Working together to make life easier in Cameroon

Stories | May 23, 2022

People with disabilities often find themselves isolated and homebound due to shame, fear of community judgement and families that overprotect and underestimate them.

But when they come out into public life, get together, and collaborate, miraculous things can happen that turn individual suffering into public community benefit and sometimes joy.

Elvis, a 38-year-old from Cameroon in West Africa, started having seizures at 19. For almost two decades, his attacks curtailed his mobility and fed his shame and fear of community judgement. With the support of CBM Australia’s project partner, he finally got the proper medications to control his epilepsy, enabling him to once again feel confident in public. However, the $8 per month that it cost Elvis to go to the hospital in the town to refill his prescription was beyond his modest means.

With the help of CBM’s project, Elvis turned his problem into a community solution. CBM’s team connected him to several others in his local area who needed regular seizure medication but struggled with transport costs. He brought them together into a cooperative that negotiated a monthly delivery from the hospital. They used some of the savings in transportation costs to create a fund to provide small bridging loans to members experiencing financial hardship.  

By empowering people with a disability, like Elvis, to take leadership positions in public, it is possible to imagine a world in which nobody with a disability feels shame or needs charity or pity.

This involves more than providing the resources for individuals like Elvis to get healthcare and create productive collaborations. It also means changing attitudes among families, local institutions, and the public by developing visibility and providing positive information and education about people with disabilities and influencing institutions.

Written by Anthony Marcus

CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) for this project.

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