The National Executive Office of Cameroon-YMCA had the opportunity to welcome, two months ago, Angelina Alves, for her internship at the C-YMCA. Due to her field of study which is related to refugee’s domain, she had to work with the Project Board of at the C-YMCA Power-Space in Bertoua where she had opportunity to meet and work with refugees. During an interview with the communication team, she shared her thoughts about this.
What experience can you share with us upon approaching the refugees, since you arrived in Cameroon, especially at the Power-Space of Bertoua ?
I came to Cameroon 2 months ago for my internship to see and analyze the work of the C-YMCA in projects with refugees. But when I arrived here, I was surprised with how many projects the YMCA has in Cameroon, not only with refugees, but also with people in prisons, and young people which is the focus of the YMCA.
I also realized that Cameroon is an open-door country for refugees. Here in Cameroon, refugees can work, they can move freely around the country, they don’t need to stay for long in a camp, though it happens particularly when they arrive in difficult situations. This is different in other countries like in Europe. Cameroon is still a developing country and some local population face several problems like education, unemployment, I mean physiologic and security needs. Refugees meet the same needs too, at their arrival. The merge of the two populations is not sometimes easy, and this can lead to frustrations, social issues and sometimes clashes.
This is not particular to Cameroon, because other countries that welcome refugees face the same situation. Refugee’s situation is something complicated to deal with in many countries. We can also see it in Europe, people tend to avoid refugees even though the country is rich. It’s a matter of social relationship with foreigners, the fact of being afraid about difference. Even though there are some opportunities for refugees to rebuild their lives here, there are still problems related to developing countries.
After having been with the refugees in their daily activities at the power-space of Bertoua, what can you suggest to Cameroon YMCA that can ameliorate their situation
There are many things that could be done to improve their lives, also life of local people. Since the Cameroon YMCA is focused to young people, they are doing something special and different. They have so many projects to attract young people, which are aimed to take them from their marginalized situation and to integrate them into the society. Still it’s not big projects but it promise good results.
For example, during the last meeting with refugees, some of them were so like excited with the possibility of continuation of the work with them. Projects like learning English which has been suggested by one of them can yield to the creation of an English club. Such projects can also be profitable to refugees, to the community and can also contribute to reduce lots of social issues and facilitate acceptation of refugees into locality.
As C-YMCA has already started working with them for these goals what can you share with us about this ?
Yes I believe, globally, C-YMCA is going to the right direction, it will have more opportunities to make this project bigger and I still think we have lots of work to do because they can benefit both refugees and local people. The YMCA has an important role to play in that situation and we always have ideas, we need the resources to implement these ideas and people, volunteers to help.
We hope that the experience of C-YMCA in Bertoua will be helpful for other countries where they face the same situation and why not in some other regions in Cameroon where there are displaced populations. C-YMCA has an opportunity to be a broad model in Africa, since more than 80% of population of refugees are here in this continent and the C-YMCA can improve their lives by giving continuity to this project towards young people with young people.
About Angelica Alves
Angelina Alves is from Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, she is 29 years old, she is married and she lives in Denmark Copenhagen with her husband.
In Brazil she studied law and got her bachelor degree in that field of study. She moved to Denmark 3 years ago, to live with her husband. When in Europe, she decided to study Master degree in global refugees’ study. As part of her studies, she had to approach refugees’ situation, and she thought that maybe coming to Africa could be interesting to better understand that type of social issue. As her first experience in Africa, she decided to apply for internship at the YMCA, which led her to Cameroon, at the C-YMCA where she arrived two months ago for her internship.