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The Baka ('pygmies') are one of the three groups of so called ‘pygmies’ who live in Cameroon. Over the years past, they have been projected as being Ape-like, mythical, primitive, backward, uncivilized and forest peoples. These age long derogatory stereotypes about the Baka continue to play a vital role in shaping their lives in society. They are marginalized, discriminated and are often the victims of various forms of violence. In the school setting (both primary and secondary) most especially, the children are perpetual victims of discrimination, insults, mockery which has ended up making many of the children suffer from stigma.
During my last trip there last January, I met with a group of eight boys seven of whom had dropped out of college because of insults and mockery. The other remaining one said he was determined to stay because he dreams to become the president of Cameroon when he grows up. I also met another one who was removed from class (secondary school) and sent to work as a labourer by his school principal who collected his wages until he could no longer stand the slavery and left the plantation. For over six years, this boy had been preserving his school uniform (which Plan International bought for him) with the hope that he will one day go back to school. I also met another girl who had been violently raped because the men believed that raping her will give them luck in all they did. She wished that she could become a judge and send her oppressors to jail but feared that she could not go pass secondary school because they are always insulted, mocked and discriminated. These are just a few of the many cases I have come across.
My project aims at linking these determined Baka children with their peers around the country, continent and globe such as to further boost their self esteem, sell their potential and enable them to become the initiators of the change that they want to see for their communities. The project also envisages a space for mentorship of these children by the interested public. To do this, the project intends to use mobile phones and a central internet centre such that the children can communicate with their peers , potential mentors and or human right activists/ law enforcement officials when their rights as humans are violated. In this way, the project will make available mobile phones to these children, and will act as the intermediary(mediator) between the children, their peers/Mentors and human right activist/ law enforcement officials . Upon the availability of funds, the project will organize for travel events for both youth groups abroad to visit and volunteer with 'pygmies' as well as enable 'pygmy' youths to visit their peers within the country, continent and globe if feasible. In this way, the project will contribute to social intergration of the Baka youths while also erasing the stereotypes and prejudices held againt them.