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 started as a girl’s scholarship program in the Toko Subdivision of southwestern Cameroon, a region with 49 villages with no electricity or phone service. When we chose to partner with Nakinti to provide scholarships, she notified the village leaders 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! From there she added “Girls Lead” clubs to curb high dropout rates, teen pregnancy, and other issues that plague girls from areas with extreme poverty, a maternal mortality reduction project aimed at training traditional midwives, and a microfinance project to help women start small businesses.
When war broke out and forest villages were systematically burned to the ground, our projects had to change drastically. As village after village fell victim, families fled deeper into the forests to hide. Young people are gradually making their way out of the jungles to towns like Kumba and Limbe, but with only agricultural skills and no land, they often must resort to prostitution or crime to survive. Families with young children, the elderly, and the crippled who are unable to make the difficult journey out of the war zone have remained in hiding in the deep forests. The focus of our partnership with Nakinti rapidly changed to respond to this humanitarian crisis.
With funding help from Oroko communities in the United States and South Korea, we have sponsored several dangerous forays into the jungle with food and medical supplies to help the suffering families hiding in the bush and in a refugee camp across the Nigerian border. We are also focused on training young women who escape the forests with skills that they can quickly put to use to earn an income in a town environment – thus protecting them from prostitution. We continue funding scholarships for children who were able to relocate out of the active warzone but, sadly, had to discontinue many others because schools are not operational in our original project area.
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.
Partnering with Global Pearls greatly increased the scope and visibility of her work, and, as a result, she has twice been chosen as a World Pulse Impact Leader in 2016 and 2017, received the “Women Have Wings” award in 2017 which is given to women “of extraordinary courage and action,” in 2018 was chosen by the U.S. Embassy to represent Cameroon at a “Women in Leadership” conference held in the United States, and the U.S. Embassy is now sponsoring a Rescue Women project “strengthening the leadership capacities of young girls in Cameroon.” 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!