Restoring hope for children in Cameroon
Protecting futures by ensuring access to education
Abakar Hamadou dreams of becoming a teacher so that he can help children who have had a difficult start in life.
He is only thirteen years old.
“I want to become a teacher when I grow up and help children complete their studies, especially children like me who have faced many difficulties in finishing school - such as my friend Souleymane."
"His father died and his mother abandoned him three years ago. Neither he, nor any of his brothers and sisters, go to school."
But it was not long ago that Abakar was forced to drop out of school himself, unable to afford his education – his hopes of achieving his dreams almost non-existent.
“My daddy died when I was still very small, and my mum left us to move to Mokolo 3 years ago,” Abakar explains. “I haven’t seen her since.”
Helping out with odd jobs at the market in his home village of Boukoula in Cameroon, Abakar has always had to work hard to scrape together enough money for his school fees.“My older brother Moktar, who is a construction worker at the village market takes care of me. Two years ago, I worked in a restaurant washing the dishes. Moktar supplemented the little money I could earn, which allowed me to continue my education.
Yet the brothers’ situation became more and more difficult, and despite their best efforts, Abakar was forced to drop out of school when they could no longer afford the fees. The Far North Region of Cameroon remains heavily affected by deteriorating insecurity, which has led to a mass displacement of people within the region as well as a large influx of Nigerian refugees from across the border. Children who cannot afford to stay in school have been left particularly vulnerable.
International Medical Corps is on the ground, providing emergency support to crisis-affected communities in the north of the country with support from the European Union. As part of this work, child-friendly spaces have been set up where children like Abakar can go for free to spend time together in a positive learning environment.
One day, an International Medical Corps social worker visited the restaurant where Abakar was working at the time. “I explained the situation to him and we talked for a while,” the young boy says. “He also came a few days later with a colleague to meet my brother and speak to him about my situation, and being out of school.”
Abakar learned about the child friendly spaces where he could meet other children in similar situations and take part in educational activities, such as sewing and embroidery. The young boy also received a school supply kit containing notebooks and a ballpoint pen, as well as other essential items, such as soap, towels and bed sheets for himself and his brother.
“My social worker took me to my old school where I was readmitted into class by the head teacher,” Abakar adds gratefully. “With the support my brother and I have received I have been able to complete the first term, and I can now continue my education.