Since 2018, Cameroon has continued to face a complex humanitarian crisis, impacting the lives of 3.3 million people. This crisis has led to families being separated and children left out of school for months or years at a time. For Children in Cameroon, Covid-19 is another obstacle to their rights to education.
Book Aid International has delivered around 60 Pioneer Book Boxes to Cameroon that, through the help of Non-Government Organisations, we sent to areas where libraries and schools are not able to be accessed. Filled with brand new books, the boxes act as not only a source of new reading material but a place to come to learn, be inspired, create connections and make friendships.
Sheera* is 13. She now lives with her grandmother as three years ago, her mother, father and siblings were killed by stray bullets in her village when the military attacked. Since then, she hasn’t been back to school.
Sheera was shown the Pioneer Book Boxes by her local Catholic Church, who have been reaching out to refugees since the unrest began. She now comes for holiday classes, and this is how she’s been able to read and write again. She tells us:
“When I grow up, I want to do Agriculture so that I can grow a lot of food, fruits, cocoa, coffee and plantains. So many people are hungry because there is no food. I want to feed the world with food from my farms.”
We did not have books to read until Book Aid International gave Pioneer Book Boxes to the Catholic priest and now we can read two or three days every week. I am so happy.
We also spoke to Tracy*, an 11-year-old who’s family store in the local market was burned during a bomb explosion. Her family lost everything, and she had to leave school to start selling on the road. Having access to a Pioneer Book Box has given her a chance to read and write again.
Whenever I read, I feel happy and I forget about all the bad things that happened.
Dedicated staff like Mary-Anne, Executive Director of Girls Against Violence, are key in helping children like Sheera and Tracy continue with their education. Twice a week, Mary- Anne takes the box to displaced children who have no books in their schools or home and children who have lost everything in the conflict.
Now they can read and write again and are ready for school.
“Initially, most could not read. The phonics books helped a lot. When we met Sheera in November last year, she was very shy because she could not read, but now she reads and writes well. If they didn’t have access to the Pioneer Book Boxes, this wouldn’t be possible.”
*Due to safety reasons, we have changed the names of the people we spoke to.