Written By Tina Ashiyo
Some staff of the CBC Health Services’ Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SEEPD) programme have visited a sister programme in the northern regions of Cameroon. The team of nine led by the SEEPD Programme Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac paid a working visit to a programme known as the Integrated Programme for the Improvement of the Quality of Life of Persons with Disabilities (PIAP). PIAP is under the Social Welfare Service, CODAS- Caritas of the Archdiocese of Garoua and operates in the three northern regions of the country, that is, Adamawa, North and the Far North Regions.
The visit in May 2016 created an opportunity to foster exchange between the two programmes in view of facilitating learnings from the successes and challenges of the PIAP programme. It was also intended for the SEEPD programme to understand and learn from processes involved in successful management of disability programmes in the context of the northern regions. The PIAP programme had visited the SEEPD programme for the same purposes in December 2014.
It was a very elated and warm PIAP team led by the Manager, Mr. Pascal Ahidjo who expressed their happiness to receive the SEEPD team who had braved all odds to visit their programme.
While in the North, the SEEPD team visited the three key projects of the PIAP programme in the three regions of the country.
The SEEPD team’s first stop was at the Centre Luthérien d’Ophthalmologie Ngaoundéré (CLON); the Adamawa Region eye care project run by the Lutheran Church in Ngaoundere. Here the SEEPD team was happy to learn that one of the outcomes of PIAP’s visit to the SEEPD Programme in 2014 being implemented which is the employment of a CBR field worker to coordinate field activities and to handle cross cutting issues like child protection and gender. The visit also took the team to the PIAP office which also hosts the office of Service Intégral pour la Lutte contre le Handicap (SILH), the North Region project run by the Garoua Archdioce and principally involved with community based rehabilitation activities in the region. In the Far North Region, the SEEPD team visited the Centre d’Ophtalmologie Esther Binder de Mokong (COEBM) of the l’Union des Eglises baptistes du Cameroun.
Among other activities the SEEPD team conducted field visits of project implementing partners like special and integrated schools for children with different types of disabilities, rehabilitation centres for persons with disabilities, and individuals benefitting from PIAP programme services like livelihood, community medical and rehabilitation services. Another highlight of the visit was presentations from the PIAP Programme Manager and other projects and partner leaders.
The of the PIAP programme also created an opportunity for the team to hold discussions to explore the possibility of establishing clubfoot treatment clinics in the Far North with Fondation Bethleem, Mouda in Garoua (a rehabilitation Centre containing multiple services for persons with disabilities and the underprivileged) and Centre de Formation Professionelle Ndoukoua Yves (a rehabilitation center in Mokolo). The discussions were fruitful and it was agreed that physiotherapy staff of the two centers will be trained in the days ahead for clubfoot care services within the Cameroon Clubfoot Care project to kick start in these centers.
It was therefore an intense five-day visit that saw the team moving beyond the three capital cities of the three northern regions to over 20 villages extending right to the borders of the country with Chad. At the end of the visit, the SEEPD team testified they had learnt a lot from their experience with the programme in the northern regions.
Speaking at the end of the visit, the SEEPD Programme Manager, Mr. Awa, disclosed to the northern cluster programme that the SEEPD team had learnt many lessons worth copying like; community eye surgeries, the intranet data collection strategy and SAARI software and pre secondary school activities for children with disabilities.
The SEEDP team recommended inter alia that PIAP should design advocacy and awareness raising activities for the involvement of community members and development actors, and empower Mayors to embrace disability and inclusive development.
On behalf of the team, the SEEPD Education Advisor, Mrs. Fobuzie Bridget Longla, appreciated the PIAP staff for their warmth, hospitality and relentless efforts that enabled the SEEPD team to stay and work comfortably and successfully throughout the visit.
For his part, the PIAP Programme Manager, Pascal Ahidjo, said he was happy that both teams had learnt from each other. He said SEEPD programme’s determination to make it to the northern part of the country despite the harsh climatic conditions and insecurity was proof of their commitment to their activities. He called on the team to convey PIAP teams’ greetings to the entire CBC Health Services.
It should be noted that the SEEPD and PIAP programmes are partner programmes having the same funding partner, CBM, and carrying out activities in the same domains including medical services, education, livelihood, community based rehabilitation, child protection, and gender all geared towards improving on the quality of life of persons with disabilities.