Prisca, Community Animator

SOCIAL COHESION

Prisca is a community animator for the "social cohesion" component of the RESILAC project. Through the project's partner in Cameroon, Diocesan Development Committee (contracted by CCFD), she is involved with women and young people in 8 cantons in the commune of Mora, in the far north region of Cameroon. She tells us about her investment, the role she plays with the people and the changes she has seen in the communities she supports.

Prisca.jpg
 

 « I am proud because today I serve as an example for          young girl in the villages » 

RESILAC

 "I am a community facilitator in the "Social Cohesion" component of the RESILAC project. I support women and young people in the structuring and development of associations whose aim is to strengthen social cohesion. I work in 24 villages with 33 associations, 18 of which is exclusively for women.

On a daily basis, I set up training courses to teach members how to structure their association, I monitor these associations, I organise inter-community dialogues to encourage the different communities to understand each other better and live together, and I also help the associations to make their voices heard by the authorities as an intermediary.

 

For example, with the women of a village, we have created a platform association called the "Association of Women United for the Development of Outogo*". This is a traditional dance association that brings together the other

associations in the village by informing them, proposing community activities and carrying out

actions that benefit the whole community. 

Even people who do not belong to a member association can join in the activities.

The local authorities are also always present at our activities. This platform association is a real

symbol of unity that carries out activities with everyone regardless of their ethnicity or religion.

But my role does not end there. Most of the people I meet suffer a lot in their daily lives, so

I help them and listen to them.

I was born and raised in a village a few kilometres from Mora, so I know the problems that

people face. Since I was very young, I wanted to contribute to the development of the region

in which I grew up, especially for women. Here, very few girls can go to school, less than 15 girls

in my village have been able to reach the bachelor's degree for example.

As a child, I saw my aunts working very hard physically without being independent.

I always told myself that I didn't want to be like them.

I wanted to be independent and do a job I liked, so I studied social anthropology to work with

the communities. I was lucky to be supported and encouraged by my parents. My mother

worked for more than twenty years as a nurse so it was inconceivable to her that I would stay

at home and be a housewife.

                                                                                           I like the fact that I am involved in the development of the villages in my area. I like my 

                                                                                  job and I like to see the changes I bring to the communities, especially for the independence

                                                                                          of women. I bring dynamism to the associations and women I support; I help them to                                                                                                    realise that they have a lot of potential and to have confidence in themselves.

                                                                                            In the beginning, women did not know that they could do things on their own without                                                                                                 the help of a man, and men did not trust them either. Even within their own                                                                                                                  association,  a man was appointed to make the choices for them. Over time, I have                                                                                                       seen several changes in women's attitudes.

                                                                                             By learning how to manage their associations, they have discovered that they can                                                                                                         implement impactful projects. They have much more confidence, they actively                                                                                                             participate in community dialogues, they take decisions for their associations, they                                                                                                       take initiatives and bring big changes in their communities. For example, in one of the                                                                                                 villages covered by the project, the men did not want to dig a well when there was                                                                                                         none.  The women had to walk miles to fetch water from the mountain. So they dug                                                                                                     the well themselves, which is called "the women's well".

Today, it is the husbands themselves who participate in the activities and come to me to get their wives involved in the associations. They see that they are doing good things for the community, that they are making things happen and that people are proud of them!

I'm proud of that because I broke down the prejudices that men had about women.

But it wasn't always easy. The first three months were difficult as a woman and as a young person, I am 26 years old.

It is an environment where women are not really recognised in society. They can't often speak in front of men, go to school or work. Once, during a community workshop I was facilitating, one of the community leaders who participated said, referring to me, 'what can this little girl tell us? He didn't think I could teach him anything.

But I imposed myself, I spoke, I made my introductions and he realised that I had taught him things and that what I was saying made sense; they were even impressed and came to talk to me at the end of the session.

I grew up in the local area so I know how to adapt to people and situations. I think that helps me to be accepted and I have a lot of humour too, which breaks the ice and makes it easier to connect with people. I really had to assert myself and adapt to contexts to show that as a woman I was just as capable as a man of speaking in public and making things happen."

 

What does 8 March mean to you?

"It is not just a day to dress up, go out and party. It is a day for women to get involved, to think, to make decisions in the community to make a positive difference."

*The name of the village has been changed

RESILAC

RESILAC