Cameroon: Govt to Rehabilitate Street Children

Cameroon: Govt to Rehabilitate Street Children
The Post (Buea)

28 April 2008
Posted to the web 28 April 2008

Elvis Tah

In its efforts to transform the lives of street children, the government of Cameroon is working on a national programme geared towards the rehabilitation of more than 800 in that category.

In line with the programme, the Southwest Provincial Delegate of Social Affairs, Fon Valentine Asongtia Foreke, recently disclosed to The Post that his Delegation has put a good number of the street children in rehabilitation centres.

"We have counselled some of these street children, opened up a mechanic and carpentry workshop for them in Tiko. We have enrolled more than 25 of them in Kumba, from FCFA 4 million given by the government. We also give them psychosocial assistance," said Fon Asongtia.

Quizzed on what his Delegation is doing to reintegrate these children with their families, the Delegate said most of the children tell lies and give wrong information about themselves and their families, thereby making it difficult for the social worker to get in touch with their real families.

That notwithstanding, Fon Asongtia said his Delegation has been able to reunite some of the children with their families or provide them with a trade."Concerning those who came about as a result of the "oga" syndrome (master-servant contact), we try and educate their masters and see if they could be reintegrated or learn a trade," said Asongtia.

The Delegate added that in line with the national programme, the Borstal Institute in Buea is undergoing rehabilitation to create trade departments that can render the children economically self-sufficient.

Still expounding on the Borstal Institute, Asongtia said there are two placement procedures there: judicial and administrative."The judicial placement is when the children or minors are sent to the institute by a magistrate as a result of a crime they committed. Under this placement, the institute informs the court on the changes of the child’s misdemeanours behaviours.

"Under the administrative placement, the minor is handed over to the institute by a social worker or a family who finds him/her obstinate. The institute informs the court before accepting the child," the Delegate said.

He pointed out that the Delegation also sponsors a Grade I teacher who teaches the minors at the Buea Central Prison, all of these is in a bid to eradicate juvenile delinquency.

Apart from mad people that wander about the streets, many children are increasingly joining them. They are found mostly inhabiting bus stops and video game houses. Some of these street children sleep on the verandas of off-licences and bars, and in abandoned or uncompleted houses.

In Douala, the Catholic Cathedral seems to be providing a safe haven for them where many have their beddings under a tent, where they retire from their daily activities to doze.

These street children come from different backgrounds and for various reasons; those who break up from their families because of disequilibrium and those who get to the streets because they have a misunderstanding with their benefactors or masters.

Some of such children are of Nigerian origin who are brought to Cameroon to serve as shop keepers or house helps, and after a misunderstanding with their masters, they flee to the streets.

A majority of such children are found in Kumba and Tiko in the Southwest Province.

The second category of street children are those who are actually living with their parents or guardians but are out of school, probably to hawk and supplement the family income.

The third category is of Arab extract that move along with their mothers, in markets and strategic places to beg for money.

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Street children: a collective responsibility

20/03/2008: The Ministry of Social Affairs has launched a nation wide campaign to recuperate street children in all major towns in Cameroon.

Within the framework of the project, employment and social assistance shall be made available to the street children in other to facilitate integration within their various families. The project which is in its pilot phase shall focus on some 800 children.

Before the execution phase of the project, a training session to acquaint provincial and community resource persons was organised. The session, organised in Yaoundé delved on the complexity of the phenomenon in Cameroon.

The Minister of Social Affairs, Catherine Bakang Mbock announced plans to provide psychological and moral assistance to the children within three years before they reintegrate their families.

In Yaounde, street children hovering around public places, train stations and motor parks have been a course for concern. As young as 13years, some of these children have been left to fend for themselves. They are commonly associated with theft, drug abused sometimes rape.

The ministry of social affairs insist the reintegration is a collective responsibility, exhorting the populations to be part of the exercise.

Pamela Bidjocka, Editor

Cameroon: Pickpockets Invade Yaounde Streets

Cameroon: Pickpockets Invade Yaounde Streets
Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

April 12, 2007

Elizabeth Mosima

Taxi drivers are the target of the new breed of bandits.

Its 10:30 am in Yaounde. The famous Avenue Kennedy is as busy as usual. Teponno Martin, (49) a taxi driver in Yaounde, finds it difficult to collect pick up passengers. He can barely hear the destinations of passengers because all the car windows are winded up. It is normal. There are pick pockets around. He recounts that he has been a victim of robbery twice. In the first incident, the sum of CFA 5000 was stolen from his vehicle. According to him, the children surround the vehicle and use tactics to distract the driver and before he knows it, they have made away with any thing they can lay hands on.
Africa 2007

A lady (names unknown) is also reported to have lost the sum of CFA 1.8 million at the same venue last December 2006. Eyewitness reports say, the lady was deceived by the street children that she had crushed the leg of one of them. Before she could get out of her car to help the alleged victim, the thieves had made away with her handbag which was at the passenger side of the vehicle. Movement of people and vehicle has become risky in the area which is the busiest part of the town. Some individuals have taken to pick pocketing as a means of earning a living. Usually, street children are accused of such irresponsible acts. The busy nature of the area gives an opportunity for thieves to carryout their dangerous acts. Taxi drivers are the target of such hideous activites.

Despite the presence of a police post in the place, no one seems to be scared. According to Police Officer, Awomo Augustine of the Police Post, several cases of pick pocketing are reported daily in the police post. He however explained that the pickpockets are not only street children. Most of the hawkers who sell items such as second hand telephones around are also pickpockets. "Street children participate rarely in such acts. In most cases they are in complicity with these people who loiter around", he said. "These children steal money to buy food and also shoe gum which they inhale as drug," he added. According to him, when cases are brought to them they are sent to the first Police station where procedures are followed for legal action. He said private car owners are more exposed to such acts. He therefore appealed to all car owners to wind up their glasses when passing around the area especially at the traffic light, be more vigilant and to watch out for shouts of people who are out to deceive them.

According to another Police Officer, Mboudwe Joseph, of the Centre Provincial Division of the Judicial Police (DPPJC), cases of pick pocketing are transferred to the different police stations for court procedure. He said cases that are not serious are dealt with at the police station but the difficult ones are handled at the Centre Provincial Division of the Judicial Police.

The Post Online (Cameroon): Are NGOs And CIGs Performing Their Tasks?

The Post Online (Cameroon): Are NGOs And CIGs Performing Their Tasks?

Blogged story from Cameroon newspaper about street children and ngos.

"…Street children, as young as 10, have taken the Bamenda Municipal Stadium as a home, engaging in drug consumption. They also engage in robbery as pass as porters, targeting housewives who go to the market on a daily basis. They also live in school fields, cemeteries especially at night where they do awful activities like casting dices, playing cards, draughts, and many other dangerous games. Franklin Soh is an underprivileged child who roams the streets in Bamenda. He blames his mother for her irresponsibility, which led him into the streets. His mother did not only refuse to show him his father when he demanded to know him, but did not send him to school as well…."

Street Children On the Increase in Douala

Street Children On the Increase in Douala

The Post (Buea)

June 15, 2006
Posted to the web June 15, 2006

Joe Dinga Pefok

The number of street children in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital has attained an alarming proportion, administrative authorities have said.

Speaking on June 12 in Douala while launching weeklong activities to commemorate the 16th edition of the Day of the African Child, slated for June 16, Littoral Governor, Gonoukou Haounaye, announced a number of measures envisaged to help tackle the situation.

The Governor disclosed that a census of street children in Douala will soon be carried out. He said the government wants to reintegrate them into the society as fast as possible. He admitted that for now there is no statistics about street children which government can use.

Though he did not explain how the census will be carried out, given that street children do not have any fix location, Mr. Houanaye said the census would enable the government and related partners map out an appropriate strategy on how to reintegrate them into the society.

He said the state-owned Reformatory Centre for Minors at Bepanda, Douala, will soon be renovated and be transformed into a Reference Centre for street children.

Abusing A Child’s Right

Commenting on this year’s theme: ‘A right to protection, stop violence on children’, Haounaye said the government is planning a better legislation to protect the rights of the child. The Governor condemned the persistent abuse of children’s right in the family.

Besides sexual abuse, which some children continue to suffer in their families, he mentioned abandonment, forceful marriage, overwork, torture, starvation and denial of access to education.

Why They Become Street Children

Speaking in a specialised programme over CRTV Douala Wednesday, June 14, Littoral Provincial Delegate of Social Affairs, Samuel Njock, said irresponsibility of some parents and guardians and persistent maltreatment of children cause them to flee their homes.

But Njock noted that some stubborn children take to the streets because they do not want to submit to the authority of their parents. He also talked of children who are misled by their friends to run away from home. Njock cited cases where children take to the streets due to inevitable circumstances.

If the authorities are getting worried about the increase in the number of street children, it is because of the rising crime wave in the city, involving many street children. These children mostly hang out in the busy commercial streets of Akwa during the day and sleep at the corridors of the commercial buildings in the night.

Street children are said to mostly start off as ‘pick pockets’. With time, they gain more and more experience, and eventually move into big robbery operations. Most of those who grow to start participating in big banditry operations are said to leave the street for hotels, or put up with women.

They generally smoke marijuana with impunity, and are also notorious for rape, especially at nightfall.

PMUC Stays With Street Children

PMUC Stays With Street Children

The Post (Buea)

January 20, 2006
Posted to the web January 20, 2006

Joe Dinga Pefok

The General Manager of Pari Mutuel Urbain Camerounais, PMUC, Jean-Dominique Casamarta, recently reassured the management of Foyers Saint-Nicodème, a chain of homes for children taken off the streets in Douala, of the company’s support.The re-assurance was manifested by the signing of another annual convention with Foyers Saint-Nicodème.

Casamarta, who travelled to one of the homes located at PK 24 in the outskirt of Douala, signed for his company, while the Head of Foyers Saint-Nicodéme, Sister Marie Roumy, signed for the charity.

Saint-Nicodéme receives financial assistance from PMUC thanks to the convention, which has been on for over seven years. Each year, PMUC dishes out in four instalments, a total of FCFA 4 million, which puts it at FCFA 1 million every three months.

The money is used to provide the basic needs for the children, which include their education or training. The convention is said to fall within the social policy of PMUC.

It was in line with this commitment that Casamarta handed over a cheque of FCFA 1 million, as well as material donations which included books, footballs, volleyballs, edible items among others worth a total of FCFA 500,000, to Foyers Saint-Nicodème.

Speaking at the ceremony, a representative of the children, lauded the constant support of PMUC to Foyers Saint-Nicodème, for their interest. He was full of praises for PMUC’s concern for the under privilege in the society, noting that the company wants them to also have a good up bringing like their fortunate mates in the society.

The Head of Foyers Saint-Nicodème, thanked PMUC for its fidelity as regard its constant financial support. Sister Roumy noted that the charity, which is today ten years old, is functioning thanks to a great extent to the regular financial and material assistance of PMUC.

She noted that it is quite expensive to run the homes, as the children’s education or training cost so much.

Casamarta, on his part, noted that the lodging, feeding, training, health and moral up bringing of the children can never be an easy task. He appreciated the wonderful work, which Sister Roumy and her collaborators are doing at the charity.

Turning to the children, Casamarta exhorted them to take full advantage of the opportunity being offered to them, not only to re-integrate into the society, but to learn a trade or work hard to succeed in their education, so as to be responsible members of the society tomorrow.

He pledged the continuous support of PMUC to Foyers Saint – Nicodème, which mission he re-iterated, falls in line with the company’s social policy as the people’s enterprise since it was launched in 1994.