In a small village (Bandjoun) close to Bafoussam West Region of Cameroon lives a young girl, Bruneille Yimdjo. Bruneille is one of many children who suffer abuse from parents following an unfounded accusation. Accused of witchcraft by her mother and step father, Bruneille has undergone a series of abuse ranging from physical, psychological and emotional abuse.
It all began when Bruneille’s mother started living with her present ‘partner’ in Bafoussam. As a child from a previous union, Bruneille was subjected to torture which resulted to the child running away from home and contacting her grandmother who lives in Bandjoun, a locality about 17 kilometers from Bafoussam.
Matchinde Leontine, a 49 year old teacher by profession narrates the story of Bruneille, her granddaughter, with whom she now lives. According to her, Bruneille has suffered brutality from the hands of her mother who regularly beats her, refuses to give her food, abandons and neglects her in addition to accusations of her stealing food and practicing witchcraft. The accusation of the girl as a witch possessed by marine spirits was confirmed by a Pastor in a nearby church where she was taken to for deliverance. Her mother and step father later resolved to take her to a soothsayer. The soothsayer prescribed frequent beating of the child to get rid of the marine spirits in her. This unbearable torture was accompanied by isolation, as Bruneille was obliged to sleep in the packing store for one month, away from the rest of the family members who incessantly threw slangs at her and performed other abusive actions. Also, Bruneille experienced starvation as punishment to such accusations, she had no other option than to abandon home and seek help on the streets. In her attempt to run to her grandmother in Bandjoun, Bruneille was discovered by a journalist on the streets of Bafoussam crying and tying to call her grandmother through a public call box.
Thanks to the intervention of the journalist, her grandmother was contacted who showed up and took the child to her home in Bandjoun.
Talking in an emotional compact voice, Bruneille narrates her story, a story that reduced all listeners to total silence and teary eyes. She was subjected to bare-bodied beatings in sessions where she was forced to remove her dress and her underwear. The worst part of the torture was experienced when pepper was forced into her vagina after serious beatings following accusations of food theft and witchcraft. Further threats to torture her necessitated her escape, as she never returned home after school.
The story of Bruneille was later reported to the Disability Inclusive Child Protection Office at the Bafoussam Baptist Hospital. They started with investigations and met Bruneille’s grandmother. This intervention has resulted to Bruneille staying with her grandmother in the village and attending school happily there, one of her greatest wishes. Bruneille now lives as a happy child. In her words, ‘when I was living there (in Baoussam) I was not happy because the constant beating made me to feel pain all over my body. Now (in Bandjoun) I am in perfect health and very happy being here”. She confirms that she does well in school and greatly expresses her gratitude to the project for helping her.
Quizzed on what she wants to be in the future, Bruneille immediately says she wants to be a Police Officer. This, to the amusement of everyone who think her choice of a future profession may have been borne out of the situation in which she found herself and may want to ensure that other children do not undergo the same kind of maltreatment.
By Clementina NJANG Yong.