Stars from scars in Cameroon
See how a United World Ambassador is helping street children in Yaoundé, Cameroon, even during the Coronavirus crisis.
Mabih, 36, lives with her family in Yaounde, Cameroon’s Capital city. In September 2019, she took part in a formation school for young Ambassadors of a United World held in Paris, run by the NGO New Humanity. The program covered the role of international institutions and NGOs, and the impact of the values of peace and universal fraternity which inspire the international activity of New Humanity. Participants were selected from different parts of the world.
«After last September’s school in Paris, we returned home filled with a great desire to light up the same fire in our own countries. Here in Cameroon, we launched the Ambassadors program, involving young people from different cultures and religions. They all took the ideas on board immediately and we moved into action!».
Over the next few months, the international United World Ambassadors program was rolled out through a series of online sessions including updates from the Ambassadors’ home countries, sharing good practice and proposals for long term projects.
Mabih takes up the story, «I supported an existing project run by one of the Ambassadors I recruited in Cameroon. The project is called “Stars from Scars”. It’s a not-for-profit organization working to improve the life of street children, rehabilitating them, recognizing their potential and reintegrating them into society». This project is particularly important, added Mabih, «because the number of street children in Cameroon has increased in recent years because of the current crisis and conflicts».
The “Stars from Scars” association, Mahib explained, has received permission from the competent authorities to work with minors. «We feel we have a responsibility for these children. They are precisely those people “without a voice” we wanted to meet as we left our formation in Paris. We feel that our primary aim is not so much to bring gifts or food, but to build relationships». But of course, they do also provide help, including food. «Once we’d prepared 350 food parcels. But when we arrived, there were far more children than we’d expected and we did not have enough! At the same time, we’ve begun to build real friendships with them. Along the way, we’ve discovered we don’t go only to love them or to be the ones giving something out, but we also receive from them, because everything is reciprocal. Sometimes we can think that lacking a particular thing means poverty, but it’s not true. Because here we’re meeting people who are happy and full of hope».
Since the Coronovirus pandemic started, Mabih and her “Stars from Scars” friends have launched another initiative. «We had to think about the safety of these children, because they live on the margins of society and are the most vulnerable. We collected hand-sanitizing gel, disinfectant and other items essential in these times. We had to avoid meeting them in large groups, in order to respect public health and hygiene measures. So we called some of their leaders and trained them how to use the disinfectants and how to distribute them among the children».
And now, what’s next? «We don’t believe there are any pre-packaged programs to follow. It will be with our daily love for them that we’ll understand what are the next steps to take. We had planned to live the United World Week together with them, but the Coronovirus crisis has put a stop to that. However, even though our group activities have been suspended until further notice, we are very clear about the fact that we have the ‘antivirus’ of fraternity, and no virus can stop us from loving!».