The story of Emerencia Agendia is like that of many persons who have been displaced by the current socio-political crisis wrecking the two anglophone Regions of Cameroon since 2017. Emerencia is a 26-year-old single mother of three who hails from Lebialem Division in the Southwest Region of Cameroon.
Three years ago, her village suffered a raid in which her brother was killed during a confrontation between the State Armed Forces and some Non-State Armed gunmen. Their family compound was completely razed down. Her ordeal started from that point, as she was forced to flee from one community to the next searching for a safe host community. Just imagine the toll such a journey can take on a woman who has not completely recovered from delivery, moving with three children aged six, four and two weeks old respectively. “You will never understand my emotional and physical state when we finally settled in Idenau, a fishing settlement,” Emmerencia recounts with teary eyes. “I will never know for sure if my son’s condition didn’t result from the torments we went through for more than two weeks; being alive today with all my children is nothing short of a miracle.”
Life in Idenau with three little kids and no source of livelihood was very difficult. Emmerencia met a fisherman in the area who took upon himself to help her. As if she has not had enough of life’s valley experiences, business started going down the drain for her new companion, as if to confirm the saying that it never rains, but it pours. Tired of the difficult life conditions in Idenau, Emmerencia and her man decided to move to a little village in Buea called Lykoko.
The dream of a new beginning full of promise didn’t hold long in Lykoko, as the village was feeling the full economic impact of the crisis. The newly formed family was unable to find a house worthy of the name, talk less of being able to put meals on their table. To make matters worse, their youngest son, Babeng Precious, who was barely five months old at the time fell sick. He would run high temperatures and cry all night long. The family struggled to take him to the nearest health centre where he was diagnosed of having Hernia and referred to a hospital for proper management. For close to two years, the family was unable to raise a sufficient amount to take Precious to the hospital. His condition grew worse by the day as he visibly became thin and pale. The only medication they could afford was Paracetamol gotten by the road side to lower his temperature and ease the pain he was having frequently.
“I can’t even describe the condition in which the Cameroon Baptist Convention (CBC) Health Services mobile team found me in. The fact that all the members of the team emptied their pockets to give us when they came to our house during their door-to-door education and sensitization campaigns, is telling enough of the gravity of our situation.” From that day on, they will call from time to time to find out how Precious was doing. Two weeks after that, they asked me to prepare and bring my son to the Baptist Hospital in Mutengene. The call came as a relief to me, as I was very depressed since my son had started running high temperature again. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with Malaria which has led to Anemia, this alongside his old Hernia diagnosis. He had to be treated for Malaria before undergoing a surgical procedure for Hernia. We spent a total of ten days in the hospital, under constant good care. It is at the hospital that I was told CBC works in partnership with UNICEF. “I can never forget the day we left the hospital! I felt like a new dawn was breaking for me. To be honest, I had not been able to do anything consistently since I constantly had to take care of my sick son.”
We would have most certainly lost our son if the CBC didn’t come to our community to fish us out. I’m sure there are many more displaced children like Precious languishing in other communities, living in abject poverty and unable to access basic life necessities, healthcare inclusive. My prayer is that God should increase the money CBC and UNICEF are using, so as to enable them reach more communities and save thousands of desperate children, especially now that the crisis is not abating.
By Vivian Maku