In 2014, a second wave 140,000 of refugees arrived from the Central African Republic fleeing violence between conflicting armed groups. Most people lost everything during the journey to safety in Cameroon.
The Jesuit Refugee Service runs five schools in eastern Cameroon for approximately 3,300 refugee and local students. The classes include civics, French, geography, history, math, and the sciences.
Sidiki Yaoba, 11 years old, fled his village in Central African Republic after militants raided his village with machetes, killing one of his classmates. After three days on foot, he arrived to Cameroon, where he attends the Jesuit Refugee Service school in Kette. He likes geography and history and wants to be a trader one day. His drawing shows life before and after displacement, in his eyes.
-- Ismaela, 9 years old, fled the war in Central African Republic after her older sister was killed. She now attends the Jesuit Refugee Service school in Kette and sells mangos on the side to raise money for her family. She likes mathematics and wants an office job someday.
Juilen Abibot Assingassie, Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service school in Boubara, Cameroon, says that he created a student parliament at the school, so that the student voices can be heard and they can learn about civic participation.
“The first thing to do is to physically have the children in the school. Some come with no documents and you don’t know their age, so you have to estimate and place them in that grade. They we assess how they’re doing and adjust as necessary,” said JRS Boubara School Director, Julien Abibot Assingassie.
Many local and refugee women from Central African Republic are part of the Parent-Teacher Associate which helps give members of the community a voice in how the education system is conducted in the Jesuit Refugee Service schools in eastern Cameroon.
The Jesuit Refugee Service runs an Adult Literacy programme in eastern Cameroon to help refugee and local adults learn basic French, counting skills and money management. Many women participate in the programme.
-- "The Adult Literacy Programme helps us greet our neighbours in our new community and help our children with their homework. Also, knowing the language helps us shop in the market, to know the French names of items and how to give and receive change properly. It makes us autonomous."
Apou Charlotte is a Cameroonian woman from Boubara town. As refugees arrive from the Central African Republic, she welcomes them into her homes. She attends the Jesuit Refugee Service Adult Literacy Class and is the vice president of the Parent-Teacher Association.
Ramadou fled the war in Central African Republic, and while in transit, her child was kidnapped. She made it alive, and was hosted by a local woman, Apou Charlotte, in her home when she arrived to Cameroon. "Apou became like a mother to me, in a place where I don't have my mother." Ramadou attends the Jesuit Refugee Service adult literacy classes in Boubara, Cameroon.
Hamidou Bouba used to have a successful motorcycle repair shop in Central African Republic before he had to flee to Cameroon. He arrived to Cameroon with nothing and is trying to rebuild his business from the ground up. The Jesuit Refugee Service Adult Literacy Class, he says, helped him to learn the French names of tools, etc. so he can do business in Cameroon. (
Adamou Koune was a herdsmen with over 400 cows, sheep and horses. He fled Central African Republic after two days hiding in his home with fighting outside. He traveled three and a half months on foot to Cameroon and later became a student in the Adult Literacy Class programme in Kette, Cameroon. The class teaches adults French language, counting skills and how to manage money.