Success Story: Peace education for young people in Cameroon

For many years, Cameroon, located in Central West Africa with a population of almost 26 million, was regarded as relatively stable in comparison with its crisis-ridden neighbors. However, in 2016, protest marches began because many people in the English-speaking part of the country felt themselves to be oppressed by the larger, French-speaking part and began to demand independence. Subsequently these protests escalated into an armed conflict that endures to this day between separatists in the Anglophone provinces and the Francophone central government. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people have been made homeless, while thousands have lost their lives.

Children and young people in particular have become victims of the ever-present violence, and many are deeply traumatized. These young people also have few prospects of a better future or a meaningful way of life. Most of the schools in the region have been closed for several years, and the children are left to their own devices. Many adolescents have joined armed rebel groups and there has been an increase in drug addiction and promiscuity. In the long term, the lack of a school education will only result in still more people being plunged into poverty.

The Diocese of Mambfe, in the Anglophone region, has now introduced a one-year program of education for peace as part of its youth outreach, with the support of $20,200 from our generous benefactors. The aim of the program was to sponsor a culture of nonviolence and peace, since the violence has spread to every level of society – even into the families themselves.

“We must never forget that in an environment marked by violence and conflict, any form of effective evangelization is impossible,” says Father Roland Arrey, parish priest and leader of the youth outreach team. “Differences of opinion may well be unavoidable, but violence is not inevitable. If we are to avoid a ceaseless spiral of violence, we have to endeavor to promote peace and tolerance and not incite hatred and mistrust,” he adds.

For a year now, young people from all 27 parishes of the diocese have been meeting together once a month for a weekend training program that also includes community worship and shared prayer times. These courses are further complemented by radio broadcasts that can reach even the most distant villages.

“Our program is centered on Christ, the Prince of Peace, who longs to bring peace to our troubled and violence-torn world,” explains Father Arrey. “We are very enthusiastic about this project and very motivated by it, for it will benefit the youth especially, but at the same time all our parish communities as well.”

“We are very grateful to ACN and to all our benefactors!”

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