The ‘Project to Support the Socio-economic resilience of Vulnerable Youth’ (PARSE), based in Garoua, continues to empower the disenfranchised youth living in the three northern regions of Cameroon. These regions are faced with a substantial unemployment and underemployment problem, plaguing particularly the young.
Initiated at the end of 2016, PARSE has allowed over the past two years young people to put their interest and skills to work, by providing them with vocational training in fields of interests, such as tailoring, woodwork and metal joining. PARSE has also provided them installation kits to create start-ups that enable them to earn their livelihoods and support the long-term development of their communities. Thus far, an estimated 4438 young Cameroonians from 18 communities have attended vocational training courses, while 4345 have benefited from installation kits.
Opening their own small business has transformed these young people’s lives. Salamatou Aie is one of the PARSE beneficiaries in the small town of Guider, in the North region of Cameroon. With the support of PARSE, she participated in a computer training for three months. For her, it was the first time that she had ever sat in front of a computer, which she did not know how to turn on. However, she was not intimidated, but eager to learn and advance herself. She finished the training among the top of her peers. Now, she is running a printing and internet center on one of the busiest streets of her town. Salamatou has told us: ‘PARSE changed everything in my life. On a financial and psychological level. I can now feed my children and my family, even the community is benefiting, as my children are sharing their meals with their friends.’
Salamatou is proactive and highly determined to succeed. She is constantly approaching schools and businesses to ensure that they print their documents at her printing shop. She intends to further grow her business by buying more equipment. Hopefully, one day soon she will be able to install solar panels to provide her business with electricity.
Another young participant, Ousmaila Bouba, spent years in Yaounde, away from his hometown, , Garoua, the capital of the North region. In the Cameroonian capital he was trained to be a carpenter and, for many years, earned little to nothing as his employer refused to pay him. With the little he earned, he started saving to try to go to Europe, which was his biggest dream since his teenage years. Ousmaila has tried to leave Cameroon twice, but impediments along the way always forced him to return. When a relative told him about the PARSE project, he decided to return to his hometown of Garoua and give it another chance. Now, he is running his own carpentry shop and is content to be back. He confesses: ‘I could have never imagined I could be a successful entrepreneur in my native Garoua. It is like I’ve been given a second chance at life.’
Annette Braun, PARSE’s project manager, has emphasized that one of the central aspects of PARSE, apart from offering young people the opportunity to be financially independent and stable, is to allow them to envision a brighter future for themselves. She emphasizes that PARSE makes it possible for them to contribute to the development of their communities and of Cameroon as a whole.