PROJECT: RESCUE WOMEN CAMEROON
DIRECTOR: NAKINTI NOFURU
Rescue Women, founded by Nakinti Besumbu Nofuru, focuses on improving the welfare of women in Cameroon. The core of their work is a girl’s scholarship program – starting in the Toko Subdivision of southwestern Cameroon – a region consisting of 49 remote villages. These villages have no electricity or phone service, so Nakinti sent letters to the village leaders letting them know of the scholarship opportunity and her itinerary. She travelled by bus, motorbike and foot to get as close as she could to the villages, but 4 girls from a particularly remote village, along with their headmaster and village chief, still had to trek for 3 days through the jungle to reach Nakinti in hopes of being considered for a scholarship!
Girls are chosen based both on their poverty level and also their strong motivation to continue their studies. Only two villages in this sub-division have secondary schools that girls attend, so girls who receive scholarships must move to one of the two villages and find families that will house and feed them. So far, all the scholarship recipients have found homes! The scholarship program will be expanding to other parts of the Southwest Region in the years ahead.
In addition to the scholarships, in September of 2016 Nakinti started two “Girls Lead” clubs in the two Toko Subdivision secondary schools to try to stem problems such as high drop-out rates, teen pregnancy, crude abortions, poor menstrual hygiene and other issues that plague girls in these high poverty areas. These clubs are open not only to scholarship recipients, but to all girls in the high school. The girls are extremely excited about the clubs, never having heard of clubs for girls before. Mentors educate the girls on key topics and serve as role models to encourage their educational pursuits. Within a year, Nakinti is hoping to have opened 50 such clubs around Cameroon.
Scholarships and Girls Lead clubs are just the beginning. Two other difficult situations tug at Nakinti’s heart. First, maternal mortality is exceptionally high in Cameroon, and some villagers, having had no exposure to modern education, attribute death during childbirth to witchcraft. Second, typically the only source of income for women in these villages is to collect wild onions in the forest during the rainy season, but the price of these onions fluctuates dramatically from year to year – falling 75% in 2016, for example. She will be designing projects to address these issues in future years.
Nakinti received her undergraduate degree from the University of Buea Cameroon with a dual major in Women and Gender Studies/Sociology and Anthropology. She has also obtained a Master’s Degree in Women and Gender Studies, worked as a journalist for the Global Press Institute, and is currently a World Pulse Ambassador for Cameroon. Nakinti also works with Cameroon’s Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and the Family as the Regional Chief of Service for the Promotion and Protection of the Family and Children’s Rights for the North West Region. Her dream is to eliminate discrimination against women, especially in Africa. She is a creative and energetic leader that will indeed effect change in her country!