Nearly 71 million people have been forcibly displaced due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations out of which 1 in every 5 experiences severe or mild trauma(WHO).
Without ample care, traumatized victims, especially the younger ones are resorting to vengeance ,perpetuating the cycle of violence and ills like child militarization are on the rise. Human Rights Watch reports that more than 120,000 children under 18 years of age are being used as child soldiers across Africa, some of which are below 7 years old.
When the Ambazonia war broke out in Cameroon, some of my relatives were killed and some took up arms and became combattants out of war trauma.
With my team at Positive Youths Africa(PYA), I initiated the Afrogiveness project coined from 2 words “Africa” and “forgiveness” to help young mentally traumatized refugees and victims of war heal through forgiveness as a means of countering violent extremism.
The Afrogiveness operates both physically and digitally to arm traumatized refugees and Internally Displaced Persons(IDPS) with the necessary psycho-social and spiritual empowerment to transform their pain to purpose while catering to their basic educational, legal and health needs and nurturing their artistic and innovative abilities. Our overall aim is to transform them from victims of war to agents of sustainable peace.
Physically, we target traumatized refugee children and teenagers aged 7 to 19 who were orphaned, caught in stray bullets,radicalized to violence or taken as war prostitutes. We unite them in Afrogiveness therapy sessions during which we employ culturally competent psychologists to help these children positively manage their thoughts and emotions while living joyfully in the present. We further employ professional artists to hone their artistic talents in poetry,music,drawing and drama so they can release with a positive effect. Owing to severe health challenges faced by the traumatized youths, we launched the African Initiative for Health and Research Promotion(AIHRP) to offer high quality healthcare to refugees and IDPs. AIHRP compliments the Afrogiveness by offering pro borno and subsidized general and specialized health care consultations,minor surgeries, laboratory examinations and basic pharmacy facilities, vaccination for children and health motivation talks. We further offer scholarships to teenagers who intend to make good their situation an opportunity to study while nurturing their artistic and innovative abilities.We teach them how to read,write and speak the language of their host country while empowering them to innovate as they learn income generating activities.Our physical activities are crowned by the Harmony Show, an annual show which unites lawyers,donors, decision makers and the public as well as the young refugees and IDPs to network and share resources. It is also a platform for Afrogiveness beneficiaries to express their arts, sell their innovative products, raise funds but also advocate.
Digitally, we create an online support system and advance digital access to traumatized refugees and IDPs aged 20 to 30 years old.Through the Online Peace Education Fellowship for Refugees(OPEFR) which operates via whatsApp groups and an upcoming mobile App,we unite refugees and IDPs with medical doctors, entrepreneurs, psychologists, lawyers and mentors in their communities who offer pro-borno or subsidized educational, legal and medical guidance . This is supported by the #DigiHaves campaign aimed at digitally equipping refugee camps with internet access, smartphones and laptops so they can tap the limitless opportunities that information technology offers.
By operating both digitally and physically, we make our work scalable as we can touch all youth age groups anywhere in the world who are digitally accessible or not.
By trying to heal both invisible and visible wounds of war, we make our work sustainable so it can have a ripple effect not only on individuals and communities but generations of refugees at large.
I dream of a world where there would be no need for me to do #Afrogiveness because there would be lasting peace and prosperity.