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Cameroon/Nigeria

ACN rebuilds following the destruction of Boko Haram

In 2014 the Jihadist group, Boko Haram, came to worldwide attention when it kidnapped 276 female students, aged 16 to 18, in Nigeria. The hashtag trended globally, with 2.3 million tweets, including postings by leaders like First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

The kidnapping, as terrible as it was, was only one incident in Boko Haram’s long reign of terror. In the past six years Boko Haram’s raids on villages in Nigeria and neighbouring countries have displaced 2.1 million people from their homes; 1.4 million of these were children, according to UNICEF.  Many have fled from the northern Nigerian territories once controlled by Boko Haram into the interior of Cameroon.  Vast numbers of Cameroon’s own citizens, especially those along its frontier with Nigeria, have been displaced as well.

The group’s name, Boko Haram, means loosely “Western education is sinful.” The group’s targeting of schools, as in the case of the #BringBackOurGirls kidnapping, has been particularly devastating to Cameroon’s efforts to educate its children. Many schools in areas preyed upon by Boko Haram have simply been abandoned. In September of 2014, when students would normally be returning to school, 173 primary and secondary schools did not open their doors, leaving 25,000 students without a place to be educated.

Many of those students have moved into the Maroua-Mokolo diocese. This has created an enormous need for additional resources to be devoted to education.

 

Maroua Mokolo: Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo (Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo ) and Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme (from the diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria) at a camp for refugees and displaced people
Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo (Diocese of Maroua-Mokolo ) and Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme (from the diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria) at a camp for refugees and displaced people

Education is an expression of Christ’s love

Under the leadership of Bishop Bruno Ateba Edo, and his Vicar General, Monsignor Gilbert Damba, the Maroua-Mokolo diocese is responding. With support from the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), this year the Maroua-Mokolo diocese will pay school fees and provide school supplies for 1,000 displaced children. These children are being selected from among those in greatest need. Half of these scholarship students will be girls.

Other support will be extended as well, including the establishment for the children of official documents like birth certificates. Psychological counseling will be provided for those who have been most traumatized. These diocesan scholarship students will be spread over about fifty elementary and secondary schools, with each student attending the school closest to him or her.

The Maroua-Mokolo diocese will be enlarging facilities at its Catholic schools as well, building five new classrooms.  The displaced children’s program of the Maroua-Mokolo diocese is demonstrating that education is an expression of Christ’s love for each child, each person.  ACN has given $108,000 to help with the realization for this love.

 

By Harold Fickett / Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin

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