IVLP Impact Award: Over 355 Youth Certified To Advocate For Rights Of Persons Living With Disabilities

Dec 1, 2023

Participants pose for a family picture

By Etienne Mainimo Mengnjo & *Jacqueline Nying Chia

Some 355 youths from different backgrounds in Cameroon have been urged to continuously raise their voices and advocate for the rights of Persons living with Disabilities, and PWDs. 

These youths were certified on November 30 in Yaounde after completing a three-month program which trained them to actively participate in advocating for the rights of persons living with disabilities. 

The program, coordinated by Betty Nancy Fonyuy, Human Rights Activist and International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) fellow, falls under the project theme “Advocacy Role of Youths in Human Rights and Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

During the ceremony, Karen Tang, Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the US Embassy in Cameroon, commended the project, emphasizing that disability rights are human rights. 

“We are pleased to see the work that she and her teams are doing. We strongly believe that communities, governments, and economies should all work together to ensure the full participation of all members of society,” Karen Tang said “It is great to see the University of Yaounde One getting involved and receiving training.” 

Meanwhile, Angelica Bih Mundi, Inspector Number Two, she very pleased and prayerful that more people should come to know that children living with disabilities have other talents, hidden talents which can be exploited to make them better individuals tomorrow. 

“The Head of State has put the human person at the centre of the development program, and for us to develop fully, no person should be left behind,” she said “No child should be left at home without going to school. To those who have just received certificates, they should network so that they can be strong and lobby for favour for persons living with disabilities.”

Cross-section of participants
Cross-section of participants

Betty Nancy Fonyuy, the project coordinator, expressed her satisfaction with the three months of training. Initially targeting 200 youths to become active participants in society and advocates for the rights of people living with disabilities, she was pleasantly surprised to have trained 355 individuals. 

Fonyuy stated, “We also aimed to conduct outreach with youths to educate at least 2,000 people about the rights of people with disabilities in schools, communities, and churches. However, we have reached over 10,000 individuals who were very satisfied with the information and training.”

Fonyuy emphasized that the certificates would serve as a reminder to all participants to continue their advocacy efforts and never give up. She stated, “The certificates will also remind them of the courses they were trained on. When they look at that certificate, they will remember the call for action and duty.”

Videc Leinyuy, one of the participants, expressed her gratitude for the transformative three-month training. She stated, “I have learned about human rights, the rights of persons living with disabilities, and, most importantly, that every individual living with a disability has the right to be involved in society in every domain.” 

Leinyuy further added, “The impact is far-reaching, as we have been transformed from passive observers to active agents of change. We have developed the skills, confidence, and unwavering resolve to champion the rights of persons living with disabilities.”

The program, which began on September 9, 2023, included training workshops, community outreach, and the establishment of youth-led advocacy initiatives. It covered various topics such as understanding disabilities from a multifaceted approach, civil and human rights, gender-based violence and protection for persons with disabilities, and addressing hate speech against them. 

Additionally, the program addressed challenges faced by youth in advocacy roles, understanding the rights and duties of persons with disabilities, social cohesion and inclusion for them, advocating for their rights through social media, self-advocacy training, and accessing their rights.

(*JIMIT Cooperate Communication Student on Internship)