November 20th is celebrated around the world as World Children’s Day. This day is set aside by the UNICEF to teach and encourage togetherness as well as awareness amongst children and improving their welfare. This year’s celebration not being different from the others, seeks to improve the lives and welfare of children globally. It is in this light that the ERuDeF’s Center for the Advancement of Women’s Initiatives, celebrated the day with children at the St. Glory Orphanage located in Malingo street, Buea, Southwest Region of Cameroon. CAWI on this day sought to mold the minds of the children in order to secure their futures. The children at St. Glory Orphanage were schooled on the importance of living together. The CAWI team led by the Programs officer of CAWI, Madam Mbunya Mary, enumerated the rights of the child and gave them hope to hold on despite the many challenges. These children are based in the conflict stricken region of the Southwest and they like many are affected by the conflict.
This years edition of World Children’s Day was celebrated under the theme “Investing in our Future Means Investing in our Children”. Indeed, investing in our future means investing in our children. The children at St. Glory Orphanage may have lost their parents or even families, but they still have dreams, dreams that anchor on our investments today. The children shared their dreams with the CAWI team, and how amazing these dreams are. There is no gain saying that these children are determined to change their narrative, to change the narrative of those who may find themselves in their shoes. With dreams like becoming engineers, nutritionists, teachers, doctors and lots of others the St Glory Orphanage children are not only armed for the future but they are determined to turn a new page in their lives.
Kajoy Precious, 14 wants to become a teacher. The form one student of Bilingual Grammar School Molyko who also resides at the ST Glory Orphanage wish to see a world where the aspirations and dreams of children like her are nurtured, a world that is safe for all. Hear her “I have always believed in myself, and I know that I will fulfill my dreams of becoming a teacher. I really want to thank St Glory Orphanage for giving me hopes again. I thought all was gone….. Visits like this assure us that people somewhere think about us. Thank you CAWI team for paying us this wonderful visit.” Kajoy Precious also wish to see a world free of COVID-19.
Children in Africa as a whole and Cameroon in particular face numerous challenges. Problems like hunger, distress, lack of proper nutrition, lack of proper health care etc are few of the numerous challenges children in Africa and most developing countries face. Children are the most affected in the decisions made at home and the society at large. Mental health of children is also of prime importance. Some children tend to face nervous breakdown depending on the things they see. Imagine a child in the conflict stricken regions of Cameroon who watched helplessly how his parents are being killed by the warring parties. Imagine a child who has been out of school for 4 years as a result of the crisis, imagine that child who sees killings as a normal thing, that child that has been made to understand that the future is in the guns.
The day in its original text, states that, every hungry child must be fed, the child should be the first to receive relief in case of distress, must be protected against exploitation etc. The questions that beg for answer is; do our children have the protection they deserve? are our children well fed? are they protected in case of crisis, such as the one ongoing in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon? The answer is unfortunate ‘no’. Child labour especially in developing countries is on a steady rise
The effects of the coronavirus according to UNICEF is more ravaging to the children as part of their livelihood is being snatched from them. The freedom of playing outside is being restricted and the free will of feeling like a child with all their juvenile behaviors are being limited. This poses a threat to their upbringing and mentality as well as opinion of things. In Cameroon, despite restrictions on schools from admitting more than fifty students and pupils in class, the opposite is rather recurrent. As much as the safety of a child is of utmost importance, the mental health is equally as important.
Children in the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon have a different story to tell. Faced with the ongoing unrest which has left some of them homeless and others displaced, the corona virus and its restrictions adds up to the worry and their ability to recuperate their hidden talents. The mental health of these young stars is therefore questioned especially with the recent killings and kidnapping of student and teachers like the Kumba Killing and the abduction of Presbyterian school teachers in Kumbo, chief town of Bui Division of the Northwest Region of Cameroon.
There is no doubt that,” investing in our future means investing in our children” for is it not said that children are the leaders of tomorrow? Shaping their minds at this early age means the resources left behind will not be misused.