Training on Communication and Mediation in conflicts

In June all the Peace Volunteers (PVs) that COMINSUD trained in 2015 were invited again for a 3-days exchange and training workshop.

Participants and facilitators of the training

Participants and facilitators of the training

What has been done during the past 12 months? What were the challenges and where did the PVs succeed very well? Those were some of the key questions during day one. Apart from phone calls to our office we could now hear all the stories at a great length.

For example in one village the PVs have opened a tomato farm. At the first sight that looks far from peace work, but in this farm previous enemies and sceptics are now united and continuous sensitization inside this group in ongoing.
In another village three PVs have trained more than 20 other local PVs for the different quarters of their area.
Apart from this, our PVs were involved in conflict resolution from household level up to inter-village level, as we can see in the Oku-Mbessa-Story.

To increase the capacities of the PVs they were given an insight into mediation. In group works or pairs they could learn techniques like “active listening” and the use of “grounding questions”. They were introduced to Schulz von Thun’s model of the “four sides of a message”, to the importance of body language and the phases of the mediation process.

Practicing emphatic listening and paraphrasing as a prerequisite for mediation

Practicing emphatic listening and paraphrasing as a prerequisite for mediation

Three participants practicing mediation with all the tools they have learned before.

Three participants practicing mediation with all the tools they have learned before.

The most exiting part was the practising of mediation, no matter whether in the role of one conflicting party or mediator or as observer with certain tasks – all were appreciating the role play very much and stated that they have learned a lot.

Participants in the "World Café" discussing implementation of training content

Participants in the “World Café” discussing implementation of training content

Presenting and discussing ideas from the "World Café"

Presenting and discussing ideas from the “World Café”

Prize awarding ceremony in Ecokids project

 

The Safe School Environmental Campaign (SSEC) 2015/16, a competition within the Ecokids project, is over. After big efforts in greening their schools, improving on hygiene and sanitation as well as access to potable water and better waste management the evaluation team went round all the 27 schools.

The evaluation took place based on a ranking system that has been developed together with all the stakeholders and participating schools. In each school development of the four areas of the campaign (school greening, waste management, WASH, access to potable water) was assessed e.g number of trees, length of hedges, cleanliness of toilets, availability of hand washing facilities, toilet tissue, drinking water, number of dust bins etc.

Among the 18 participating primary schools these were the prize winners:
1. Presbytarian School Mendankwe
2. Government School Alankie
3. Government School Alamandum

Among the nine secondary schools two prizes were awarded:
1. Government Technical High School Alabukam
2. Baptist High School Mankon

In addition encouragement prizes were given to:

    • Full Gospel High School Nkwen for efforts in providing drinking water
    • Government Technical High School Chomba for good example of tree planting
    • Cameroon Baptist Convention School Musang for good practise in providing drinking water in class rooms
    • Presbytarian School Ntamulung for good practise in hygiene and sanitation
    • Government Primary School Bamenda Group II for good practise in erosion control
    • Government Primary School Nibung for good practise in waste separation

Prizes were given in the form of material, depending on the needs of the school (e.g. cutlasses, buckets, dust bins, spates, hoes) worth 50,000 frs (first prizes), 35,000 frs (2nd prizes), 25,000 frs (3rd prize). The encouragment prizes had a value of 15,000 frs each.

Handing over of prizes

Handing over of prizes

Handing over of prizes

Handing over of prizes

Financial assistance was provided to three schools because of extremely poor toilet facilities (20,000 frs each) and we are keen to see the improvement in the next academic year.

The host of the ceremony was BHS Mankon, that also offered a nice excursion through their premises, especially with regards to the environmentally-related activities.

In the school farm of BHS Mankon

In the school farm of BHS Mankon

Excursion round BHS Mankon

Excursion round BHS Mankon

The SSEC will be repeated in 2016/17 and we hope to have much more schools joining it for the betterness of our educational environment. The Safe School Environmental Campaign (SSEC), a competition within the Ecokids project is over. After big efforts in greening their School, improving on hygiene and sanitation as well as access to potable water

Monitoring of activities under the Safe School Environmental Campaign

Twenty seven schools were visited and P.S. Mendakwe in Bamenda I Sub Division is one. At this point in time the school can be noticed of many environmental improvements and changes.

With assistance of the COMINSUD staff, pupils and teachers planted 27 shady trees and many flowers. The school garden has crops and the school orchard is cleared. The pictures below will show the present situation of the school environment, and toilets being improved.

Tilling and clearing of the school surrounding

Tilling and clearing of the school surrounding

The lone poor dilapidated school toilet kept very clean

The lone poor dilapidated school toilet kept very clean

Pupils planting flowers and trees

Pupils planting flowers and trees

written by Derick Banadzem

A commission set up to demarcate the boundary between Mbessa and Oku village

Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique paid a visit to Mbessa on Thursday April 21st, 2016. He is the first Governor to visit Mbessa since the conflict started over 30 years ago. This visit had in attendance over 450 women and 100 men of Mbessa alongside the traditional and administrative authorities of Oku and Mbessa. They all assembled at the Mbessa Community Hall seeking for a lasting solution to the boundary dispute.

The Governor called upon the Regional Boundary Commission to delimit the boundary between the two villages following the August 28th 2008 Ministerial Decision. He said the conflict has caused untold human and material damage and it was time everyone abides to the peace process.

A local committee was put in place to carry out the demarcation process. Among the members are two peace volunteers, trained and accompanied by COMINSUD.

The Fons of Oku and Mbessa reiterated their passion for the need for a peaceful coexistence between the two villages as they shared the common position that “there is the need to think of Oku and Mbessa people as one person because they all have a common origin”.

The Governors’ visit came just a day after the Fon of Mbessa led a Delegation to Oku to discuss ways to end the conflict. The women of Mbessa at the end of the meeting remained optimistic as they look forward for a fair and just boundary demarcation process.

Please introduce yourself!

COMINSUD exists in Cameroon since 20 years now. During this time a lot of people have worked for us and we have received many many applications from graduates and experienced persons applying for a job or an internship.
Unfortunately most often the applications do not give a good answer to the main question of the potential employer:

Why shall we hire you, what makes you unique and how can you be a great asset for us?

If a candidate is invited to an interview, most often s/he is not prepared with convincing answers to simple questions e.g. Why do you want to work for us? or Where do you want to be in your career in five years? None of the applicants had a strategically prepared introduction of him/herself.

Therefore we decided to offer a workshop on how to do the written application and how to prepare for a job interview.

On the first day, motivation letter and CV writing was the focus. Documents from the participants were analysed and improved on. But to know that one can also influence (or even pre-write) a recommendation letter given by a former employer was new to the participants.

The second day covered the preparation of the interview. With practical examples and a role play participants were made aware of Dos and Don’ts in the interview. Also questions from the employer were analyzed, because if one wants to give a convincing answer s/he must understand the “worry” behind each question.

Before the workshop 65 % of the participants stated that they have only few skills on how to write an application, while after the WS 94 % believed that they have most / all of the skills.
Before the training on job interviews, 90 % of the participants said, that they have only few skills on how to prepare for and go through an interview. After the training all the participant believed that they have most / all of the skills.

This is a promising result, and we hope to repeat this or similar workshops soon. If you or your group are/is interested in a training, please contact us through email: cominsud_ngo at yahoo.com

Stay with us to be informed.

EBAFOSA Cameroon launching ceremony in Yaounde

The launching ceremony took place on the 11th of March 2016 at the Municipal Circle in the nation’s capital Yaounde witnessed by a good representation from Civil society organizations of the North West Region.

The theme for the launch was “to contribute to the resilience of food security in Cameroon”. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country representative outlined that Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) was created as part of the United Nations Environment Program to contribute to food security and to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Continental coordinator also mentioned that EBAFOSA seeks to combat food insecurity, climate change, ecosystems degradation and poverty in Africa. To achieve this it is usind an innovative approach that decentralizes the development and application of the policy solutions in the least bureaucratic channel to ensure immediate results are recorded at the grassroots in an inclusive, participatory way towards achieving the SDGs.

As part of the launching ceremony, there was the display of regional agricultural products. The North West regional delegation made up of 6 members from 4 different organizations (COMINSUD, NOWEFOR, Terre des Jeunes, and FAP) exhibited products like honey, honey wax, rice, coffee, processed soy beans and ginger, irish potato, spices and bitter cola.

With our experience in the areas of food security and protection of environment and our approach of working with communities we can surely provide good expertise to this platform.

Historic action by Oku and Mbessa Communities in seeking peace

As an aftermath of the peaceful public manifestation walk by over 250 Mbessa a high level consultative peace meeting was held on March 3rd 2016 at the Mbessa Multipurpose Hall.

This meeting had amongst others the Senior Divisional Officers (SDOs) of Bui and Boyo (Nzeki Theophile and Oum II Joseph), the Mayors and Divisional Officers (DOs) of Oku and Belo, the Fons of Oku and Mbessa Villages and a cream of members of their traditional councils.

The historic nature of this meeting is seen in the fact that, in over 30 years, this is the first time a Fon of Oku is visiting the Mbessa Village. The over three hours meeting witnessed frank and open discussions aimed at establishing sustainable peace. Four of COMINSUD’s Peace Volunteers were also able to participate.

Key resolutions from this meeting as agreed by all the stakeholders were that:

  • The people in the disputed land boundary area should shun violence and remain calm for the governor and a regional technical team that will visit the area in the period ahead to demarcate the boundaries of the two communities;
  • More exchange visits between the Oku and Mbessa communities will be carried out to ensure continuous dialogue and sustainable peace;
  • Necessary traditional rites should be carried out by the Fons to enforce peaceful decisions and dialogue.

It is hoped that more efforts will be put to bear for more socio-cultural exchange activities among these communities for sustainable peace as the demarcation process is awaited.

Stay with us to be informed about the progress of this story.