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Participants get ready for the "problem solver game"As a Cameroonian, I can testify that gender stereotypes still exist in my country. For example, in my village, Babessi, we are expected to get married at a certain age. When I last went to the village, my relatives were surprised that I wasn't married or haven't had a child at the age of 23. To them, my masters degree would make me a less desirable wife.

In Regions like the North, women are not encouraged to be leaders, and people often say, "a woman's place is in the kitchen" . In order to breakdown such gender barriers, Breaking Ground, in partnership with Coaches Across Continents ( CAC )  organized a soccer program in Ngoundere and Dschang in order to train local cameroonian coaches.

We had three volunteers from CAC, Charlie; the ground coordinator, Mike; a high school teacher, and Lea; a Swiss national, volunteering untill grad school in the fall. They had two training sessions, one in Ngoundere and the other in Dschang and did activities that promoted life skills, taught about HIV/AIDS, coorperation, and leadership.

Participants were encouraged to work like a team. For example, in the game called "problem solver", they were divided into groups of three and formed a circle. Each group was given a ball and had to carry it around the circle without using their hands, and not letting the ball touch the ground. Each group succeeded but used very different solutions. This game was to teach participants the power of teamwork and how to coorperate with each other.

The coaches also taught games like " Run like a girl" where they gave directions like "kick like a girl" or "kick like a boy." At the end, the coaches asked them why they did the activities differently as a girl or as a boy. The game's goal was to examine gender roles and show participants that, whether you are a man or woman, boy or girl, they are equal.

 At the end of the week, Breaking Ground was happy to see the creation of girl leaders who will contribute to develop their community, breakdown gender stereotypes and use sports as a development tool.


Meet Our New Social Media Intern!

Breaking Ground is happy to introduce our new Social and Media Communications Intern, Melissa Mariembe. She was born in Ndop, North West Region of Cameroon, specifically in Babessi village in Bamenda. She obtained a bachelors degree in Law at the University of Buea and is currently a student of the masters program International Trade And Investment Law in Africa at the University of Dschang.                           

She will be working with our Peace Corps volunteer, Haley, for the next month in order to be trained on publishing Breaking Ground's social media updates. She will begin work in August. Let's welcome Melissa to the Breaking Ground team!


A Healthier World, One Water Pump at a Time

In Cameroon, one often hears the phrase, “water is life.”  It’s true – water is a necessity of all living things, and providing clean, disease-free water to all seven billion people on Earth is a growing challenge.  According to the World Health Organization, 1.1 billion people currently lack any access to a potable water source, putting them at risk for a multitude of diseases, including cholera, dysentery, and intestinal parasites.  Additionally, 1.6 million people die from diarrheal diseases every year, and 90 percent of these deaths are children.

In the Adamaoua Region, cow herding is a common economic activity. The herds often wade through streams, contaminating the local water sources.The Adamaoua region of Cameroon, is home to the Fulbe ethnic group, a traditionally nomadicgroup that practices cow herding and is present throughout West Africa. To this day, cow herding remains a major economic activity, and it is common that herds wade through rivers and streams, contaminating the water source. 

Community Members in Beka Hossere build the water pumpBreaking Ground’s most recent project, funded by Memorial Flavia, is a water project in Beka Hossere, a village of 20,000 residents in the Adamaoua Region.  Recently, our executive director, Paul, traveled up to survey the progress, as the construction is currently underway.  Construction began in April, and when finished, the water pump will supply 3500 inhabitants of Beka Hossere with potable water, providing these people with a basic human right.  The project is scheduled to be finished at the end of June 2016.  


Does the Solution Lie in a Soccer Ball?

Today, our world is ridden with conflict: with war, famine, and political upheaval… and our world leaders spend decades trying to find a solution.   

Did they ever think that the solution could be as simple as a soccer ball?

Today, April 6, is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, a day to celebrate the role that sports can take in encouraging cooperation and solving conflicts.  Sports are universal activities that promote values such as fair play, discipline, and teamwork, values that contribute to a more peaceful and cohesive society. 

Breaking Ground uses sports to address critical development issues in Cameroon, especially those concerning gender equality and women’s empowerment.  In collaboration with Coaches Across Continents, Breaking Ground is currently organizing our annual Girls Soccer Tournament, held in the city of Ngaoundéré, in the Adamaoua region.  This year’s tournament will take place on the week of June 12th.A girls' soccer team in Ngaoundéré

The Adamaoua Region is a region that is predominantly Muslim and culturally conservative, meaning that young girls are often married at a young age, preventing them from finishing their education and burdening them with the responsibility of managing a household and children.  Men are considered the head of the household, and women are often barred from leaving their compound without the permission of their husband.  Our program aims to provide address these issues through soccer as a social development program; through participating in sports, these women will develop a sense of independence and leadership that challenges their traditional patriarchal society.  We, at Breaking Ground, believe that soccer can help create a more just, equal world, which is why we sincerely wish you, our readers, a Happy International Day of Sport for Development and Peace!


Happy International Women's Day!

March 8th, International Women’s Day, is a day for women.  In Cameroon, women buy a “pagne (a very colorful, patterned cloth),” march in a parade, and at the end of the day, spend the night drinking and dancing.  It is a day to celebrate women and all that they do… and boy, do these women do a lot!  Cameroonian women are responsible for pretty much EVERYTHING – cooking, washing, cleaning, fetching water, taking care of the children, farming the family’s field, and selling their farm’s produce at the market.  In many cases, if the husband is unemployed or absent, they are the sole economic provider for the family.Breaking Ground at the University of Dschang Radio Station, talking about gender equality for International Women's Day

Unfortunately, despite their vital role in society, both legally and practically, women’s rights in Cameroon have much progress to make.  Adultery, when committed by a woman, is punishable by law through prison sentences and fines… but for a man, adultery is only punishable if it takes place in the marital home and is “habitual (art. 361).  Although rape is criminalized, if it takes within a marriage, it is not punishable by law (art. 296).  Legally, the man is considered to be the head of the family (art. 213), and is entitled to control of their marital property (art. 108 and 215).  Outside of the law, women are expected to conform to certain cultural norms, often preventing them from achieving equal roles in society.

I recently asked the woman who runs my neighborhood bar what she thinks about Women’s Day, and I was both surprised and pleased by her answer.  “I think it’s sad that Cameroonian women, instead of fighting for their rights, have one day in the entire year where they can drink.  Cameroonian women’s rights are far behind the rest of the world, and we need to work for them,” she said.Breaking Ground organized a girls' soccer tournament in Ngaoundere on March 8

Breaking Ground is in agreement, which is why many of our development programs choose to focus on women and girls.  Our women’s entrepreneurial program is designed to empower women and give them the skills they need in order to increase their economic role in society.  The girl’s soccer program teaches young girls vital skills, including health topics such as HIV and breaking down gender roles, and encourages them to become future leaders in Cameroonian society.  Last week, Breaking Ground participated in a radio show at the University of Dschang, discussing topics such as gender roles, gender equality, and the future of women in Cameroon.  Breaking Ground hopes that, with programs such as this, women will, some day, benefit from equal rights and opportunities around the globe.