Y4BF Initiative Takes Off In Douala, Cameroon
By James Achanyi-Fontem, Coordinator, WABA MWG
Some 150 youths aged between 14 and 24 years from different colleges and universities in the south west and littoral provinces grouped in Bonabéri, neighbourhood of Douala City on June 7, 2008 to launch the Y4BF Initiative in Cameroon. Youth for Breastffeeding Promotion is an initiative of the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) encouraged by the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa).
Apart promoting the use of their mother tongue for communciation on infant and young child feeding issues, the leader of the Y4BF Initiative Group, Taku Jenerius, said their agenda icludes bringing youths together through the organisation of theatre, debates, conferences, music shows, exchange learning quiz and fund raising activities in the colleges and communities as well. The above activities were planned as part of the IBFAN Africa maternity protection seedgrant and preparations of the World Breastfeeding Week 2008 under the theme « Mother Support: Going for the Gold ». IBFAN Africa recommended the involvement of men and youths with emphasis on the breastfeeding mother at the work place.
The youths invited the national president of the Federation of Cameroon Breastfeeding Promotion Associations, FECABPA, who doubles as the national coordinator of the IBFAN Cameroon Link Group, James Achanyi-Fontem, to patronize the launching event at a Community Development Hall in Bonabéri-Douala.
Speaking during the Y4BF Initiative launching, the national coordinator of Cameroon Link announced that WABA and IBFAN plans annual events that target youths throughout the world and Africa in particular. He invited them to take the opportunity to continue with the started youths initiative by holding regular meetings to define clear areas of collaboration with other youth groups that have similar intentions.
They were invited to get regularly involved in World Breastfeeding Week events and other social mobilisation activities by participating in joint and/or coordinated advocacy strategies on various WABA and IBFAN key issues like mother support, gender promotion, HIV prevention, prevention of early pregnancies, and promotion BFCI through the integrated mother and child nutrition week planned annually in January by the Cameroon Ministry of Public Health.
FECABPA and IBFAN Cameroon Link Group promised to compliment skills of men and youths group leaders through capacity building and training for greater community out reach and increased focus on gender mainstreaming, men and youths involvement;
The WBW 2008 IYCF materials received from WABA and IBFAN Africa were distributed during the Y4BF Initiative launching for exploitation and dissemination of up dates during their meetings.
At the fund raising phase of the youths’ activities, their leader announced that donations collected were to be directed for the fight against the degradation of cultural norms and values and fight against traditional taboos.The youths’ support group will encourage underadvantaged youths’ inclusion as contribution to nation building.
Ndi Nkemasong , a noble of Lebialem told the youths, that as fathers and mothers, it was their role as parents to encourage the promotion of mutual exchanges amongst youths, while guiding them on the risks of early sexual activities and the responsibilities that go with having a baby early and unprepared.
A supportive mother, Suzanne Nkeza, emphasized on abstinence from sex until marriage. She added that in the continuous effort to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, families face challenges daily. With this, she told the youths to aim at taking their message of Y4BF intiative through different channels of communication in Cameroon, including door-to-door campaigns and code monitoring in super markets.
She added that sometimes, youths fall in their individual attempts, and that it is the concern of fathers and mothers to focus on the issue of "Social Mobilisation and YOUth" as encouraged by WABA and IBFAN Africa.
You should be proud to have a patron who is already cotributing in the above networks, she echoed, and that they the fathers and mothers are sure that this will be beneficial to all. The national coordinator of Cameroon Link informed the youths of the existence of the WABA Youth Initiative newsletter edited by Santiago Vallone, which can be discovered on the waba web site at www.waba.org.my , as he quoted the editorial of the third edition thus «It is with the small effort made by many people that we can make the difference together. We try to orientate our efforts in a network, promoting the mobilisation of different actors within the society to achieve a common goal which is social mobilisation and solidarity.
All of us, as small groups that promote breastfeeding as human right, should realise we are not alone. Each and everyone of us plays a fundamental rule in the work done in this huge network. In essence therefore, the smallest effort is important to spread the social commitment in social mobilisation - Santiago Vallone »