Regaining confidence (and an income): Income-generating activities in Cameroon

During one of the coffee breaks of the Beirut Conference, Peter Kum Che, director of Trauma Centre Cameroon spoke enthusiastically about one of the programmes they run at the centre, an IRCT member based in Yaoundé. The programme is targeted at two groups of marginalised women in Cameroon – prisoners and refugees.

With grants provided by the IRCT under the La Luz fund, the Trauma Centre is training women in sowing, tailoring, fabric dyeing and hair-dressing. The idea is to help women regain confidence and reintegrate in society through an income-generating activity. Some of the women are trained in the Trauma Centre but “the location is not important,” Peter said. They also train women inside the less-pleasant prison facilities.

One of the fabrics dyed by female prisoners in Cameroon

One of the fabrics dyed by female prisoners in Cameroon

Besides vocational training, the Trauma Centre also supports these women with sowing machines and a small setup capital to buy other necessary materials and products.

Every year, these women, in particular those in prison, have the opportunity to showcase their new skills and resulting products at an open-door exhibition at the prison. And people are interested — visitors include government representatives and local personalities. Other exhibitions happen on important dates such as 26 June – the International Day in Support of Torture Victims — and International Women’s Day, when female prisoners are let outside the prison facilities to exhibit their products for one full week.

When I ask, Peter explained that the Trauma Centre monitors the project and does a follow-up evaluation after one full year of training. However, they are quick to see the benefits and move on. “There are many people in need for support,” says Peter.

There might even be some positive ripple effects we don’t know about. “Maybe those women that have been trained are teaching other women in their villages their craft.”

Two years ago, thanks to a generous anonymous donor from Spain, La Luz Foundation was created and has enabled the IRCT to strengthen the support available to women and girl victims of sexual torture. It supports work aimed at those women and girls who are oppressed or in danger of being victims of human rights abuses in particular because they belong to a vulnerable group, whether it is based on belief, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other minority group status. This year’s call for proposals is currently open. Find out more here

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