Many of my friends ask me, why am I so passionate about issues that concern women and girls and I tell them: it is because of my mother. At a very young age, my mother lost her father and her own mother who was constantly sick and could barely provide for the family. She managed to see herself through primary school from transporting sand to a nearby construction site each morning for pay and from the sale of sweet potatoes, yams and peanuts. My mother would tell me how girl education was not valued in their time. The boys will go to school while the girls stayed at home and performed house chores. After her primary school education, she got a teaching job from which she helped to sponsor her siblings to school. Her determination to see herself through primary school while taking care of her family only goes further to emphasize the importance of girl education and encouraged me to reach out to other children especially girls who of no fault of their own are being denied an education.
When I reached my teenage years, I also realized that most girls and women who were not educated experienced different forms of violence at home. I kept asking myself why did women and girls have to face such injustices and inequalities, including violence? Gradually it became clear to me that most of the men who perpetuated violence against women were not only insecure but also uneducated. Since the women were not educated as well, they easily accepted such practices as a norm or even thought they were a way of expressing love.
Violence against women is quite traumatizing and prevents women from attaining their full potential. It strips women of their basic human rights and dis-empowers families and communities. As I grew older, I realized that most men who were perpetrators of violence against women were ignorant of their role as men. I grew committed to changing this and I started reaching out to fathers and young men and working with them in disrupting certain norms and challenging perceptions which is key in promoting gender equity and the empowerment of women and girls – this in addition to providing educational opportunities for children especially girls to stay in school and learn.
As Nelson Mandela once said “Any society which does not care for its children is no nation at all” – Education Cannot wait
This All Started With Pocket Savings While In School
The idea of Hope For Children Cameroon all started while in high school. While in school, I would see many children walking barefooted who were not in school and learning. Some looked very malnourished and desolated and most had no father or mother to talk to. It was then my twin brother and I started saving every penny we had as pocket money while in school to help provide school materials to a nearby Catholic primary school in Belo Sub-Division in the North West Region of Cameroon. Even though we didn’t have much, we were very comfortable being in a good school and a place to call home that fosters learning and creativity. However, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (USI), an estimated 263 million children and youth are out of school – this equals to 25% the population of Europe
“Access to quality education is the bedrock of every child – it fosters gender equality, eliminates all forms of violence and lift families and communities out of poverty. Education Matters”
Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu