Featured Storyteller

CAMEROON: Technology Gives Deaf Girls a Voice

Regina Afanwi Young
Posted November 5, 2021 from Cameroon
An image of Regina wearing colorful earrings and shirt

Regina's organization trains deaf girls to become leaders who impact their communities with the help of technology.

“In our empowerment workshops we not only equip deaf girls with livelihood skills, but also empower them to use digital tools to create more visibility for their products.

I’ve had the opportunity to access digital opportunities and resources, but many girls in my community, especially those with hearing impairments and other disabilities, have not. In my country, people with disabilities often experience stigma. Many families, caregivers, and communities don’t invest in girls with disabilities. Girls face a further barrier of accessing money to buy an internet connection. On top of this, some of these girls suffer harassment online. 

That is why I am committed and passionate about getting girls with hearing impairments more engaged with digital tools. 

My organization, Association for the Empowerment of the Deaf and Vulnerable Persons (AEDVP) educates girls about the rights of people with disabilities. We have organized digital trainings in collaboration with other World Pulse sisters and organizations about how girls with disabilities can use technology to advocate for their rights. Our organization also trains them on how to sell their products online. 

Our empowerment center aims to equip deaf and disabled girls with skills to build a livelihood. The girls learn how to use their phones to sell products such as beaded sandals, powdered soap, and bedsheets through Facebook and WhatsApp. We also teach them how to stick price tags on the products and advertise online. 

Customers who do not understand sign language can use texts to bargain and buy their products. Technology has become the girls’ voice, reducing the communication gap as they can communicate effectively with customers, making business more inclusive.

Initially, most of the girls had to use my computer and phone to communicate through apps such as Facebook Messenger, but lately, some have acquired their own Android phones and are helping their deaf peers. Selling online has increased their products’ visibility and given them a wider audience. 

The presence of COVID-19 lockdowns coupled with the socio-economic crisis in our region has made more people realize the powerful role technology plays in our lives. It has motivated and inspired more people to acquire skills on how to effectively use technology to function every day. 

We also teach girls how to access educational opportunities, meetings, trainings, and networking opportunities online. Over WhatsApp, the girls we work with were able to share challenges, successes, opportunities, and basic training during lockdowns. This is the beauty of technology and the positive impact it can have on girls when they can access the digital empowerment opportunities they need.

Harassment and violence online are always a big call for concern. I constantly discuss digital safety with the girls I train, from creating stronger passwords, to avoiding sites that will expose them to gender-based violence. 

I recommend individuals, caregivers, family members, community members, and the government take digital education and empowerment for girls, especially those with any form of disability or vulnerability, more seriously. We should train these girls and provide them with digital tools, such as smartphones, that they can easily use. We should provide strong and affordable internet at all times. In doing so, technology will make life easier and better for every girl.

Through our trainings, we help raise role models and leaders who will be able to positively impact their communities using technology. Most of the girls have become more financially self-reliant and report a decrease in incidents of gender-based violence. Community perceptions of the girls have changed positively as people interact with them online. 

Our dream is that even more girls — with and without disabilities — will have access to networking, empowerment training, improved livelihoods, education, and whatever opportunities they need to excel through the use of technology. We can only ensure this happens if they have opportunities to access free or affordable tech devices.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of World Pulse's Story Awards program. We believe every woman has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could receive added visibility, or even be our next Featured Storyteller! Learn more.

Comments 44

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megsmueller
Nov 05
Nov 05

Hey Regina
Clapping hands and just loving this moment with you and for you! Congratulations on your story award! Keep up the good work. You are an inspiration. Thank you.

Much love to you.

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 05
Nov 05

Thanks Megs darling, hope you feel much better. You too inspire me.

maeann
Nov 05
Nov 05

Regina my dear, congratulations on your featured story.

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 05
Nov 05

Thanks lovely sis!!!

Felicitas Wung
Nov 06
Nov 06

Kuddos Dear Regina

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 06
Nov 06

Thanks so much sis!!!

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 06
Nov 06

Thanks dear sis!!

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Nov 06
Nov 06

Dear Sister Regina
Thank you for sharing. I know and bear witness to all you are doing for deaf women in the North West Region of Cameroon. God bless you as we continue to struggle for the race of complete inclusion of persons with disabilities
Love
Veronica

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 06
Nov 06

Thanks so much sis. You always inspire and motivate me. You rock!!!

Jefiter Mang
Nov 06
Nov 06

Well done! This is good.

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 06
Nov 06

Thanks souch sis

Jefiter Mang
Nov 08
Nov 08

You are welcome. Keep up the great work.

Susu Mohamed
Nov 06
Nov 06

Ooow ooow lovely raging, congrats on story awards .i loved your beautiful picture and the write up.
Thank you for support deaf girls.
Love hugs
Suu.i

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 06
Nov 06

Thanks souch lovely Susu.

Tamarack Verrall
Nov 06
Nov 06

Dear Regina,
What tremendous work you do! What great news to read about so many girls now able to access online, build businesses, and stay safe. You are such a life-changer for girls who far too many people underestimate and pass by. May your dreams and inspiration flourish.
Love,
Tam

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 06
Nov 06

Sending a huge hug Mama Tan. Thank you for your kind words always!!!

Marie Abanga
Nov 07
Nov 07

Congratulations on your award story sis Reg
Coming from the same country like yourself I feel your story more
I am auditory impaired myself 65 percent they said, and I use hearing aids. I am lucky I know, and I have all this access to technology and global platforms. Imagine all the thousands of girls without such opportunities.
Keep doing what you do with your awesome center sis
love always
Marie

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 07
Nov 07

Thanks KS dear sis for your kind and lovely words of encouragement.

Catherine Djiemo
Nov 07
Nov 07

Dear Regina,
What tremendous work you do! I have my roots from Cameroon and i connect with this work you are doing . Cameroon need more women and organisation like yours to give balance to people living with a disability. Its amazing to know many girls now able to access online, build businesses, and stay safe. You are such an inspiration to these girls. May your dreams and inspiration flourish as you continue empowering . There is so much ability and funktionalitet within a persons disability .
Hugs
Catherine Djiemo

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 07
Nov 07

Thank you such for your lovely and kind words of encouragement and motivation Catherine. Sending hugs from my end.

Phinnie
Nov 07
Nov 07

Regina--What an amazing story of hope and inspiration for girls and women everywhere! You are absolutely right that with training and basic resources, technology can open so many doors to empower girls and women! I wish you and the girls and women who are part of your program great success in life!
Blessings to you, Phinnie

Jill Langhus
Nov 08
Nov 08

Woo-hoo, Bavi!! You rock! Soooo proud of you right now!

Keep up the great work. You know I will be right there, always cheering you on! XX

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 08
Nov 08

Thanks lovely sis!!! And thanks for all the continous empowerment and unconditional love I have always received from you that keeps me level headed and focused on my goals. Super blessed to have you in my life.
MY EARTH ANGEL!!!

Jill Langhus
Nov 08
Nov 08

You're welcome, Love:-) You bet!!

I'm the one who is blessed:-) XX

Manasa Ram Raj
Nov 08
Nov 08

Congratulations on the story award, dear Regina! Your work and words are always inspiring. Will be cheering for you as your dream comes true <3

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 10
Nov 10

Thanks so much Manana dear, and thank you for all the assistant you have been giving me to make my work much easier. You are the best!!!

IWR
Nov 09
Nov 09

Hi Regina, What a beautiful story and your beautiful heart shines through. It is an honor to have met you through World Pulse. It is so inspiring to meet someone who has witnessed a need in their community and then actually stepped up to make a difference. May God continue to bless you, your organization, businesses that partner with you and the young women whose lives you change. Thank you again for taking a stand to help those in need.
Sincerely,
Robbie

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 10
Nov 10

Thank yousouch dear sister for your encouraging, inspiration and motivation words. So blessed to be part of these sisterhood.
Sending hugs***
Regina

Annick BG
Nov 10
Nov 10

Regina you are truly inspiring. So powerful what you're doing. Keep up that spirit !

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 10
Nov 10

Thank you so much dear sister. I appreciate your lovely words of encouragement.

Irene Kalulu
Nov 10
Nov 10

You are doing important work for your community. It's nice reading about the positive change you are bringing. Keep it up!

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 11
Nov 11

Thank you for your kind words dear sister.

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 11
Nov 11

Thank you for your kind words dear sister.

Busayo Obisakin
Nov 12
Nov 12

Congratulations Sis! Thank you for great work you are doing
Love
Busayo

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 12
Nov 12

Thanks dear sis!!

Nov 12
Nov 12
This comment has been removed by the commenter or a moderator.
ARREY- ECHI
Nov 12
Nov 12

Huge Congratulations dear Sis Regina.

A well deserved win. For someone living with hearing impairment and knowing how much access to technology has improved my life and communication with family and the world, you are doing an invaluable work, bringing technology to this special community.

More power and open doors to you.

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 15
Nov 15

Thanks dear sister. You too rock

Fanka
Nov 13
Nov 13

Ma Regi
Congratulations on your sorry award.

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 15
Nov 15

Thanks k dear sis. Hope you and the family are doing great

Grace Iliya
Nov 15
Nov 15

Congratulations on your story award dear Regina. You story is very inspiring, giving hole and a voice to these girls. Keep up the good work and more grace for it.

Much Love

Thank you for sharing your story.

Kit Ying Lau
Nov 25
Nov 25

Hi Regina,
Congratulations on your story award!
Actually, I just found that your story is very meaningful.
Indeed, technology can create a fair world for us. : )

Regina Afanwi Young
Nov 25
Nov 25

Thanks dearie. You are welcome