Chantelle is 16-year-old young lady from the Village of Besali located in the South West region of Cameroon. The ICA team met this beautiful and soft-spoken student, who has six siblings aged from 6 to 20 years old. All of the children in the village are attending the ICA/CIC primary school that was built in 2010.
Chantelle shared with us that this school is one of the very few in Cameroon that has enough textbooks for everyone, and that it made learning easier. She is currently studying in high school and the textbooks aren’t provided. “My father works very hard to send us all to school, but there is not enough money for all the books we need,” she said. Chantelle also explained that she and her friends share their books since none of them can afford to buy them all.
Chantelle would like to be a teacher once she has completed her studies. During her free time she plays handball and football with her friends.
Christmas in Cameroon – Story 1
Christmas in Cameroon is celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus Christ and that he is our spiritual leader. Christmas is also a day where family members travel to meet extended family to celebrate together.
On December 23rd, families clean up and decorate their homes with decorations such as Christmas trees, balloons, and other things to show people that they are ready for Christmas day. Men of the communities get together to drink, hang out and laugh while the women and children clean and decorate the community. It is also the day where family members, who does not live nearby will travel home to celebrate with their families, especially students who attend school in other parts of the country. It is the same thing for family members, who work and live far away, and those who are married and live with their own families outside of the community.
Christmas Eve is a day of killings animals for the big fest on Christmas Day. To have animals for the big feast, some men will enter some financing groups called ‘Njangi Houses’ months before Christmas where they can contribute a certain amount of money and be able to buy stuff for December 25th. Some men will also come together as a group to contribute money to buy cows, figs, or fowls to be shared among the group.
On Christmas day, the women and children stay home to prepare these animals for the big feast. They must be prepared on this day. Chewable like chin-chin, peanuts, doughnuts, chickens, groundnuts, and puff-corn are being fried. Communities in Cameroon love to prepare their traditional meals, for example in the North West they make achu, fufu-corn and vegetables with caty-caty (fried chicken or fish sauce). In the South West, they prepare fufu, eru, rice and stew, yam and ndole, and achu.
In some communities, people will come together to organize a small gathering where each family will bring their meals to share and celebrate Christmas as a big happy family.
Ngeasong Nguni Forchin, 20 years old.
University of Bamenda
Christmas in Cameroon – Story 2
Christmas in Cameroon occurs during the dry season, and in the heat of the coffee and peanut harvest. Over 70% of Cameroonians are Christians, and to them it is one of the most important days of the year. New Year day is also very important as it marks a moment of rebirth, moving forward, forgetting, and correcting the past while everyone is wished good luck.
No Christmas is complete without a big feast and music with songs like ‘Shall We Go to Bethlehem’, ‘Jesus Christ is Born’ and ‘O-Cocorico’. Many communities will decorate strategic places with anything they can find small or big from lights, candles, nativity scenes and wallpapers. Plastic Christmas trees or the traditional Christmas tree (local cypress) are very common. However, some families cannot afford it or do not see it as necessity as they prefer to save or invest.
Due to the diversity in Cameroon from different geographical areas, cultures, fashion trends and beliefs, there is always a guarantee that celebrations will be different, unique, and memorable for each Cameroonian. Many families dress in their best clothes to celebrate together. Children often receive clothing as a gift.
The most important aspect of Christmas day is the present of abundancy in foods and drinks, even for the less privileged families who do not starve on this day. Many people give without hesitating.
Atemnkeng Emiliene Atabong
Make Christmas more magical for Cameroonians by giving the gift of helping ICA with its clean water, education and community projects.
The continuing civil unrest in Cameroon is putting additional pressure on a country already in crisis. This situation has only increased the need for foreign partners to redouble their efforts and assistance Cameroon. There are four unique crisis’ that are occurring simultaneously and any one of them is enough to bring immense hardship on a nation that ranks 150th on the UN’s Human Development Index with up to 40% of the population having little to no formal education.
The breakdown of the four crises facing Cameroon are:
1. In the North-West and South-West regions, a separatist movement has displaced more than 700,000 people.
2. In the Far North, between 230,000-300,000 inhabitants are displaced due to persistent violence by Boko Haram.
3. In the East, the ongoing civil war in the Central African Republic has forced more than 270,000 refugees into Cameroon placing a massive burden on an already impoverished nation.
4. COVID-19, this global pandemic has imposed a national crisis on Cameroon that only compounds the stresses on the entire population.
The violent crisis caused by the separatist movement has occurred in ICA’s traditional areas of aid and has forced us to react. In the areas of the highest violence, schooling has ground to a halt in 2017 and hundreds of thousands of fleeing school children have not been in a classroom for 4 years now.
ICA has made a commitment to help the people displaced by this unrest, and have shifted our school building focus to ensure that we are building schools that contribute to the critical need to provide education for these refugees of the escalating violence in the North-West and South-West regions. Pre-existing schools in the areas where the refugees have been forced to settle are bursting at the seams. Classrooms designed for 60 children are hosting 160 and, as a result, the quality of education has been reduced dramatically. ICA is building classrooms in these areas to help ease the burdens caused by unmanageable class sizes.
In the past 3 years we have built 6 large classrooms that have helped to a great extent. In the grand scheme of it all, it’s a small contribution to a problem of this scale, but we remain dedicated to working to the extent our funding allows, to facilitate an education for the children of Cameroon. At ICA, we firmly believe that education changes everything for a child.
As the Chair of ICA I am proud of our efforts to continue to serve the people of Cameroon in the face of some of their greatest trials. We continue to work extremely closely with our local partners, the Centre for International Cooperation, to provide assistance in some of the most negatively impacted populations of the ongoing violence. None of this would be possible without the steadfast support of our many individual and organizational donors. Together we continue to make a difference.
Michael Johnson, Board Chair ICA Canada
Let’s educate these kids.
The future is NOW!