Engaging Policy Makers and National Leaders as a Grassroots Women Leader

Emily Miki
Posted October 11, 2018 from Cameroon
SNWOT Lamentation Campaign
Together with women leaders of the South West we joined forces to lament and cry for a cease fire and call for dialogue
Engaging with Mr Maurice Kamto
Engaging with Mr Maurice Kamto: Engaging with Mr Maurice Kamto Presidential Candidate of CRM Party a few days before the 7th October Presidential Elections (1/7)

In the peaceful country of Cameroon, it was a daily routine to have citizens wake up every morning and go about their daily activities and house chores, prepare their children for school and go to their farms, business and job sites without any fear of the unknown. This was the serene lifestyle of every Cameroonian before the unexpected began; the Boko Haram attacks followed by the Anglophone crisis. What used to make headlines on the media with juicy news for relaxation soon became news of killings and torture during the Boko Haram insurgency. Killings became rampant and whole villages were burnt. Citizens lived in fear in the northern part of the country; women were raped and gunshots became a daily reality. Violence and insecurity increased and the number of refugees and internally displaced persons rose. This situation had hardly settled down when the Anglophone crisis quickly followed in the heels of Boko Haram bringing in a new surge of refugees and IDPs which is the headache of the present times.

My work in the communities before the crisis was basically to find solutions to empower communities especially the women, girls and youth living in rural communities. The Denis Miki Foundation and Efeti Ventures; alongside several local and international partners put up sustainable programs like the Rural Android Women and Girls Computer Center in Zangtembeng. We also created micro-investment projects like a Poultry Farm in Mutengene which employed widows to work there. A Piggery which had youth in Njindom working with a goal of providing livelihood programs to reduce poverty and contribute in community development. These programs like several of the other projects and programs we had in the communities were recording positive stories of change and the impact was creating waves across the national and international levels.

The Boko Haram insurgency is on the wane in the Lake Chad basin but continues to carry out attacks against civilian and military targets in the Far north region of Cameroon. More than 2,000 Cameroonians have been killed and 170,000 displaced which has triggered the rise of vigilante self-defense groups. Meanwhile, Cameroon’s English speaking regions; the North West and South West regions have experienced violent flare-ups as the central government represses dissent over the perceived marginalisation of the English-speaking minorities. As an Anglophone with both parents from the two English-speaking regions I experienced a fair share of marginalization but have been able to go through it.  Anglophone Cameroon makes up 20 per cent of the population and their frustrations surfaced dramatically at the end of 2016 with a series of sectoral grievances which morphed into political demands that led to strikes and riots. The strike spread very fast and the government brought in repressive measures which caused many of our students to be raped and battered. Civilians were maltreated and whole villages burnt down. To make matters worse, the internet was shut down for three months which did not help in any way. The strikes soon became general many young people were radicalized and a semi-war began when the military and non-state armed groups started killing one another. In the past movements between towns and sub-divisions could be enjoyed anytime 24/7 but today the story has changed because there is fear of the unknown looming with stray bullets actually killing people on a daily basis everywhere. Villages, cities and small towns in the Anglophone regions are continually emptying out as citizens are fleeing their communities due to increased violence and deaths recorded.

I live in one of the towns of the South West region and run several projects in different villages and towns in the Anglophone region.  I have written stories of situations and seen firsthand how the Anglophone crisis has caused the near collapse of schools for two years. So many of my family members and friends have run to safety to neighbouring towns and villages hoping the crisis will soon be over. I have travelled through roads which have been shut down and have heard gun shots right behind my back. The frightful and sleepless nights I have prayed for an end to all the violence and fear staring the whole community in the face led me to join forces with other women leaders of the two affected regions. The women of the North West/South West regions have formed a coalition to make their voices heard amongst the many clamouring for dialogue and a way out of the crisis. The South West/North West Women Task Force (SNWOT) has brought together dynamic women leaders who are putting things together to find long lasting solutions that can bring back our lost peace. As SNWOT we are currently working together collectively to advocate for a cease fire and dialogue between the government and the non-state armed forces and have also participated in humanitarian outreach programs to support displaced persons within the regions.

Advocating as a grassroots women leader has also brought in threats from either side of the crisis as my team and I have been seen as taking sides with one party or the other. With increasing hate speech and social media bullying, we have been bullied through phone calls and outright calling on social media. But with the increasing challenges of the crisis and increasing sufferings of the Cameroonian people we have not stopped working but rather we have been able to mobilize more women and young girls to join us in advocating for peace while engaging directly with the top government officials and policy makers.

I miss the good peaceful times when I could just leave Limbe in the South West Region for Zangtembeng in the North West Region without thinking of anything; all I would worry about was just my bus ticket. A ticket in hand, a knapsack and I was on my way. I look forward to those beautiful carefree days of peace in my country.

This story was submitted in response to The Future of Security is Women .

Comments 15

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Forchu Princewill
Oct 11, 2018
Oct 11, 2018

Hello Emily Miki Foundation.
God bless your endeavors towards changing lives and reaching out to the needy.
My point is about the gesture your foundation is impacting in the lives of woman in areas you made mentioned above which is super good. However, I would suggest you include pictures and testimonies of those whom have benefited via your humble foundation.
That's my humble opinion
Regards
God bless.

Emily Miki
Oct 11, 2018
Oct 11, 2018

Hello Princewill,

Thanks for your feedback will do just that right away. Also some of our activities especially with IDPs cannot be sent out to the public for security reasons. But we are currently doing a lot with re-integration for IDPs in the town of Yaounde especially in providing livelihood and connection to job opportunities.

Jill Langhus
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Hi Emily,

Thanks for sharing your sad post:-(

Are you and your family safe? Are you displaced or still in your home, and safe, I hope? I wish for your beautiful, carefree days to return soon, too!

I hope you are safe and doing well:)

Good luck with your story submission!

Emily Miki
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Hi Jill,

Thanks for your concern. Will send more details to you in a private message. Hope you understand.

Much love,

Emily

Jill Langhus
Oct 14, 2018
Oct 14, 2018

Hello there Emily:-)

Of course:-) Hope you are having the best day possible!

XO

Lisbeth
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Dear Emily,
Its always saddened my heart when I looked on the vices on our societies today. Whether is politically or religious inclination, I strongly believe nobody has the right to inflict pain on another persons life just for selfish interest.

However, I personally do appreciate your courage to share your story. We look forward to reading more of your stories in the future

Kind regards
Lisbeth

Emily Miki
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Hi Lisbeth,

It's really inhumane when the value of life becomes invaluable to someone or a group of people.

I have always believed that the gift of life is sacred and taking away someone's life for whatsoever the reason is unjustifiable and impringes on that very sacredness of this gift called life.

Irrespective of the hate, anger, political, religious and whatever differences we may have; when the taking away of the gift of life becomes an option then we all find ourselves in a place of insecurity and unrest.

I wish there could be a reverence of this sacred gift called LIFE!

Best wishes,

Emily

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Dear Emily,

Thanks to you and some other WorldPulse sisters from Cameroon we have direct and detailed reports of the violence and destruction being done in the Anglophone area of your country. At this point here in Canada many conflicts that are happening globally are being reported on our national and international news, but I hear nothing about Cameroon. This news channel that we have with each other within WorldPulse is critically important. I have private messaged you to find out if I might send this story to women here in Canada known for paying attention to news globally. I hope that this might lead to more safety and an end to the violence.
Also, thank you for the amazing video of these 5 women leaders. One incredibly talented moderator, and four women with powerful stories and wonderful goals.
My love and best wishes for the safety of you and everyone there, and for the success of the women leading the way to peace.

In sisterhood,
Tam

Emily Miki
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Hi Tam,

Thanks for your message and your encouraging words. Yeah I had a similar discussion with a US friend who mentioned nothing was been said about Cameroon's situation on the news.

One main reason is the threat those speaking out receive. But like I tell my friends and colleagues in one way or the other we have to speak out and keep singing and crying for peace.

Best wishes,

Emily

Melody Ndzenyuiy Epse Kwaven
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

We all wish peace and serene could return to our country dear Emily. My school administrative block was burnt. My colleagues and i as well as our students are recieving threats everyday to stop going to school. We have no clue about tomorow. But we as women can fix it through building internal peace and hope in our younger ones. Many of my students are in jails because for one reason or another they were victimized. I started a crises management and peaceful conflict resolution program in my counseling service, whereby our adolescents are empowered and not vulnerable to risk of abduction or cohersion into partaking in the crises.
Thank you for your story. I personally feel the pain

Emily Miki
Oct 15, 2018
Oct 15, 2018

Hi dear,

Really. You didn't tell me about this. I will give you a call tomorrow.

Do stay safe and be cautious.

Take care of you!

Emily

ARREY- ECHI
Oct 17, 2018
Oct 17, 2018

Dear Emily,

Thank you for the work you do and for detailling how the present Anglo crisis is affecting you personally. I sure do miss the carefree days. Sadly, we seem not to learn anything from history as the increasing repressions of the Anglophones is only radicalizing more people and taking us down a very bloody and murky dark path if the powers that be cannot rein in their dominance for the common good. Unfortunately, the international community remains mute.

I hope you and your family are safe and well. Courage and blessings,
Arrey

Emily Miki
Nov 12, 2018
Nov 12, 2018

Hello Echi,
It's a sad situation we find ourselves in and honestly I pray all this comes to an end soonest.

Best wishes,

Emily

florence kekong
Nov 09, 2018
Nov 09, 2018

Oh! Dearest Sister, Emily, I pray that our good God steps in at this point of need. I know how it feels when you have the passion and drive to carry out a good cause and then, the great obstacles set in. You would change this situation, I believe that God will definitely give you the enabling strength. I am with you in prayers and hope to .mobilize more of our Grassroots Women Journalists in Nigeria GWJiN, to report on the plight if the Cameroonian Refugees in Cross River State, where they are kept presently. It is so pathetic but we are believing that there would be a dramatic turn around very soon. Thanks for being ever courageous. God bless you.

Emily Miki
Nov 12, 2018
Nov 12, 2018

Dear Florence,

That would be amazing. Please share me links of some of the reports from the Nigerian journalists so we can also get the word out of the situation of the refugees in Nigeria. Thanks to y'all for hosting them at this point of desperation.

Best,

Emily