INDIVIDUAL ACADEMIC AND PSYCHOSOCIAL ASSISTANCE FOR INTERNALLY DISPLACED CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS (FROM NORTH- AND SOUTH-WEST CAMEROON) IN BAFOUSSAM 

A PROJECT IN COOPERATION WITH

BON-SECOURS AND WMF-BARMHERZIGKEIT IN GERMANY

AND THE SUPPORT OF DIRECT PARTNERSHIPS IN SOUTH-GERMANY THROUGH THE BASEL MISSION – DEUTSCHER ZWEIG E.V.

Project Context

Due to the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest Region since 2016 many families have left their home and many children have not been able to attend school for more than three years. 
 In Bafoussam (West Cameroon) a project has been set up in August 2019 to enable internally displaced children to attend school. Thanks to psycho-social support, they have the chance to successfully complete the school year. 

The combination of schooling and psychosocial support opens up future opportunities and contributes to peace and stability in the country. 
 With our offer we would like to support families in reintroducing their children into the school system. Our aim is not only to finance the children's regular school attendance, but also to accompany them in order to compensate for problems such as learning difficulties, psychological problems resulting from trauma, etc. 
 We work in a team of (social) educators, teachers, trauma therapists and other professionals.  

We offer:  

  •        Payment of school fees and all necessary materials for a school visit
  •        Implementation or financing of preparatory courses before the start of the   school year and tutoring courses during the school year 
  •        Individual one-to-one care in the families 
  •         Regular group activities/youth group 
  •        Observation and possible referral (incl. financing) to psychological specialists 


Our approach: 

It is based on two pillars: financing of school attendance and psychosocial accompaniement

1.       Financing of school attendance

a)      Preparatory catch-up classes after needs assessment 

b)      School fees, examination fees

c)       Learning material, school uniforms, in some cases supplying with bags and shoes, other costs for school events

d)      Tutoring

2.       Psychosocial accompaniment

a)      Consistent, secure relationship offers and transparency

Children and young people experience that they can rely on adult caregivers and experience support.

This is important because previous relationships were often experienced very arbitrarily; reactions and situations were difficult to assess; caregivers were not reliable, the child was left on his own.

b)      Providing space for an exchange, for "becoming aware of and expressing feelings", psychological help

We want to create a safe space and pick up the children and young adolescents where they are; enable them to regain confidence in themselves without overstraining them. 

c)       Fun, joy and time (leisure time activities, help to relax, create beautiful moments)
 Experiencing fun and joy helps to relax and creates security and offers an important counterweight to the violent experiences and the feeling of powerlessness. 

d)    Spirituality
 «The belief in a (...) higher power that is well-disposed towards me and can intervene in my life can (...) be identified as one of the strongest resilience factors of all. Whoever knows that he is protected and sheltered by such powers, (...) feels safe » (Baierl2 2014, page 69).

 


 


1st Academic year: 2019/2020

During 10 months we follewed up 30 children and their respective families in a financial way, individually and in multiple group activities. 
 With the arrival of the corona pandemic in Cameroon, many things have changed, starting with the fact that mid-March all schools in Cameroon were closed from one day to the next without any preparation, and that these schools partially resumed teaching only at the beginning of June and only for the graduation classes. 

However, despite all the difficulties and unforeseen changes, we have successfully completed the project and are looking forward to "ringing in a new round" with more children, more experience and even more good ideas at the beginning of the new school year! 
 The feedback from our children and their parents is our best testimonial: 

Feedback of the children:

·       first and foremost, everyone expressed joy and happiness about the progress of the project

·       the joy of finally going back to school

·       not having to worry about being able to pay their school fees in full; on the contrary, for the first time in their lives, their school fees were paid in full from the beginning, they had all the necessary books and materials and could also take private lessons. Such a feeling of security was unknown to everyone!

·       the surprise of feeling so valued that someone deemed it necessary to visit them at home, to have someone listening to them, showing interest in their studies and trying to figure out solutions to their problems with them

·       not to forget the importance of the Sunday meetings (group sessions) and the various lessons they were able to draw from them, e.g. the opportunity to talk about "healing of wounded hearts" or "sexuality", will remain unforgettable for them

·       the possibility to visit and discover new places 

Feedback of the parents:

·       the parents expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the fact that their children have been selected for the project 

·       the fact that all costs were covered and how this gave them a feeling of security "We had the feeling of being in another world".

·       they themselves got an idea of how important it is to monitor the learning progress of the children 

·       the lessons about social interaction that were given to the children were also passed on to their parents

·       despite the abrupt interruption caused by the corona crisis, their children have reached a different level and have "grown" compared to their previous situation

2nd adacemic year: 2020/2021

We started our 2nd year in august 2020 with the selection of 17 new children, and brought forward 23 from the first year; so that we have a total of 40 children from 7 to 20 years. 
 The first week of september we started already with catch-up classes for primary school for those who did not attend school for many years or needed a support to be on top. Every child was tested and will be tested again before inscribing them in the respective classes.