If you stroll across the crowded streets of towns like Bamenda, Buea or Limbe, you may never understand the deep repercussions of the Anglophone crisis on the cross section of the population. The façade of a booming city mirrored at first glance in these big cities is a contrast of what is actually happening on the ground. Hundreds of thousands of persons were obliged to flee from their homes in search of safety. Living behind them thriving businesses to areas they have never been before.
KWESI VIVIAN is one of such internally displaced persons who left her home in LIBIALEM one morning, and for a year now, she is still hoping to see her home. When the Anglophone crisis began in Cameroon, it took some months for them to get the first gunshots in Lebialem. Things continued normally until this fateful day.
It was a market day, and as usual, market days are generally very crowded. Kwesi was at her shop with dresses hanged everywhere and loud music playing from different angles when some armed men in military uniform matched into the market. Before they could understand what was going on, the armed men opened fire in to the air. Kwesi, like other shop owners, ran for safety living their shops wide open. She managed to reach her home where she met her 8 children in total panic; her husband later joined them that night. Together, they trekked into the bushes and arrived Dschang the next morning.
Arriving Dschang, they had developed sores under their feet and tights “I guess we had been moving under the influence of adrenaline, and immediately we realized we were in a safer zone, no one could take another step further.” Kwesi explained
They managed to get bikes to drop them at her brother’s place. After a few days, the large family had to look for a place to accommodate all of them. That was how the family was forced to rent a bungalow made up of a room and a parlor to accommodate the 10 members of the family.
Travelling and living in a new place unprepared can be very difficult. Kwesi’s family faced all the challenges an IDP can face. While they were already managing the space to accommodate all of them, they barely had what to eat and could barely afford paying their rents consistently. Begging and relying on well-wishers was the first way they devised to make ends meet. Her husband and three other children had to displace themselves to other places in search of jobs.
Reminiscing of what life used to be, coupled with the news that her shop was completely looted and later burnt down, Kwesi became constantly depressed which plunged her in serious health crisis. “I didn’t have money to go to the hospital, and I was ready to die” Kwesi recalled. While she was about giving up on life, the HIV-FREE IDP Project visited her neighborhood. She was referred to a hospital and all her bills taken care of by the project. Her family was also a happy recipient of a bag of rice, 10 liter of oil and 20 cubes of soap. “These things really helped me and my children. We did not have to beg, or wonder about what we will eat for about two months. This helped us to strategize better for the other days.’ Kwesi beamed.
“Life is not really going on well on our side. We are really grateful for the help so far but like Oliver Twist I will still ask for more. In the meantime, may God continue to bless the HIV-Free team to remember people like us. I’m alive today because of their timely intervention.” Kwesi concluded.