ENGAGING PARENTS, TEACHERS, AND STUDENTS AGAINST HATE SPEECH AND VIOLENCE ON AND OFF CAMPUSES IN BAMENDJOU, WEST REGION OF CAMEROON
Local Youth Corner within its mission of preventing and countering violent extremism within the society, paid a courtesy visit in Bamendjou, West region of Cameroon within the mission to mobilize parents, teachers and pupils against hate speech as well as promote a culture of mutual acceptance and tolerance between the host community and internally displaced persons living in that locality.
The mission began proper work on Friday 6 March with a visit to the College Polyvalent Marie Reine des Apostres COPO MARA de Bamendjou. There, the LOYOC team led by the National Coordinator Mr. Christian Achaleke introduced the team and exposed the team’s mission in their locality. It was an interactive session between the team, the administration, and students of the school. The team emphasized issues of violence, hate speech, and mutual acceptance.
Mr. Achaleke Christian sensitizing and engaging the students against hate speech and violence
Students taking the commitment to tackle hate speech and violence on their campus
Tangang Andrew and Dione Sharon engaged the students on these and they all together with the administration pledged to kick violence and hate speech out of their school.
The team later visited the school workshop. They were displaced items that were produced by the students. The items included school bags, sleepers, table naps, fashion jewelry and many others. LOYOC also exchanged with the stakeholders and they reiterated how the two institutions could help each other in the realization of their missions.
LOYOC staff visiting the workshop of COPO MARA
The working session continued with a visit to the Ecole Saint Michel de Ndang. The team visited all the classrooms where they sensitized the students on the dangers of violence and hate speech in their school milieu.
Father Afoukeze Peter, Project Lead engaging with the children in of psycho-social healing process
Laura Ijang, Administrative Assistant for Local Youth Corner Cameroon sensitizing the children on hate speech and violence
Ngu Naah Vanesia, Logistics Officer for Local Youth Corner Cameroon engaging the kids
The mission team later proceeded to the Ecole Saint Therese de Toba where they did a class-to-class tour sensitizing and engaging the pupils against social ills like violence and hate speech.
The visit proceeded with a stop at the divisional officer’s office Bamendjou where the team was introduced and the object of their mission disclosed. The D.O was pleased with the initiative and invited LOYOC to extend the campaign to state schools in the locality. After this brief stop at the D.Os office, the team then moved to Ecole Saint Antoine de Padou where they met with the administration and exchanged on their mission. The team had a brief stop at the Hotel for lunch before proceeding to the catholic church where a meeting has been arranged between the Ecole Saint Michel de Ndang, Ecole Saint Therese de Toba, Ecole Saint Antoine de Padou, Teachers, and parents with the LOYOC staff under the guidance of Father Afoukeze Peter Kebei. The meeting began at 2-30pm and we had a massif turn out from parents who came in their numbers. The session enrolled in three phases.
The teachers, parents, and the LOYOC staff had concertation in which Mr. Christian Achalake sensitized the parents and teachers on their responsibilities in ensuring a better upbringing for their kids and pupils. He emphasized the need for parents to regularly engaging in frank talks with their kids at home as well as follow them up on daily basis. Teachers too on the other hand were sensitized to the need in promoting a peaceful co-existence between their pupils despite their origins or their backgrounds.
Mr. Christian Achaleke having a talk with parents and teachers of Catholic schools in Bamendjou on their responsibilities in defying hate among their children and pupils
Parents and teachers attending the meeting with LOYOC staff, Bamendjou
They later took the pledge to be drivers of peace in their community. On the other hand, other staff engaged with the pupils where they focused on violence, hate speech, and mutual acceptance among themselves. The children on the other side were engaged by other LOYOC staff who sensitized the children on the need to avoid social ills on their school campuses such as hate speech and violence. They were educated on moral values such as love, respect for parents, elders, teachers, friends, and anyone around them. They, later on, took the engagement in restraining from violence and hate speech and as well as treating their internally displaced brothers and sisters as their own family.
Pupils gathered for the sensitization and advocacy meeting with the LOYOC staff
Dione Sharon Epie, Programmes Officer for LOYOC sensitizing the children on the ills of hate speech and violence in their society
Parents and teachers after listening to LOYOC facilitators later on adopted the initiative to talk and sensitize the children and pupils directly. They took up the stage in sensitizing the pupils on the evils of violence and hate speech on their campuses and their community. They also preached to the children on the needs and benefits of mutually accepting each other regardless of their ethnic or linguistic disparities. They instilled in the children a spirit of love, tolerance, and understanding
Parents and teachers sensitizing their children on Hate speech and violence and promoting a culture of living together
After this activity that lasted for over 2 hours, the team then proceeded with an evaluation meeting where some major concerns were raised and noted. The project team reflected on the possibility of further projects in the community.
The day was dedicated to meeting with the internally displaced community. They had escaped from the conflict in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon and found refuge in Bamendjou. The meeting with this group of people began at 11 am. Mr. Christian Achaleke, Mr. Besong Bawack Mallet, and Rev Father Afoukeze Peter Kebei, and the entire LOYOC team engaged with the people who shared their experiences living as internally displaced persons in Bamendjou. They shared the challenges they are facing in Bamendjou such as the absence of paid jobs, relatively high tuition fees for their children as well as a language barrier. Mr. Christian Achaleke talked to them about the work LOYOC has been doing in Prisons, in the Far North with the SALAAM school. He encouraged them to be patient and perseverant. Mr. Besong Bawack Mallet also gave them words of encouragement. LOYOC promised to accompany them in their different activities. It was an occasion for the IDPs to express themselves as well as receive psycho-social healing. They pleaded with the church for the establishment of a school for internally displaced children. Father Afoukeze Peter reassured them of a project in the pipeline for the creation of a school for internally displaced children
While Mr. Christian Achaleke, Mr. Besong Bawack Mallet, and Father Afoukeze Peter Kebei engaged with these internally displaced persons, other LOYOC staff engaged with their children on the other side. The children shared with the team the different problems they are facing in their respective schools such as they been referred to in school as anglofufus. The team engaged the children in psycho-social healing activities. It was an interactive session with the children asking the team questions and the team giving responses and vice versa.
Ngu Naah Vanessa and Vukieseh Larissa Nibameh engaging the internally displaced children in psycho-social healing activities.
This meeting with the internally displaced community lasted for over 3 hours and could be considered successful. The IDPs aired their minds while thanking Father Afoukeze Peter to have always been by their side. They expressed their gratitude to the entire LOYOC team as well noting the fact that they look upon LOYOC in building their capacities so they could become useful people in their host communities.
It was a Sunday and the team began the day by attending mass at the Eglise Sainte Antoine de Padou. The mass was also dedicated to the Local Youth Corner who had recently won the Premio Negro Mundo a la Fraternidad award, given by the Comboni missionaries in Spain. The award and the team were presented before the church. Father Afoukeze Peter blessed the award and prayed for the entire team.
Father Afoukeze Peter offering prayer for the Local Youth Corner team and the Mundo Negro Award
The award was later presented to His Lordship Emmanuel Dassi Youfang, the auxiliary Bishop of the Bafoussam Diocese. He congratulated the team for their illustrious work in peacebuilding. He prayed and blessed the award and the entire team and encourage them to continue in their endeavors in the domain of peace.
The day continued with a visit to the Bamendjou Royal Palace. We were led to the royal palace by Father Afoukeze. While with the Traditional Ruler of Bamendjou, His Majesty Jean Rameau SOKOUDJOU, he appreciated the work young people like are doing in the domain of peace. He encouraged us to keep the focus on the objectives. He narrated to us his life experiences which were worth a lesson to take home. Discussions lasted for two hours, he blessed the award and we went for pictures with him
His Majesty asked us to go visit the Bamendjou Royal Museum. It was a beautiful experience. All sorts of beautifully designed arts could be found at the museum.