Ambassadors : Nina Forgwe & Acheleke Christian , Cameroon
The Creative Skills 4 Peace project works with young people in prisons across Cameroon, to provide them with education and vocational skills training that can help them to access better opportunities upon release. As a part of Local Youth Corner, the Project currently works with eight prisons across six regions in Cameroon and has impacted 12,000 inmates. One Young World Ambassadors Christian and Nina each lead different aspects of the project.
Christian leads the vocational training, or ‘prisonpreneur’ programme. The programme begins with a consultation process in each of the eight prisons, where the inmates are asked which type of entrepreneurial initiatives they would like to be involved with. Projects range from fashion and jewellery design, to poultry farming, to making soaps and detergents. The products are then marketed and sold by Local Youth Corner. The inmates are able to keep 50% of the revenue, with most of it being put away into secure, individual savings accounts while some is used as spending money. The remaining revenue is divided between the prison, the state treasury, and reinvested into the project to make it self-sustaining. In this project 300 prisoners have been trained by peer mentors, with the intention that the trained participants will then go on to teach these same skills to their fellow inmates as the programme progresses.
Nina works on the book donation and library project and has secured three million CFA Francs worth of books which have been donated to the prison libraries. As part of this project Nina launched an essay competition to encourage inmates to think critically and use the library more. Inmates addressed the question, ‘What can I do as a peace ambassador to make my community better?’ and the winning essays were awarded a cash prize. This programme encouraged inmates to read widely and discuss their ideas with each other, creating a buzz around the prison that encouraged more people to get involved. Some inmates went on to create book clubs after the competition ended. Nina has also led a project to develop a lexicon to tackle hate speech and violence in Cameroon, a rising problem since 2016.