By Fru Rita Ngum and Awa Jacques Chirac:
CBCHS’ Socio Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SEEPD) programme are exploring ways of collaborating with the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) to extend the Savings and Internal Leading Communities (SILC) services to persons with disabilities with the objective of improving their livelihood in a sustainable way. This move was sanctioned by a meeting in Yaounde on June 29, 2017 between the SEEPD Programme Manager, Mr. Awa Jacques Chirac and the Coordinator of SILC.
In the planning of SEEPD Phase 3, the programme identified Associations of Persons with Disabilities that are practicing SILC with limited skills. Unfortunately, SEEDP did not have the competent skills to build the capacities of the Associations in implementing SILC. In 2016, the CBM Livelihood Advisor visited the SEEPD programme to advise on how to shift to the SILC services which is a concept that is carried out globally.
It was against this backdrop that the SEEPD programne identified Plan Cameroon and the CRS as strategic organizations that have been implementing these services to seek collaboration with them in implementing SILC in the NWR. The Yaounde meeting with CRS was based on the fact that CRS is a credible International Organization in Cameroon that has a good evident track report on implementing SICL in the Bamenda Health District that are also open to partnership.
During, the meeting, CRS expressed willingness in supporting the SEEPD programme technically to extend the SILC services in other parts of the NWR given that they are already working with the CBC Health Services in the area of HIV.
CRS already has the Arch Diocese of Bamenda as its implementing partner in Bamenda District. When the partnership is finalized in the days ahead, the SEEPD programme will be another implementing partner to carry out SILC beyond the Bamenda Health District.
The advantage of internal saving is that it does not depend on donor funding, but it has long term sustainable benefits not only on the individual but also on the communities. The scheme also promotes inclusion given that persons with disabilities are part of other mainstream groups that practice SILC, thus it will promote their participation in other social and community activities.
It should be noted that CBCHS supported and promoted livelihood initiatives for persons with disabilities since 1952 with the setting up of the leprosy hospital in Mbingo using three key strategies; vocational training, provision of micro loans and advocacy for formal employment.