The women in my maternal village, Bu-Wum, Menchum division, North West Region, Cameroon, are just so slim and most of their children has red scanty hair, big stomachs and swollen limps. When i decided to take a close look , i discovered it was not their nature or gene. The women travelled very long distances and with very heavy load on their head. The children had marasmus due to poor nutrition.
So i tried to inquire why it was so. The answer baffled me. There were no farms or gardens near the village. Women had to walk 16km climbing a very steep hill just to go to the farm and during harvest, another 16kms to go to the market with their harvest on their head. There were no gardens around the compound where they could grow vegetable because men rared animals around homes and often, these animals moved randomly in the village eating any plant they find. When these men finally sell the animals, they take the money to the nearest town and spend it on beer. Milk is very expensive and the women cannot afford it. Dont ask me where the men were. They were there. Their only activity was, impregnate the women, and then leave the rest to her.
So i tried to find out why the women tolerated such a thing. They said "you would be lucky if your husband has only one wife, so you try your best to keep him pleased so he doesnt take another. Then there is also the issue of refunding the bride price if he decides to return you to your family".
It took me a while to figure out what i could do about the situation. So i bought some few bags of salt and cartons of soap. Shared in small rappens and added soap. Then took one of my cousins, living in the village at that time. We started moving from house to house. I explained to them about family planning, rallied them so that we could go to the chief and talk about this issue of animals destroying anything planted around the village. He did nothing. So i went to the D.O, organised a meeting with the men and tried to educate them on why it is important they find a way for their wives to be able to grow crops around the village. They cared less, because when they have money and go to town, they feed well and if they slaughter the animals, they say women and children are exempted from eating it for its tradition.
The D.O announced that every body should catch their animals and confine them or it will be seized. No body did. So the date line past. I went back and saw the D.O and he sent his boys and they caught and took away the animals.
When they discovered i was involved, they teamed up themselves and decided to storm my elder sisters house where i was staying and get me. One of her children heard of the plot and hinted me, i had to run away in the middle of the night to town.
My sister was summonned to produce me. Thank God her husband is a very influencial person who lives in Yaounde. He threatened to bring police to the village and arrests everyone. They became afraid and then stopped harrassing her.
During the reign of that D.O, people were able to farm around the village because most people confined their animals during the farming season. But unfortunately the D.O died some few years later. His replacements dont care. I organised a small gathering where i taught the women how to make milk from sawyer beans for their children.
The plan is not fully working because they need to start growing the beans. It is a cheap source of nutritive protein. My next plan is to introduce the growing of this beans for themselves and the growing of other vegetables around the compound and also raring of agric fowls by these women for source of protein. To do this i have to find a way to get men to confine their animals even when its not farming season for the garden plan to work.
As usual, i will need partners to carry this out.