From 16–21 November, a group of 31 motivated young community leaders from across Cameroon’s Far North gathered in the regional capital of Maroua for a workshop on communication mechanisms organized by Human Security Collective and Dynamique Mondiale des Jeunes. The third in a series of Inclusive Leadership workshops taking place within the Freedom of Religion and Belief programme, the week-long event gave participants the opportunity to practice and improve their competencies as leaders and mentors within their communities. The young men and women represent a cross-section of Northern Cameroon’s diverse ethnic and religious landscape, with most of them coming from towns and villages which have directly been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and government countermeasures. In this fragile context, they have been developing initiatives with the goal to heal divides, combat prejudice, and build resilience in their communities. This workshop therefore also provided a chance to present the first results of these human security initiatives – which include livelihood projects such as fisheries and agriculture, community clean-ups, reforestation, community dialogues, interreligious football tournaments, libraries, educational support, and much more.
The workshop allowed them to learn from each other, and develop tools as well as the confidence required for communicating effectively within their communities, with local leadership, and on social media. Some of the young leaders had the chance to put the acquired skills into practice, as they were interviewed by a local YouTube channel dedicated to youth development and entrepreneurship. Further highlights of the workshop included the much-anticipated mixed gender football match, as well as a cultural evening of traditional dances, fashion shows, theatre, music, and film – organized and performed by the mentors themselves. The participants left Maroua with a renewed sense of purpose, and the goal to make a real contribution to change in their communities.