ACN Success Story: Cameroon

Peace education for young people in the Diocese of Mamfe

For many years, the country of Cameroon in Central West Africa, with its population of almost 26 million, has been regarded as relatively stable in comparison with its crisis-ridden neighbours. However, in 2016 there were protest marches because many people in the English-speaking part of the country felt themselves being 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 the 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 in the conflict.

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

The Diocese of Mamfe, in the Anglophone region, introduced a one-year program of education for peace as part of its youth outreach, with the support of $30,000 from our generous benefactors. The aim of the program was to promote a culture of nonviolence and peace, for the violence has spread to every level of society, including within family units 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 must endeavour to promote peace and tolerance and not incite hatred and mistrust,” he adds.

A program focused on Christ, the Prince of Peace

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, which 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 centred 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 the benefactors!”

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