2018 Summer ADYLT in Cameroon
Burnstein Center for Excellence, Leadership & Innovation (BCELI)
The African Deaf Youth Leadership Training (ADYLT), an initiative of Strategies to Advance and Network Deaf Africans for Ubuntu (STANDU, Inc.) is aimed at nurturing leadership skills among young deaf Africans.
Building on the 2017 edition, the 2018 edition of the program in Cameroon was held July 24 – August 3 in Nkolbisson, a town at the outskirts of the capital Yaounde. This event saw the participation of 28 deaf youth from 7 different regions (formerly known as provinces) of the country. The country has a total of 10 regions. Two STANDU representatives also participated as facilitators and presenters. Additionally, local leaders of the deaf community were invited throughout the program as panel participants, guest speakers, or observers.
STANDU, Inc. is grateful to Gallaudet University’s Burnstein Center for Excellence, Leadership and Innovation (BCELI) for its grant award for the 2018 ADYLT Cameroon program. We are also grateful to those who showed support for our projects at our first annual charity gala co-hosted on May 5th, 2018. Equally recognized here are the board members of STANDU for their continued commitment to the organization, and in-kind or financial support for this project.
“Scholasticat Yves-Plumey”, a dorm-style academic residence owned and operated by the Missionaries Oblates of Mary Immaculate, was chosen for logistical and practical reasons: reasonably priced accommodations, but also for its “all-in-one-place” appeal. The relative quiet of the neighborhood where it is located helped boost our focus throughout the program. It is not easy to find such a place in the city. Place such as this are owned and operated mainly by Catholic missionaries.
The 2017 edition had 17 participants (7 females, 10 males) from 5 regions and 3 facilitators (2 females, 1 male). The initial number this year was set between 35-40 participants from all 10 regions. Of those invited, 28 were able to attend, with the number inadvertently falling to 14 females and 14 males from 7 regions. 5 of those who initially confirmed their participation ultimately failed to make it as they could not get permission from their employers to leave for more than 5 days. 2 were to be excused for personal reasons and 2 just failed to show up.
The increase in the number of regions is singularly encouraging. The local organizing committee was made up of 3 women, all of whom were participants in the 2017 edition. They did an outstanding job in the weeks leading to the event, throughout and after. The table below shows the number of participants per region represented:
As a continuation of the work started last year in which 4 task forces were created to address these areas of need: strengthening a weak national association of the deaf, addressing disparities in deaf education, employment and access to healthcare, the first 3 days were dedicated to group work where the aforementioned task forces reviewed their initial finding, wrapped up their report for presentation, further discussions and drafting of action plans. New participants were apprised of the different objectives and joined a task force based on interest.
Among the topics presented were “proscratination and how to overcome it;” “the UNCRPD and what it means for Deaf Education;” “Collaborative Leadership;” “Building a better future for the deaf Cameroonian, starting with me;” “Current opportunities within the country” among others. The latter topic covered a range of topics such as this year’s presidential elections (in the fall); the current agenda of the Cameroon National Association of the Deaf which includes elections (for the first time!) at the local and national level within a year, a recent announcement on the creation of 65,000 public service jobs; “Cameroon Horizon 2035” and how the deaf community can capitalize on those events or programs. Panel events saw the participation of leaders and members of the local deaf community and discussions focused on topics such as being deaf in the public or private workforce, self-employment, entrepreneurship, organizational leadership, being deaf in a mainstream educational setting.
Of particular interest was the “Regions panel” where participants from the different regions covered a range of topics on the experiences of deaf people in their regions. Last but not least, a very exciting academic bowl competition that saw 8 teams set up by draw, playing in a round-robin then playoffs format leading up to the championship game on the last day of the program. A strong sense of belonging and networking was palpable towards the conclusion of the program. We love seeing this particularly for participants who have started to ‘discover’ the deaf community and/or to accept their identity as deaf persons only recently.
After analysis of the data collected last year by and for each task force, each group worked on an action plan to be carried out within the next 1-2 years. A short-term action plan shared by all groups was holding regional seminars aimed at sharing lessons learned with other youth. This will substantially increase the number of deaf youths impacted by the training. A key goal is to encourage them to be actively involved in the upcoming CANAD revamping, particularly with elections at all levels: departmental, regional and national. Deaf youth are also encouraged to consider running for elections as they see fit.
Also notable is the plan to get the support of the government on matters relevant to the deaf community. A consensus was reached to initiate contact with, and to seek audience with lawmakers and relevant government officials.
For each plan however, it is once again recognized that a dynamic National Association is necessary in that it would be a strong voice for the deaf community as a whole.
Three (3) of the participants, who are all female, hold a degree or have completed studies in Law. With further training into the profession as lawyers, the community can capitalize on their expertise to adequately address issues impacting the community. If these issues persist, it is due to the lack of implementation of legislation aimed at bettering the lives of people with disabilities. Deaf people are included in this group.
To follow up with our 2018 ADYLT activity pictures, check the link here: