Anglophone Cameroon: Heartrending Stories of Traumatised Women

They call it the Anglophone crisis but I call it the Anglophone war because of the devastating effects it has left on the innocent population especially women. This is the seventh year into the so-called crisis and no hope is on the horizon. We are tired of  killings, burning, loathing, extortion, blocking of roads just to name a few.

Situations like these have made everyone in the Anglophone Cameroon to live in constant fear, stress and trauma, especially young mothers who have unfortunately had life-breaking experiences. Some have become mental which makes a bad situation worse because of the young children they have. One such case is that of Ndise who lives in Mboh village of Jikijem/Ibal Mission area in Oku, Bui Division of the North West Region of Cameroon, where I work.

On January 5th this year 2023, Mboh inhabitants woke up to the sound of gun fire in the village. Like everyone else Ndise, an expectant mother, had to escape with her two kid children to the bush for safety. On returning in the evening when the place seemed calm, she found her house razed to ground with nothing left to salvage. She had to take shelter at the neighbor’s home. Life had suddenly changed in one day.

With absolutely nothing left but the clothes that she was wearing when they were escaping, Ndise gave birth in Mboh Health Center five days later on the 10th of January 2023. Having three children with nothing to feed them and nowhere to lay her head, Ndise went mental due to trauma. The baby girl was named Sandra Fofeyin. Fofeyin in the Oku language means ‘God-given’.

Ndise had grown up normal like anyone of us with expectations to have a lovely befitting life but luck was no more on her side. There was no one to settle the maternity bills. As it is becoming the practice here now, the nurses cast their lots on who to contact to find a suitable solution to this situation, and it fell on me. They believed that as a priest I must have a remedy to the matter. So they rang and reported the case to me.

It was already midday. I got something to eat for Ndise and her other two children. Realizing that she was not behaving normal, I begged the nurses to keep close attention on her and the baby. I contacted my friends and any well-wishers I could think of. Luckily I managed to get clothes for the baby and some other items.

After morning mass on the following day the 11th of the same January 2023, I made my way to the Health Centre just to be told that the young mother of baby Sandra woke up and abandoned the newly born in the Health Centre and went away, claiming no responsibility. Her mental situation had gone worse. I had to go round the village to consult the chief, his elders, responsible villagers and other people to see how the baby’s life could be saved.

Finally, a Good Samaritan family welcomed baby Sandra for the time being. As prescribed by the nurse, in whose hands baby Sandra was born, she had to survive on special milk. She is a healthy baby into her seventh month now. What next for baby Sandra? That is just one of the many stories.

Cyprian Ta-ah, MHM.

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