PROJECT TITLE: “WOMEN, PROTECT YOUR HEALTH AND FUTURE”
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM:
The spread of HIV/AIDS amongst youths has been a largely debated topic in Cameroon over many years, yet the fact that many young people get infected everyday with this disease is proof that there is enormous work left to be done on the ground. While attaining maturity and thus becoming sexually active, girls/women are particularly vulnerable.
Many factors contribute to the rapid expansion of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Cameroon with the leading role played by low condom use that stems from the shame that is associated with sexually active women. Women are supposed to remain in the sphere of the household, are perceived as inferior to the men in many ways and thus are perceived as the weaker sex, that needs to adapt to the men’s needs. As a result of the few economic opportunities available to women and the great power differential with men, they do not have the power to demand safer sex. Most women/girls tend to see the buying of condoms as a taboo as such, out of the shame of being stigmatized for being sexually active; they are forced to succumb to the preference of the men/boys, whom may decide in most cases not to use these condoms and thereby exposing them to high risk of disease contraction.
According to the National AIDS Control Committee Central Technical Group in their September 2010 Report, Cameroon’s HIV prevalence rate is estimated at 5.1 percent: the highest rate for the West and Central Africa sub-region, thereby slows economic development efforts and erodes the social fabric throughout sub-Saharan Africa.The National AIDS Control Committee/Central Technical Group (CNLS/GTC) in 2010 also estimates that there are 141 new HIV infections per day in Cameroon, which means six newly infected persons each hour, every day with women more likely to be HIV positive than men. Roughly three in five (60%) PLHIV are women. Thus, young women are especially vulnerable to HIV infection.Young women represent 7 in 10 of all youth ages 15–24 who are HIV positive.
Another issue that goes along with the low use of condoms is unwanted and early pregnancies. As observed by many anthropological studies (see Johnson Hanks 2002, 2005), many young women become pregnant while still attending school. As a result, they often drop out of school or have to give their child into the care of someone else. Often women get abandoned by their current boyfriend or lover ones they get pregnant and have to bear the task of raising the child by themselves and their families. The use of condoms gives women the opportunity to decide for themselves at what moment in time they want to become mothers. This is an important factor for the autonomy and self-determination of women in the society.
- The project “Women protect your Health and Future” is the brain child of Bridgers Association Cameroon that is aimed at creating an awareness on the proper usage of condoms amongst sexually active youths, especially girls, for the prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS and put an end to the stigmatization and shaming that goes along with buying condoms.
- This awareness would be done within school milieus as such; the targeted audience would be students in four secondary and three higher institutions in the Center Region (Yaoundé) of Cameroon within the period of one month and half. That is from April 1st to May 14th 2019. Then, on a long run, we plan to target 5000 Students in about 20 diffierent educational institutions and we want to achieve this until March 2020.
- We have the goal to change mindsets of young girls to have full control over their sexual lives in relation to the use of condoms and shun every trace of stigma that goes with the buying and negotiations of condoms usage during sexual intercourse.
- We aim at engaging young boys to collaborate with young girls in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDs.
- We have the vision to promote the reduction of the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst five thousand (5000) young Cameroonians that fall within the age range of 15-24 through our project.
- Furthermore, we wish to raise awareness of the self-determination of a Women’s body, so that she can decide herself at what moment in time they want to become mothers, so that they are able to follow other trajectories first, if desired.
- We shall spread a message filled banner at the entrant of each of these ear marked school campuses for a period of at least one week prior to and even after a formal awareness raising day.
- An awareness raising day shall be organized, which shall be characterized by demonstrative and interactive lectures on the advantages that go with the proper usage of condoms by both the male and female folks.
- This campaign shall be conducted in such that girls and boys will be receiving lectures concurrently at separate venues within the same campus in order to avoid uneasiness on the side of those who may feel shy of the subject matter being discussed in the presence of the opposite sex.
- During the awareness raising campaign there shall be the distribution of flyers to lay emphases on the discussed subject matter and all volunteers and facilitators involved in the realization of this project shall put on T-Shirts bearing educative messages relating to the spread of HIV/AIDS.
- We shall encapsulate the activities of the day with the free distribution of at least two thousand condoms to the youths concerned as a symbolic gift to encourage the usage of condoms.
Prior to the commencement of the project proper, a sampling survey shall be carried out with the use of questionnaires to ascertain the percentage of the targeted population that is willing to discuss or even admit the usage of condoms during sexual intercourse. At the end of this campaign there would be another survey conducted to get the new percentage from the sampling of the opinions of the same group on the same subject matter. A 70% increment in the number of youths willing to discuss the issue and admit the actual usage of condoms during sexual intercourse shall be considered to be a success.
This particular project is an all rounded project that is significant and required at all times; as such we intend to seek for more funding from other funders to ensure that this project is continued in this same venue and other venues to benefit a maximum number of Cameroonians, so that it can have an impact on a larger scale. However, this project remains in the pilot phase and it is important to pave the way for continuity owed to its success.
The feasibility of this project is eminent in that the targeted audience will be students and the venues will be their school campuses. Given that these students often come together on their respective campuses for the purpose of studies, they would be easily mobilized and a ready venue available. This project by nature upon implement will have a triple effect on the beneficiaries, as its not only going to guarantee a reduction in the spread of HIV/AIDs but would also minimize the spread of other transmissible diseases as well as unwanted pregnancies. As such it is bound to attract further funding and support from other sources.
Bridgers Association Cameroon was founded in 2013 but got its registration documents in 2016. Having both executive as well as advisory board members to oversee the smooth implementation of its plan of action, Bridgers is well coordinated towards service delivery especially with the assistance of consultants; resource persons; national partners as well as international partners:
- Favour Low-Cost Health Care Foundation (FALCOH)
- International Center on Environmental Education and Rural Development (ICENECDEV)
- Sustainable Agricultural Center for Community and Rural Development (SACRCOD) Buea
-Ministry of Women Empowerment and the Family
-Ministry of Social Affairs
-Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
- Girls Not Brides
- The Pollination Project
- Association for Women Rights in Development (AWID)
- Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SUSANA)
- NAMATI and Global Legal Empowerment Network
- Citizen Network
- Be Kind Network
- Charter for Compassion
- World Pulse
We currently have seven volunteers working with us on this project: Madam Negsang Sharon Andigema: A Senior State Registered Nurse and holder of a Masters Degree in Public Health and currently a PhD researcher in Public Health, Madam Tatoh Rose: Senior State Medical Laboratory Technician, Dana Elena Harms: A Master Student of Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Cologne -Germany (International Internee), Madam Ebai Suzan: a school Guidance counselor and a social worker; Senge Nadege: a YALI Alumni, Aneaka Carine: a community and a YALI Alumni and Qubeline Angawah: a graduate/community volunteer. All of them are joining the management staff including the Co-Founder –Abai Victor Asondo who holds a Masters degree in International Law (LL.M) and is a Government trained Technical High School teacher with experience in civil society work, motivational speaker and advocate for women. All under the coordination of the Coordinator Madam Azah Jackline Chey, holder of a Masters Degree in International Law (LL.M), and a Poet, interestingly she uses most of her poems to illuminate and thereby empower women to realize their full potentials; she has long experiences in social works as she had to volunteer with other organizations before Co-Founding Bridgers Association Cameroon.
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