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In Cameroon, older people like Samuel often lack access to their basic rights making them feel invisible within society. All We Can has been supporting an innovative local organisation in northern Cameroon that is finding ways to alleviate poverty and raise awareness of the rights of older people.
Samuel Nyingou is a father of six and a widower. He was married at the age of 34 but lost his wife in 1990. HIV/Aids has taken its toll on his family, two of his children died leaving Samuel with grandchildren to care for. Samuel found himself isolated, struggling to pay school fees for his children and grandchildren and unable to find a way to break the cycle of poverty he was trapped in.
Samuel’s story, however, is one of hope and transformation. In 2009, Samuel was visited by a local organisation supported by you through All We Can working in his village. He was encouraged to become part of a special group for older people in the community. Samuel relished the opportunity to connect with, and work alongside, his neighbours. His group, the Atu-twang Older People’s Club, became a local force to be reckoned with! They set up a community farm and began a goat-breeding scheme. Collectively, they were able to start saving money. Out of the money saved Samuel paid school fees and purchased materials to improve his humble home so that the roof no longer leaked in rainy season.
The Atu-twang group was given training in recognising the rights they are entitled to as older people in Cameroon. As a group, they worked together, to make sure all their members could gain a legally recognised birth certificate, an entitlement that gives them access to support in Cameroon. Samuel started to join peaceful demonstrations and travelled from his rural village into large towns with his group to raise public awareness of some of the issues they had learnt about:
“We decided as a group that meeting together should not just be about coming together and staring at one another. We can contribute something and assist each other in our times of need. We used to all just be apart, but now there is a spirit of togetherness”.
For Samuel, the support that he gained in 2009 is still having an impact today. The group are now able to support themselves, and the families that rely on the community’s older generation. They have also played an active role in encouraging change at a national level in their country so that other vulnerable older people can gain the support they need to lead a dignified, safe and happy life.
Laura works for All We Can as the Communications Manager. She is also an internationally acclaimed photographer with a passion for women's rights. She is studying MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies in her spare time and lives with her husband Stephen in Essex.