When refugees and internally displaced people are forced to flee their homes, careers, and communities, they also leave behind their financial security. Education and careers are often interrupted. While resettled in a new community, whether temporarily or permanently, they need to be able to plan for a safe, prosperous future, and they need access to financial resources to rebuild their lives.
During a crisis, they need immediate support, including food, safe shelter, and access to medical care. As these basic needs are stabilized, many must face the long-term circumstances that follow being displaced.
In Cameroon money from private donors has allowed us to work together with nearly nine thousand people to secure jobs and income. Most of them are women, and many are their family’s sole providers.
“The money from NRC came when we needed it the most.”
Pauline shows us around the chicken coop. Thanks to money from private donors, she and her friends Hassana, Hawa, Maissane and Mairamou have started an egg production project in Bamenda in the northwest of the country.
The five women received a total of just over 100,000 Central African Francs (around NOK 2,000) over two months.
“The money from NRC came when we needed it the most and was of great help. We formed a group of five women. With the money, we bought a hundred laying hens and feed,” tells Pauline, while holding a tray of freshly laid eggs.
She was one of the initiators and now leads the cooperative. The five women are among over two million people who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence and persecution in Cameroon, which is plagued by several ongoing crises and is considered one of the most neglected displacement crises in the world.
“The hens lay eggs that we sell at the market. These are essential incomes that sustain our families,” says Pauline.
“We have also received training in poultry farming and how to be as productive as possible, making our business sustainable and generating even more income,” she explains.
Started her own dressmaking shop
Annabella, 26, has been displaced for the past four years, first as a refugee in neighbouring Nigeria and then internally displaced in her home country, Cameroon.
“We’ve used up all our money fleeing violence, conflict and poverty. It’s been very difficult and traumatic. I was already pregnant with my second child when we fled to Nigeria, and my eldest was just a baby. I was terrified of what would happen to the children. But without any help, we were forced to return to our homeland,” she says.
When Annabella, her husband, and their two children arrived in Bamenda in 2021, they were warmly welcomed by the local population and were allowed to stay for free in a small two-room house for three months, giving them time to settle in and figure out how to get by.
“I was among the lucky ones included in NRC’s aid programme, and our family received 125,000 Central African Francs (equivalent to NOK 2,200). This allowed me to take a three-month sewing course, buy a sewing machine and rent a space. Here, I both sell clothes and offer courses for other girls,” Annabella says proudly, showing us around her workshop.
Annabella tells us that she didn’t want to depend on others’ help and wanted to support herself and her family.
“Being dependent on others creates a lot of uncertainty, and you never know when the help will run out. So, my husband and I decided that it was best to use the money we received to learn a trade and start our own business. Now, I support the family, we have enough food, I can pay for my children’s education, and I can actually save some of the money I earn.”
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NRC has been working in Cameroon since 2017. Read more about our work in the country here.