Sister Isabelle Siwa, presents the situation of young women and children in precarious situations in Ngaoundéré, Cameroon, and the reintegration project aimed at giving back dignity to those “wounded by life”.
Since 2015, I have been working at the CEDER* centre for street children in the diocese of Ngaoundéré. I do this work with passion and dedication. For me, it is an appropriate place to make our charism a reality, because honouring humanity also means being with the wounded of this world for the greater glory of God. I say “A big thank you” to all the people of good will who support these children; in particular to all of you, dear Sisters of our religious family, the Daughters of Jesus, who have always been devoted to the needy and shown great support.
(CEDER – Centre d’Ecoute des Enfants de la Rue)
Social and economic discriminations
Poverty diminishes the dignity of the human person. In our context of the Diocese of Ngaoundéré, women are subject to different social and economic discriminations that still maintain them as marginalized people.
We have the under-schooling that comes from the fact that parents prefer to send a boy to school rather than a girl. Girls are prepared to take on the household chores in the family and enter into a marriage that they have not necessarily chosen. These marriages, arranged to the detriment of the girl, end in the majority of cases with a divorce at the husband’s discretion, leaving the girl with children.
These situations generate several consequences. On a mental and physical level, the girls are destroyed psychologically and physically. Inertia sets in and they become discouraged and apathetic. At the socio-economic level they are not productive because they have no training. They have no chance of integrating into society and as a result are rejected by their own families. They then find themselves on the street with children, abandoned to themselves.
Ignorant of their rights and duties, they become a burden both to themselves and to society. No longer knowing how to take care of themselves or their children, they are therefore exposed to all sorts of evils.
A centre for learning
The street children in our care are the concrete result of these situations. The majority of these children come from single-parent families and live with traumatised mothers who are unable to give them an appropriate education and training.
The centre has been built to allow women, teenage mothers and “abandoned” children to learn handicrafts such as weaving with beads, embroidery and knitting with wool, not to mention dyeing. Once they have learned, the carefully made objects will be sold on site or outside the town of N’Gaoundéré, depending on demand.
In addition to the activities, there will be catering by the CEDER’s teenagers, who have been trained and accompanied by professional cooks. These former street children who will work in this new centre will be paid so they can save money and get off the street.
A social insertion project
The money earned from the sale of goods will be used for the running of the project and of the Center as well as the salaries of those who will work there.
In addition, the centre will give us the opportunity to listen to and accompany these socially abused women and teenage mothers. They will also receive other training useful for their development and growth.
Some achievements and results
Here are some of our achievments in response to the reality of the Adamaoua Region :
A functional training centre for handicrafts, trade and accompaniment has been built and equipped. The children come regularly to the centre to work, which means that the number of children on the street is reduced. Objects made by the children are displayed and sold. Those who are older and capable enough are recruited and work on their own account in the commercial centre
- Women and girls from the town of N’Gaoundéré are trained and successful in the field of handicrafts such bead weaving, dyeing and knitting.
- Women, young girls and street children are trained and know their rights and duties.
- The CEDER’s financial mobilisation capacity for ioperation is improved and we are working to achieve financial autonomy, if possible, with a well-paid staff.
- The living conditions of the women and young girls who are mothers and who live alone have improved.
« The fire of charity »
Born of the fire of love as Daughters of Jesus in this world that God loves :
“The sisters will be inflamed with the love of God, breathing only his glory and burning with the most ardent desire to procure it. They will clothe themselves with the charity of Jesus Christ himself in order to exercise it towards all the unfortunate people entrusted to them, children, the elderly, the sick and the infirm. » (First Consitutions de la Congégation 1850)
It is in this spirit and heart that the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus continues to manifest charity today by sharing with these “poor of life” in order to promote life in abundance.
Sr Isabelle Siwa, dj, Ngaoundere, Cameroon