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« Alex's first week in Cameroon: Planting Palm in Folepi | Main | Transparency Matters »

Celebrating Cameroonian Mothers

Paul Zangue, Program Manager, with his family.

"Mothers’ Day is not celebrated in Cameroon, but mothers are a symbol which we respect and honor every day. On top of their traditional roles, Cameroonian mothers are gradually taking on more and more responsibilities. In Cameroon, women are increasingly becoming the head of the household and making the main contribution to family expenses because the husband is unemployed or makes an insufficient income. The Enquête Auprès des Ménages Camerounais (Cameroonian Household Survey) conducted in 2006, found that children raised in households where the mother is head of the household have a better likelihood of receiving a good education and are in better health. Even in households where the husband also earns income, the woman often takes full responsibility for raising the children and earns an independent income to pay for the costs of school and healthcare.

To accomplish this role, women often engage in small shops and other small businesses like selling donuts, farming, hairdressing or sewing. However, in their efforts to care for their families, they are still limited by the resources and opportunities available to them.

This is where the Women’s Entrepreneurial Program comes in.  In Cameroon’s rapidly changing society, where the lack of infrastructure seriously jeopardizes the future of children in this country, one wonders whether a greater involvement of mothers, with their sense of fairness and their foresight, would not ensure a better future for their children and grandchildren."

--Paul Zangue


Alex Moore, Executive Director, at the home of Miriamou in N’gaoundéré

"Though the roles of women differ between the different regions, throughout Cameroon Les Mamans
are the heart and soul of a Cameroonian family. Often responsible for raising not only their own
children, but the children of their neighbors and family members, a Cameroonian mother is ready to
feed an army at the drop of a hat. For example, Miriamou (pictured above, center) cooks a large pot of
something delicious (perhaps Folere with cous cous) every day, and gladly shares it with whoever drifts into her kitchen. She welcomes younger girls into her home for help with sewing, for advice, for support during illness. To help with family expenses she sews from home, as well as selling bags of frozen juice to the kids in her neighborhood.

Cameroonian mothers are the definition of strong women, juggling multiple roles and receiving very
little recognition (financial or otherwise). They toil long hours in their fields, cook in front of smoky
fires, can roll scalding hot sugar with their fingers or cut red onions without crying. In addition they may be a full time teacher, a student, a mother of four, and still manage to be impeccably dressed.

Most importantly, a Cameroonian mother will take great pride in fattening up her American daughter with an endless supply of plantains, avocados, macabo, beans and rice."

-- Alex Moore

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