Well, there has been a lot happening at Hannah West Design this year, despite the fact that I haven’t been posting about it…I simply haven’t had time to keep my blog updated! But this volunteer project deserves to be first in line in my game of catch-up ball.
Cameroonian girls learn to use a laptop computer
I met “Mother of Hope” Adah Mbah of Cameroon through WorldPulse.com, an incredibly warm and supportive global community of women founded by Jensine Larsen of Portland, Oregon. What a brainchild Jensine gave birth to! Many of these women are beautiful writers, activists working on behalf of women’s rights, ending gender-based violence, environmental causes and more. The site itself concentrates on digital empowerment for women and girls around the world, helping them to find their voice and broadcast it over the internet by providing digital empowerment resources, a venue for support and overwhelming encouragement, and opportunities of many types to women. Though I had been a member since 2010, I recently became active there to help my daughter Jennifer Faith to promote the book she wrote about her journey out of an abusive marriage and encourage women to visit her blog, jenniferfaith.org, for hope, encouragement, and the strength to begin their own journeys to freedom from violence and abuse.
Adah Mbah, Mother of Hope (seated at left)
Adah, the founder of Mother of Hope Cameroon (MOHCAM)
, found me through Jennifer, and seeing that I had computer literacy skills she immediately appealed to me for help in obtaining and delivering internet-enabled devices like cell phones, tablets and laptops for the 30 single mothers and girls entering their first year of University in Cameroon who will be attending her digital empowerment workshop next month. Our original thought was that there ought to be many used devices like these sitting dormant in desk drawers throughout the US. The idea of implementing a reduce-reuse-recycle approach to providing for these young African women really appealed to me and we went to work identifying others who could help us obtain donated devices. Unfortunately the rub came when trying to figure out how to actually get these devices to her, as Adah said the delivery system in Cameroon is very unreliable. Well, we couldn’t ask people to hand over their devices if we weren’t sure if they would get to Adah safely and in time, so a few days ago we decided to raise funds instead so she can purchase them in Cameroon in time for the workshop. You can help! A donation of only $10 will make a difference in Adah’s modest budget, which will cover the purchase of internet-enabled devices for the girls, transportation from their village to the internet cafe in a nearby city where the workshop will be held, and space rental fees. She is also offering modest but intriguing gifts for larger donations. If you’d like to help, you can jump straight to Adah’s Indiegogo campaign here: Virtual Learning tools for Young Women in Cameroon
. Please share with anyone you think might also want to help these Cameroonian girls and young women!
This is what Adah & I wrote for her first appeal for device donations, published at WorldPulse.com:
Access to affordable and relevant health services and accurate, comprehensive health information are fundamental human rights. Yet gender-based discrimination, lack of access to education, poverty, and violence against women and girls can all prevent these rights from being realized. Single mums and girls face a lot of challenges when it comes to sexual reproductive health rights and safe motherhood.They lack accurate information about HIV transmission, the ability to choose whether and when to get pregnant, response to violence against women, and services for sexually transmitted infections and reproductive tract illnesses—all because they lack computer skills.
Mother of Hope Cameroon (MOHCAM), in her fight to educate single mums and girls, is organizing a three day digital empowerment workshop from the 28th-30th July 2014 to raise awareness on single mums and girl’s sexual reproductive health rights and basic computer skills. They will be given the chance to learn leadership skills, build self-confidence and better understand new marketable skills when using visual training tools.The programme is aimed at challenging prevalent gender stereotypes in communities, particularly those that reduce the aspirations of girls in rural communities, where traditions are firmest and patriarchal systems still remain very strong. For single mums and girls to fully participate in their communities and enjoy their rights, they need a life free from gender-based discrimination—a life with the opportunity to be educated, to work, to be healthy and to participate in all aspects of public life; however, millions women and girls are frequently beaten, raped, mutilated, killed, and subjected to gender-based violence which limits their opportunities.
Our ongoing campaign is working to connect rural and underprivileged single mums and girls to the world via the internet. Also some educated women are computer illiterate and can’t properly handle leadership positions. Computer literacy will open doors to share information and build networks with like-minded ventures. Most rural single mums and girls who are engaged in farming and petite trading will acquire computer skills which will enable them to market their products. They will be able meet with other women and mentors online, who will direct them in their activities and businesses. They will find online forums where they can showcase and gain global exposure for their work.
To enable these positive improvements in our communities, MOHCAMs training workshop will empower 30 single mums and girls from Mubang Ntsen Nkwen village and equip them with basic skills in information communication technology (computing), and also to educate them about women’s reproductive health to help them rise to meet the challenges they face daily. This workshop will take place in Foncha-street Nkwen-Bamenda from the 28th–30th of July 2014 at the Ets.ALMA Cybercafé opposite Providence Clinic.
We intend to extend this training to women and girls entering their freshman year in university. Due to the limited internet access, high school students entering universities in Cameroon are not familiar with the internet’s power to help them research and enhance their studies. Those who go online simply use it to send or read emails and chat. These women and girls lack the basic skills to access the vast learning materials available on-line that can help them break the cycle of poverty and abuse so they can find their voice, improve their own situations, and effect positive change in their communities.
When Cameroon’s women and girls succeed, Cameroon succeeds!
Women and girls in Cameroon make up more than half of the population. They are the breadwinners and the backbone of our economy, yet they face harsh treatment due to outdated customs and traditions which hinder them. They are still regarded as their husband’s property, with limited rights in most communities. This workshop will enable them to become local community reporters who can share information and advocate for women’s rights and positive change for everyone.
Equipped with basic computer skills, like-minded people can come together to improve their skills and share their experiences. This will increase productivity and encourage innovation in their businesses and workplace. Togetherness and love will be fostered in young minds, who will then be positioned for the mentoring and training which will enable them to create and contribute to a better economic system in Cameroon.
Computers are tools needed by all women and girls for a rapid change! You Can Help!
There are plenty of steps we can take to strengthen our future, but first we need to take action. We shall be grateful if you would donate your used Internet-capable phones, computers or electronic gadgets to help women learn and participate effectively in our computer literacy workshop. We also need assistance in getting these devices safely to us in time for the workshop and would appreciate any suggestions or offers of help to bring donated devices to Cameroon so that we can make them available to the workshop participants.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +23733051311
Thank you for your support!
Computing is our Business!!!
Mother of Hope Cameroon website
Adah and her handwashing campaign team, 2011
I sincerely hope this strategy for empowering the women and girls of Mubang Ntsen Nkwen village in Cameroon is reaching into your heart as it has mine. You simply would not believe how much hope some basic computer skills can bring to these aspiring but oppressed women! I appeal to you to take a moment to visit the Mother of Hope Cameroon Indiegogo campaign page
and make a donation. Just $10 makes a difference (and your name will be added to the list of donors in all their promotional materials), $25 helps even more and gets you a bumper sticker about ending gender-based violence, $50 buys a digital device for one of the girls or pays for her transportation to the workshop, and those who donate $100-250 will receive a gift of handcrafted items made by the women of Bamenda, 250g of organic Cameroonian coffee produced without forced labor by the North West Cooperative Association (NWCA), or a 500g jar of native Cameroonian honey produced by the Bamendakwe Rural Women’s Development Organization (BARUWDO). Your donation must be received by July 17, 2014 in order to give Adah time to make the purchases and other financial arrangement she needs in time for the July 28-30 workshop.
For those to whom this kind of information is important, Adah Mbah is also a committed believer in Jesus and is counting on him to bring the help these young women need to change their lives for the better and bring hope to the future of Cameroon. “God will not fail me!” she says over and over, and your response to the tug in your heart that her words cause will make you God’s accomplice in doing something substantive to help 30 single mothers, young women and girls to overcome the very real challenges they face in Cameroon. Thank you so much for your donation in any amount before July 17, and for sharing with others who have the heart and a little cash to help! You can also show your support for the work Adah and her team are doing by liking the Mother of Hope page on Facebook.
Mother of Hope Cameroon’s Mission Statement:
MOHCAM is a non-profit organization of victims of gender based violence that provides security to the scared and unsure girls and women in communities in Cameroon. It’s aimed at fighting against the abuses faced daily by women and girls who become victims of gender based violence in communities. We ensure victims’ rights protection through advocacy and also aim at building future women’s rights leaders from victims. This in turns help to build a culture of empathy, justice, and peace from supported victim of violence. We also propagate a culture of peace building in homes and communities.
MOHCAM is based on implementing skills through local trainings on income generating activities for the empowerment and change towards acts of violence to secure girls and women victims of gender based violence. We work in partnership with schools and communities.
To establish a shelter home for victims of violence and to advocate for the implementation of family protection bill that can addresses domestic violence with prompt police response. And to establish a National Domestic Hotline for victims of gender based violence in communities.
MOHCAM is committed to ensure that all victims are able to regain and maintain a life of dignity and self-worthiness which will:
• Transform lives
• Motivate people to take action
• Promote social justice & human rights for girls and women
We value and believe:
• In an environment which enhances self-esteem and respect for all.
• That each individual is unique and of value.
• That we all have a responsibility to build a healthy community.
• In a holistic approach in working with individuals and community.
• In constant attention, sensitivity and flexibility throughout the ongoing process of relationship building.
• In ethical practices.
• In volunteerism.
• In innovation and creativity.
Lastly, if anyone reading this knows someone who will be traveling to Cameroon or a neighboring country between now and July 15 and would be willing to be a courier of digital devices, please contact me at email@example.com or Adah at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work out a plan to obtain and transfer devices for them to deliver.