In 2013, SUSTAIN Cameroon initiated the pilot step to introduce workable approaches to child protection through mobilizing school administrators and some community leaders for them to identify the important role they play in providing children with a safe environment. Strengthening the approach required the introduction of mechanisms to empower women economically and ensure financial security for their families. It is additionally important to provide for the education, health, and wellbeing of their children and other OVCs identified in the rural communities as a means to provide primary protection against violence. In 2014, we received a grant from the Pollination Project to kick start activities towards introducing community models to combat violence against women and children and to contribute to ending hunger and poverty in milieus of rural communities for women and children.
Sustain Cameroon believes when children stay permanently in school and/or are linked to vocational skills training opportunities, there are fewer chances for their abuse. Efforts to maintain access to basic rights for women and children are perennial indicators for safe and secure environments for children to lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. Thus, steady access to sources of income for women, orphans and low-income households act as invaluable catalysts for children to assert themselves and achieve their full potentials. Our core approach and strategies to address the problems of child abuse in our communities are to:
- Improve on the income levels of women and girls in rural communities through the introduction of income generating activities and other income fetching schemes. Improved income levels will automatically provide them with the treasured financial security to build their resilience and perennially provide for their basic rights
- Ensure continued access to schooling and improve educational attainment for girls and orphans including children from low-income families.
- Support school re-enrollment and provide for sellable vocational skills. These skills will build opportunity for out-of-school vulnerable children and reinforce their resilience.
- Lead child protection and child sexual abuse prevention education, campaigns and activities with parents, teachers and school administrators and community leaders to encourage the initiation and development of community mechanisms and systems to prevent and protect children from sexual abuse and assaults.
Sustain Cameroon was stimulated by volunteering experiences in 2005 and was legalized in 2011 under the law of associations in Cameroon. The Team members were encouraged to create an association with the sole aim to provide alternatives to improving livelihoods and ending violence against children and women in Cameroon. Sustain anchors its strategy in providing direct assistance, leading key advocacies and strengthening capacities of these underprivileged to deal with obstacles to their growth in Cameroon.
Our motivation is entrenched in the fact that most advocacy efforts seemed to have ignored women’s ardent need for economic empowerment and growth that would build their niche and confidence for participation in public and private life. Our organization was guided with the philosophy that women’s lack of financial security exposes them and children to rights violations and exacerbates their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS and other related diseases. Thus, we were convinced offering them access to micro-credits and income generating activities would strengthen their financial independence; while advocating for their representation at the traditional councils. This participation will be an invaluable pacesetter for women’s human rights protection and a guarantee to meeting their socio-economic and political needs while contributing to governance at the grassroots and national levels. Sustain also envisions reducing child abuse in the community through enhancing a continued access to schooling for orphans and vulnerable children, children from low income household and out-of-school children while also providing drop out youths with opportunities for sellable vocational skills building.
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