The 2020 edition of the annual youth leadership series — a 3-day fellowship that focuses on peace, active youth participation, democracy, and community empowerment, fondly called REPAIR has rounded-off in Yaoundé. Now in its 5th Cohort, REPAIR — an acronym for ‘‘Rebuilding Peace through Actions with Inclusive Reach’’ — was organised this year under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education (MINJEC).
Trainees and other dignitaries at the official opening ceremony on Wednesday 26th February, 2020
Some 40 trailblazers from diverse backgrounds across the different Regions of Cameroon, who each have a demonstrated track record of having led remarkable initiatives in the communities were drilled by experts (from different walks of life) on the different aspects related to the theme of REPAIR 2020, that is, “Youth participation in local governance and sustainable development.’’ Some modules handled during the interactive sessions were on — understanding Cameroon’s Public Investment Budget; decentralization and local governance; the Special Status as a third option; youth participation in local governance and sustainable development; community mapping; social auditing; the impact of conflict and peace in local governance and development; project proposal writing; etc.
At the official opening ceremony on Wednesday 27th February, at Hotel Yaafot, in the Province neighbourhood in Yaoundé, the representative of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, Mr. Ahanda Avoula Rene encouraged the young trainees to make the most out of the trainings, given that it was being held within a very important context of Cameroon’s peace, governance, democracy, and decentralisation process. He reminded the young leaders that each generation had its own challenge(s), and it was time for the youths of this generation to capture the light that would be shone on them from the trainings they would receive, and go brighten up their communities as pacesetters, so that Cameroonians can live in peace and harmony together.
On his part, the Executive Director of the convening Civil Society Organisation, the Network for Solidarity, Empowerment, and Transformation for All (NewSETA) — Mr. Ateki Seta Caxton stated that it was hoped that through the trainings, the youngsters would have their dreams accomplished, and that they would participate towards repairing our beloved nation Cameroon. He went further to encourage and remind them not to give up, and asserted that ‘‘the future belonged to those who don’t give up.’’
The trainings featured sports and keep fit exercises, panel discussions, and debates amongst others; and culminated in a socio-cultural jamboree on the closing ceremony in the night of Friday 28th.
At the closing ceremony in the evening of last Friday 28th, Mr. Ahanda Avouna Rene (of MINJEC) showered congratulations to the trainees.
‘‘Through your actions, I see positive energy, and hence positive community development in the days ahead’’, Mr. Avouna confirmed.
Likewise, the Executive Director of NewSETA, Mr. Ateki Seta Caxton, reminded participants at the closing about the indispensable role of peace, by stating that ‘‘if you looked for peace from the broader world, you would not find it. But if you started by being at ease with yourself, and then living in peace with your neighbours, you would find peace in the broader world.’’
The boot camp ended with an #ArmsDown Campaign, calling on all parties to the conflicts rocking Cameroon to drop their arms, especially those involved in the restive Anglophone (North West and South West) Regions.
Camaraderie and the flaunting of Cameroon’s cultural diversity were prominent during the fellowship.
As the trainees bid farewell on Saturday 29th, their testimonies attested that they had derived some reasonable dividend from the trainings, and were thus aptly-endowed with the right mind-set and requisite skills to positively-impact their respective communities.
‘‘I would like to say thank you [to the organisers of the REPAIR project], for all you do to us Cameroonian youths. Rest assured that all the lessons learned will not go [in vain]’’, Chatelle Ngabou (a participant from Littoral Region) stated.
‘‘I lack words to express my gratitude to you. Your programme is certainly the best experience of my [life]. Not only did you give us a treat, [but you] pampered us like little kings [and queens], but you also filled our containers of knowledge through the different lessons [taught]’’, she confessed.
‘‘We will do you honour by doing what you expect from us’’, Ngabou pledged.
‘‘[REPAIR], be proud of yourself, because you have just saved 40 young people’’, Ngabou recommended.
‘‘To all my co-participants, know that I am very proud of you. You are very adorable. I love your simplicity and friendliness. Despite our cultural and linguistic diversity, we were able to ally, unite and live in peace and love. What we need to do in our different communities is to share this overflowing joy with our peers’’, Ngabou admonished.
‘‘I have the firm assurance that we will all meet again in the second half [of REPAIR 2020 in June]. We are the light that will shine Cameroon and the whole world’’, Ngabou affirmed.
‘‘I returned from the fellowship with the strength, courage, and determination of a real amazon’’, Ngabou asserted.
In the words of Sebastien (a participant from Centre Region), ‘‘it was a wonderful and triumphant experience. I personally enjoyed it to the fullest. I love you all.’’
‘‘It was a unique moment sharing this wonderful space with…all’’, Patran Chia from South West Region revealed.
‘‘I would like to say thank you, especially to the organising members of the REPAIR programme, for all that you do: the lessons [we’ve] learned, the accommodation, [and] the vision [of the institution]. [I lack words]…to express my gratitude to you. It was a wonderful experience…’’, Francois, from Centre Region indicated.
‘‘I have the firm assurance that we will all meet again in the second half [of REPAIR 2020 in June]. We [were] born to shine’’, Francois confidently reiterated.
Cross section of some activities during #REPAIR2020.
One of the hallmarks of the REPAIR project is a commitment-to-actions. This is partly attained through a unique community-engagement strategy, commonly called Pass-it-On (PiO). PiO gives each participant the opportunity to build their prowess in leadership and organisation, by carrying out a step down activity in their place of residence or region of Origin — so as to strengthen knowledge on our democratic values amongst peers. This is an intermediary stage that not only engages participants with their communities, but is a sine quo non condition for eligibility for the second semester of REPAIR 2020.
NewSETA is a Cameroon-based Civil Society Organisation (CSO), the mission of which is, ‘‘strengthening institutional capacities, democracy, peace and empowering youths to be more responsible, creative and actively engaged in nation building.’’
The project was realised thanks to NewSETA’s partners, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).