months after, and a third one this 2018. Early 2018, she gave birth to a baby boy. Under normal circumstances, this is a risky situation, because she stops working and she has to be consuming her business capital. But she could manage to keep aside some money, and she was also able to request a low-interest loan from us (we give grants periodically, and we give loans whenever requested, starting with small amounts). This allowed her to get back to her normal levels of investment and monthly profits very quickly. Last week she took a new loan, two times the size of the first, roughly 250$. Her first grant had been only 50$, and she has made 1 year and 1 month with us.
We know you wanted to help us bring democracy to Cameroon, but you will agree with us that democracy is more likely to come when women like Urslar are safe, well fed, and able to grow their projects. She is one of the more than 100 girls supported by this project, and with your donations, we will be able to support a few more. All of them have the potential to help build Cameroon to be the country it deserves to be. Even if there’s war today, we know it’s them who will rebuild this country.
Thank you very much for believing in Cameroonian women.