I recently returned from West Africa, where I had the opportunity to support US forces and their Cameroonian counterparts in their efforts to defeat extremism and bring stability to the region through improved education. We first told you about this project here.
Based in Garoua, a city in Cameroon’s hot and humid North Region, a small number of US troops are providing advice and support to the Cameroonian military, at their government’s request, to assist in the fight against Boko Haram. In recent years, Boko Haram has terrorized northern Cameroon and other countries in the region, killing over 10,000 innocent people and wounding or displacing countless others. A new, more assertive posture by the Cameroonians has led to recent victories and progress against this evil, including a military rout in February 2016 in the Nigerian town of Goshe, but the group remains a threat and there is still much to do before extremism is eradicated from the region.
Despite recent progress, the Cameroonian government and military remain stressed by the many pressures of poverty, extremism, and a lack of resources in their communities. In an effort to support the priorities of our Cameroonian military partners and the community that is hosting our troops, one US Civil Affairs team is coordinating with local leaders to identify and address the most pressing needs. As they have engaged the population and assessed the local situation, education has repeatedly arisen as a primary concern. Improved education is essential for the future of the region, for economic development and progress, and most immediately, to prevent local children from falling under the influence of violent extremists.
With SoA support, the US military recently donated new desks and school supplies to a local school that serves over 900 students. These much-needed supplies will go a long way towards keeping children in school and improving the education they receive while there. Simple things like chalk, notebooks, and pencils will dramatically improve the quality of instruction and students’ ability to complete assignments.
The provision of these basic supplies will have a tremendous effect on the students and community to which they were provided, effects that will reverberate in the community for years. Initiatives like this are only possible through your generous and continual support. You can learn more about this project in Cameroon and others here.
Chris VanJohnson Project Manager – Africa