Partners: Making A Difference In Cameroon (AEDVP)

The latest in our series of partner interviews is with Regina Afanwi Young. Liluye’s new staff writer, Sylvia Nalubega, interviewed Regina to find out more about her organization’s work.

How did you first start in this work with AEDVP?
My passion is to advance the right to inclusive services in education, health, and economic empowerment for persons with disabilities, especially those with hearing impairments as well as restoration of girls and women who have survived or are vulnerable to trafficking. This is founded in the challenging experiences my late sister went through as well as my son who is currently living with a disability. To support my son and other persons with special needs, I started learning sign language and took on a Master’s degree in special needs education which led me to form the foundation for the Association for the Empowerment of the Deaf and Vulnerable Persons (AEDVP) in 2016. Then again, I could not ignore the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) suffered, especially by women and girls with special needs as they depend on significant others for financial support. AEDVP grew to include other vulnerable persons, including survivors of, and those prone to, human trafficking.

What are your specific missions and goals?
AEDVP’s mission is to economically empower vulnerable girls and women, including those with disabilities, survivors of trafficking, and violence in any form. This is integrated with awareness in human rights and gender-based violence redress as well as providing referrals to those in vulnerable situations. Through my involvement with the She Transform Tech program with World Pulse, I support our women with hearing impairments to sell their products online where they use messages to interact with their buyers since they can read. 

I have currently reached out to over 65 girls, women and men with disabilities, including 35 girls with hearing impairments directly; whereas indirectly, we have reached out to at least 3,000 people through our online awareness campaigns on gender-based violence and anti-trafficking.

This is our goal..to improve the lives of persons with disabilities and those who have suffered from human trafficking. We are passionate about inclusive development in the community which we advance through sign language. Through this, persons with hearing challenges are able to not only access information but also give views and participate in community development. 

For instance, one of the girls we worked with had the unfortunate experience of having gone through multiple rapes. She could hardly communicate due to her speech impairment, hence no one believed her until she became pregnant. Her physical, mental health, and emotional well-being was severely affected, as a result. When she was referred to me, I took her for proper medical care and she underwent a lot of mental health counselling sessions. I enrolled her for vocational skills in design and she is currently making traditional dresses. Now, she is thriving, financially independent, and even though she has gone through a lot, especially the loss of her child, she is doing better with additional counseling and psychosocial support given to her.

Recently, in partnership with Liluye and Victor Lyons from Sessionwise, you took part in their PTSD training. Could you explain a bit to us about your experience with this training, your current involvement with the training, and how you think you’ll be using it with your future initiatives?
Through the sessions, I relived some of the trauma that I also experienced as a result of my husband being in jail. I am passing on this knowledge in trauma resolution that I acquired through this program to some of the girls and women with hearing impairments, especially those who have gone through trauma. Persons with disabilities undergo a lot of stress; trauma unique to them. Through the knowledge and skills acquired as well as the collaborators in Cameroon, I have been able to refer girls and women for more support. As a member of the North West GBV partners platform and the North West GBV platform, I do referrals to partner organisations who can offer their services when GBV survivors need psychosocial support. Moreover, we live in a region that has a socio-political crisis and coupled with the Corona pandemic, these girls and women have suffered a lot of loss in their lives. The training was therefore timely and has benefited a number of organizations that I collaborate with as well as the women. For instance, Victor has been able to train about 16 women that I directly work with to resolve a lot of trauma they have been going through. In addition, I have been able to personally provide sessions to trauma survivors, specifically, two other trainers, and three girls with hearing impairments.

Last year you worked with another Liluye partner, Mercy Seed Outreach (MSO), to distribute COVID and hygiene kits, and to present information on menstrual hygiene and GBV to empower eight trafficking survivors that have been part of the MSO program. Could you tell me about your collaboration, and if you intend to do more collaborative initiatives to help trafficked survivors?
Prior to working with MSO, I had limited awareness on issues of human trafficking. When I got more involved with Liluye and World Pulse, I began to appreciate their vulnerability, especially girls and women who were being trafficked. Through our partnership with Liluye, I was introduced to Fanwi of Mercy Seed Outreach whose work focuses on survivors of human trafficking. I realized that this was an overlooked group of people that was so vulnerable to gender-based violence and other forms of abuse and exploitation. As much as I wanted to reach out to them at that time through awareness raising, the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic could not allow me. Through more engagements with Fanwi and two of my collaborators, we reached out to eight trafficked survivors, and provided them with awareness on gender-based violence, providing information for referrals. We also sensitized them on COVID-19 prevention, and distributed COVID-19 and menstrual hygiene kits to them. I plan to do a number of activities with Mercy Seed Outreach through participatory approaches with the survivors, in the future. I am also engaging Fanwi on economic empowerment activities for girls and women who are survivors of trafficking. It is important to continue creating awareness on trafficking for both those who are prone to being trafficked, as well as the perpetrators.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I have a desire to pass on the knowledge and skills I have acquired from Liluye; to reach out to at least one girl or woman a day.

“I want to see a world where we give unconditional love to each other, especially women lifting up one another regardless of their race, nationality, financial status, or ability,” said Regina.

Where to send funding for your work?
To fund the work of AEDVP, please email Regina directly: aaedvp@gmail.com.

To find out more about AEDVP:
Visit AEDVP on Facebook: Agnes Association for the Empowerment of the Deaf and Vulnerable Persons

For more information about Victor Lyon’s PSTD training (SessionWise), or to support his international training program, please visit: SessionWise.org.

For more information about Liluye or to inquire about becoming a partner, please visit www.liluye.org/contact. Or, if you are interested in donating to Liluye, please visit: www.liluye.org/donate.

Regina was interviewed by Liluye Staff Writer, Sylvia Nalubega, who also writes on her blog, Sanyu Centre for Arts and Rights. Her personal message to everyone is, “We live beyond ourselves by sharing our story to hopefully impact a person.”

2 thoughts on “Making A Difference In Cameroon (AEDVP)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.