Reviving hope in the life of marguerite and crisis-affected peers, in the far north of Cameroon
28 November 2022
"I could scarcely take care of my needs, much less support my siblings and helpless mother, whose source of livelihood had been truncated by the war
Marguerite is 19 years old and the third child in a family of seven. She lost her father when she was eleven, and lives with her mother, four sisters, and two brothers in a two-bedroom mud house in one of the most affected communities in the region. Her mother depended on farming for their welfare, but this source of livelihood was truncated in 2014 by the outbreak of the crisis. Life became unbearable for Marguerite and her family; her hopes were crushed.
"I was forced to drop out of school, the one thing that gave me hope. I stayed at home, taking care of my siblings, and could barely have a square meal. My optimism for a bright future was lost." Marguerite explains emotionally. "I could no longer go to the farm for fear of being killed. I can’t explain how we survived that period." Marguerite’s mother adds
The UNDP Stabilization Project revitalized the Government Vocational Training Center (SAR-SM), among other public and social structures in her community, by providing training resources to promote livelihood and assistance to government and local security structures to foster stabilization and security. Marguerite was enrolled at the center, to learn how to tailor. "The tailoring and carpentry equipment and security stabilization efforts by UNDP in our community greatly revived the center. The center doubled its enrollment and scaled up the quality of training," confirms Mr. Blata, Director of the Center.
Marguerite, among other girls, was trained and graduated as a professional tailor. The course covered tailoring (sowing and embroidery), life skills (sexual education, civic/moral education, and social cohesion), as well as entrepreneurship, and socio-professional insertion. The project also ensured the economic insertion of her and other learners by providing them with start-up kits, including sewing machines and accessories, fabrics, tables, and chairs. "With the training and equipment, I received, I now make enough profit to take care of my needs and assist my family. I am now sure of becoming a big designer, and training other vulnerable girls." Marguerite confirms, excitingly.
"We have witnessed a lot of change in our family; today we are sure of food and our needs. The money she makes permits me to do 'Njangi' which allows me to raise money for farming and her siblings' school fees.” Marguerite’s mother adds smilingly.
Over 3146 persons’ (1,586 girls and 1,560 boys) lives have been directly impacted by livelihood and income-generating activities since 2020. "So far, we have supported the vocational training of youths and groups in livestock farming, tailoring, carpentry, catering, and more, and provided them with working materials and machines, for their effective socioeconomic integration," confirms Apollinaire Adamou, the project’s livelihood officer.
Like Marguerite, over 1.2 million people in Cameroon's Far-North region are currently in need of security, livelihood, and other basic needs because of the armed insurgency in the Lake Chad region (OCHA Report No. 25, Sept. 2022). As part of the UNDP Regional Stabilization Facility covering the Lake Chad region, the Cameroon Stabilization Window is implementing a comprehensive multi-sectoral approach to stabilize the communities.
"We are working with the government and local authorities in the Far-North region to improve community safety and security, restore essential infrastructure and basic services, and provide livelihood opportunities for affected communities, all while promoting cross-border accessibility.
Despite the significant results we have achieved, there is still much to be covered, and thanks to our partners and donors, we are fully engaged and working unceasingly." Christophe Charbon, Head of Stabilization, UNDP Cameroon Stabilization Window.