Dear folks at A2Empowerment,
We are the Leading Ladies of GBHS Mbankuong, a girls’ club comprising of scholarship recipients for the 2015/2016 academic year.
We are writing to express our sincere gratitude towards your organization. Many of us are orphaned by at least one parent and finding school fees is a challenge, especially this year in the face of poor yields on our farms and at our fisheries. Through the A2Empowerment scholarship we feel proud that we have made it at least a bit easier on our parents and relatives at the start of the school year.
We are also writing to share with you some of what we, as a club, have been doing around our community. As scholarship recipients we have worked hard to become role models in our school community in order to encourage our friends and classmates to work hard and get involved with school, too.
In November, our club leader, Madame Nkili, raised a small fund for a few activities for us to do around school and the community. The first was to paint a World Map in our school compound. We painted the map in four days! It was a lot of work but we are very proud of our addition to the school campus. It stands in the main courtyard so that everybody can see it and use it as reference for their classes. We had so much fun painting the World Map. It was actually our first time ever painting. We made a few mistakes, but at the end of the process our classmates and teachers were really proud of and impressed with us. It is awesome to think that we can return to the school after we have graduated and still be able to see our mark on our school community. As Carine said, “Now everyone can learn and be proud of how beautiful our school campus is.”
Along with our World Map, we participated in a World AIDS Day testing event in Ndop, our divisional capital. We traveled there (about 45 minutes) during a school day to help nurses from our district hospital and two organizations called Ndop AIDS Fighters (NAFI) and Knowledge for Children put on a large education and testing event in the market and at the Grand Stand by the Mayor’s office.
The day began with a parade along the main street of Ndop. The night previous we made posters and hats that informed people about HIV and the testing event. After that we helped set up the testing hall and listened to many speeches made by community officials. Then the real event began. We had so much fun welcoming people to the event and working as runners between different stations. An hour into the event five of us actually started to give condom demonstrations to our guests!
We spent the day working with our peers, as most of the people coming to the event were local high school students from the school across the street. We really enjoyed encouraging our fellow youth and each other to learn about HIV and sexual health. The condom demonstrations were a very popular station. Many of our peers started to ask us questions about sexual health and HIV, and it was really empowering to be able to answer those questions on our own. Sometimes being from a very small village it is hard to earn the respect of the ‘town kids,’ but by working hard and being able to answer their questions we became the experts and felt very respected.
By the end of the day all ten of us had also gone through the testing event. We went to pre- test counseling, did the test and at the end had post-test counseling. It was our first time getting tested, and we are proud to say that we are negative and will work hard to remain that way! Something we took away from the event was that even though we may be negative, we still have a responsibility to help our community and those living with HIV/AIDS.
We really could not have done any of this without A2Empowerment. We are so very thankful for the hard work you are doing to help the girl child in our country. Hopefully by reading about all the work girls are already doing in Cameroon for their communities it will inspire others to become leaders, too.
The Leading Ladies of GBHS Mbankuong have a motto: Hardworking and friendly girls are the leading ladies of tomorrow.
Thank you for your hard work and friendliness towards the girls of Cameroon. We hope you had a very happy new year.
With our warmest regards.
The Leading Ladies of GBHS Mbankuong
Here are some photos from our world map project and HIV testing event: World Map Project:
Nathilda, Carine and Favour are learning how to transfer the smaller outlines onto the wall.
￼All ten of us and Madame Nkili drawing the outline of the map on the wall.
We made a few mistakes, but in the end everything got corrected! Oops!
￼We then started to paint! It was our first time ever painting – so this was our favorite part!
Even our Principal got involved! He had never painted before either.
￼We made sure Cameroon was very visible on the map!
￼Here’s the finished product! From the left: Vanessa, Halima, Madame Nkili’s Mom, Sylvia, Nathilda, Prudencia, Favour, Delphine, Madame Nkili, Carine, and Elizabeth. Annabel had to leave early this day.
HIV Testing Event:
We first went into the market with our signs and passed out flyers about the HIV event.
Then we lined up with our posters to start the parade! Here are Sylvia, Elizabeth and Halima with their homemade posters.
￼Vanessa, Favour and Nathilda with their signs.
From the left: Carine, Annabel, Nathilda, Prudencia, Vanessa, Delphine, Sylvia, Halima, and Elizabeth ready for the parade to start!
￼We even made signs in Pidgin! Annabel’s hat says: Wear Plastic, It’s Fantastic!
We weren’t told how far to parade so we ended up walking the entire length of Ndop.
￼Here we are marching down Long Street with our posters. We shouted things like, “Know your status!” and “Act Up, Fight AIDS!”
￼We then did condom demonstrations to our peers in Ndop high schools. It was at first a bit awkward but by the end we gained confidence and had so much fun talking to fellow students about condoms, HIV, and sexual health. Here are Favour and Sylvia demonstrating how to use a condom to a group of students on their lunch break.