Friday, December 11, 2015

Eradicating Gender Based Violence: HOFNA Cameroon Uses Songs, Drama, Debate to Build Safe Schools, Communities

Chongwain Christelle: Director of HOFNA

The event which took place at the Bamenda Congress Hall on December 10, 2015 was described by parents, teachers and students as a milestone marked the “16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence,” organized by a Bamenda based nongovernmental organization, Hope For the Needy Association HOFNA Cameroon. Welcoming participants, HOFNA Cameroon Director Chongwain Christelle said that HOFNA is committed more than ever to work together with youths to end gender based violence in and around schools, and communities. The evidence of this practice she added is that the male gender sometimes discriminates over females because of their chauvinistic beliefs. She called on everyone to join the crusade to elude this belief so much so that the education of the girl child is fostered. Holding on the theme “Together, let us build safe schools and communities for All, especially Girls to thrive”, the Bamenda event kick started the official launching of a project code named “Creative Arts for Girls’ Empowerment.”
Some of the key activities that attracted a lot of applauses included the debate on the topic, School before Marriage or Marriage before school. Desmond, a physically impaired Senior Prefect of GBHS Bamenda and his friend stole the show in their arguments. To Musa Shey Nfor, these students have proven that disability is not a handicap.  
 The drama, “For Girls Abused” which paints the picture of the bitter experience young girls undergo in schools and communities ignited tears and sorrows from the audience. The main character Beri, a young girl from Nkambe, incarnates struggles girls of poor homes go through to have access to education as she is forced by her father at gun point to get marry her teacher, Mr. Tantoh, a man twice her age married to two wives. 
Earlier during a panel discussion Madame Mbah Ada called on the girls to denounce any form of violence because without them society will not be able to break the silence. 
Experience teachers, jurists and parents also talked on School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV), child early and forced marriages and other Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) which affect girls in schools and around communities. Panelists observed that the practices and beliefs affect the learning levels and completion rates and raises barriers to gender equality in education in communities. At the end of the event, participants were urged to be ambassadors in their schools and communities. It should be noted that HOFNA Cameroon partnered with the US Embassy in Cameroon, OHI, CREED, wfac, YouareIn etc to carryout the project which is expected to change lives positively for the girl child in schools and around communities.


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