2016 CHRF Fellow/Recipient of seed grant
“I joint the Cameroon Human Rights Fellowship because I wanted to acquire the necessary skills, competencies and support to improve on my work with my then newly created organization, Excellentia Cameroon. During the Fellowship, the staff of CCID were very cordial and supportive. The staff was made up of well experienced and down to earth individuals who were very supportive and willing to provide all the assistance the fellows needed, as well as willing to answer their questions and provide directives for the kickoff of a young organization like mine, I remain very thankful to the team. During the fellowship, I attended several trainings on human rights and gender equality and acquired the skill and competence on community mobilization, sensitization and training, I like the fact that I was linked with mentors who provided further support and guidance to my work.
With the skills acquired so far, I have been able to come up with more projects as well as visit and empower more groups in rural communities. I received a seed grant during the fellowship that gave me the opportunity to build the capacity of women groups in Fontem, South West Region of Cameroon to foster gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as well as start a community radio program with Lebialem community Radio. Through the radio talk show, we have sensitized the wider community on the need to have gender equal work. My project had three main activities.
- A three days training workshop for 20 representatives from 10 selected groups
- A three days community mobilization workshop for 20 representatives from 10 groups
- A support network activity which involved creation of a network among groups, creation of a radio show etc.
After the fellowship, I started contributing to build resilient communities through a project called ‘Excellentia Orientation and Mentorship Camp’; the program seeks to enhance talents and potentials in young persons between the ages of 12 and 19 in a two weeks intensive camping program. This will go a long way to bring out hidden abilities and skills from these young persons that will help strengthen our communities.
The Human Right Fellowship I must say is the perfect opportunity for young people who are starting work. It builds capacity and provided support network for potential community leaders to start from”
I am a 2017 Cameroon Human Rights Fellow and a mental health advocate, mental health specialist. I am the Healthcare Information Country Representative for Cameroon (HIFA CR) since 2013 and currently serve as Mental Health Initiative Network (MHIN) Africa’s Knowledge Exchange (KE) volunteer Assistant. My work as HIFA CR has given him considerable experience in Global health, health promotion and health literacy. I am working towards “a world where every person and every health worker has access to the healthcare information they need to protect their own health and the health of others.”
My motivation for joining the Cameroon Human Rights Fellowship was to learn about human rights in the context of mental health as I had previously noticed in my work that users of health services in Cameroon, patients and their families where victim of violation to their rights to health simply because they did not have access to the healthcare information which ought to be provided by the health providers and health system.
The fellowship was then the perfect opportunity. My interaction with the CCID staff was professional and enough to create a warm atmosphere through the fellowship. This fellowship greatly improved my team working skill, communication skills especially during my online advocacy campaign known as #MentalHealthNotYetAPriority which I carried out on Facebook. I have also become competent in viewing situations or the experiences of people as involving a human rights lens, especially when it comes to health. I am more sensitive to human rights now and I realize how much many violations are done in my society. During the fellowship I developed some lessons for students with an aim to lay a base for human rights education in schools especially at the secondary level. I have also raised awareness through talks about the need to be sensitive to the rights of mental health patients.
To build resilient communities, I am currently developing a project which aims at improving the health literacy of Cameroonian communities; this project will integrate a human right component.
Lyonga Marlvin Njie
2016 Fellow, CCID
I am Lyonga Marlvin Njie, founder and CEO of Reach4lifebuea, a civil society organisation, conceived in 2012, created in 2015 and officially registered as an association in 2017 with Registration number 123/G.37/D/14/Vol 1/SAAJP. The organisation has as primary aim to “transform the lives of inmates and drug addicts”. I volunteered for close to three different CIGs and NGOs, including Borstal institute for juvenile delinquency, Buea Central Prison and the Buea School for the deaf for close to 6 years, working with inmates and children in conflict with the law. I applied for CCID because I needed to fine tune skills I could not acquire from any book or field work but only from other experiences and work stories.
Those responsible for CHRF were always willing to pull every fellow over any wall of difficulties. They were willing to talk, share their experiences during and after the workshop. From CCID, I have gained certain skills. Most important was the idea of the “will” to serve human right activist and also the skill of community progress through collective efforts. I have also been imbibed with tools to train others and provided with referral materials and web pages filled with resources.
To effectively put these knowledge and skills to practice, I have been engaged in the fight for the rights of inmates. We have been able to have better outputs using little or no resources. Also, we have engaged in a drug free street project in order to build stronger communities. Our vision is to keep our schools out of drugs. We carry out radio programs in schools and also have radio talks. We also provide rehabilitation services to addicts, especially those in prison and those willing to participate in the programs. We are working with forces of law and order to fight against illicit distribution and trafficking of drugs in our communities. In addition, we carry our drugs awareness campaigns in schools especially in health clubs in secondary schools around the Buea Municipality.
To achieve this, we use simple materials such as cartoon books created by our organisation. Finally, we have carried out a survey to know the extent to which our youths are exposed to drugs and the level of accessibility to drugs in order to build data based on age of users, gender (comparative), location of school(rural or urban), accessibility, knowledge of its effects, how they first got the drugs, reasons for usage and more.
In summary, I must say, the fellowship was very rich in content and I even intend to further my impact in my community.