With the children in the IDP camps

In August 2021, during our General Chapter in France -Ile-Blanche-, in the exchanges with Sister Revault on my mission in Cameroon, I told her about my work with the displaced in the field of health and nutrition, of what I felt about the children who are often abandoned to themselves. They receive humanitarian aid to pay for their studies until the end of primary school and then nothing to continue their studies in secondary school. As their parents cannot take over, due to lack of means, these young people remain in the camps without doing anything. With the help of Sister Thérèse Revault, I set up a project so that these children could celebrate Christmas and the end of the year. For me, it was a way of allowing them not only to be like the other children, but also to blossom and share the joy.

On my return from France, I organised a meeting with the people in charge of five camps for displaced people in Zamay, a town in the Far North region of Cameroon where the State takes in people who have left their villages because of the exactions of Boko Haram.

During this meeting, I presented to the authorities my desire to celebrate Christmas with the children, its feasibility… We defined that it would be for the children aged 10 to 15 from these displaced families in the Zamay camps. The project aimed to prepare gifts for them by organising a tournament of games and events: football, concerts, art/culture. I therefore mobilised the Sisters and associates of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit, the Daughters of the Community and the friends of Ile Blanche. I also solicited requests for financial or in-kind support from friends and colleagues to help me with this project on an exceptional basis. With the funds received, we bought gifts, clothes and food for the festive meal.

We started with the football tournament with 4 teams of girls interspersed with the resistance races for the boys, followed by football matches of 4 teams of boys interspersed again with the resistance race for the girls.

It was an emotional time for the children, the parents, for us Daughters of the Holy Spirit, and for everyone! The children were happy with their gifts, their new shirts and ‘boubou’ (large floating tunic, worn as clothing by both women and men). The best boys’ and girls’ teams played the final with races and concerts by different groups: the best ones received prizes.

Dances, the presentation of gifts to the winners and a festive meal closed these days of “Christmas in solidarity”.

Sister Marcelline ITETSHI, FSE, Djarengol community. Maroua. Published on 14 January 2022