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BAYA, Bridging the digital divide between the Haves and Have Nots

Chei Marvellus Director of BAYA Enterprises

Bamenda Online recently caught up with Chei Marvellus, the Director of BAYA Enterprises to find out more about this association that came to the limelight of recent after it empowered a group of underprivileged girls from the rural areas surrounding Bamenda. She began by telling us that BAYA aims to assist disadvantaged girls and women in several challenging aspects of their lives like prevention and stigmitization aginst HIV AIDS, some obnoxious tradition against women and the girl child and to gain access to information and communication technology tools and employment or self-employment. He spoke to Abongwa Fozo at her Savanah Street office in Bamenda

Bamenda Online: What does BAYA stands for? 

Chei MarvellusBAYA actually is a word in my native language which means “to assist” this is mostly help or assistance towards an elderly woman or younger girls by the community. I thought BAYA was just appropriate for the idea we had in mind since we are making use of a partnership approach that makes use of all stakeholders within the communities in which we work including government institutions, local authorities and the private sector to assist vulnerable women and girls.

Bamenda Online: What is the objective of Baya?

Chei MarvellusBAYA purposely exists to support underprivileged girls and women to access information and communication technologies, combat the spread of HIV AIDS, fight all forms of stimitization against women and girls, challenge some existing customs and traditions that prohibit the devlopment of the girl child and women in general.  We support women with disabilities, single teenage mothers, school drop outs, street girls, girls from very poor background notably in the rural areas and orphans and empower them with the right knowledge and skills to help improve on their livelihoods, make informed decisions and offer them another opportunity in life and above all give them hope.

Bamenda Online: When was Baya created and what are some of its achievements this far?

Chei Marvellus:  BAYA was created barely a few months back, that was in February 2014. Since then we have been able to train and assist 22 underprivileged girls to gain ICT skills, mentorship, and work placement and employment opportunities in Cameroon, hold village meetings with women and girls to sensitize them on HIV AIDS and on how to be invloved in decision making at local leve. This has not been entirely by us but with partners like the Bamenda City Council and other councils in Mezam which have helped to offer them job placements and employment and some financial support from the Pollination Fund in the USA.

We are still starting, so we still have a long way to go towards achieving our goals. We are building a working partnership with the Regional Delegation of Social Affairs and Women Empowerment and the Family of the Northwest which is helping us identify our target group, give us technical assistance and the necessary legal framework in this sector.

Bamenda Online: Do you have a specific target?

Chei Marvellus: Yes we do, mostly girls between the ages of 14 and 19. These are those abandoned by their families, school dropouts, street girls, girls suffering from stigmatization because of one or two conditions, teenage mothers and girls from very poor background. These are our target groups and others alike.

Bamenda Online: Are there mechanisms put in place to ensure sustainability of the Baya project?

Chei MarvellusYou know, a project like this would not live to see another day if you don’t put in place such mechanisms. We would like to see this project completely self reliant within the next three to four years. We have registered BAYA as a social enterprise with the intention of setting up different income generating projects in the medium term.

Bamenda Online: Any last word?

Chei Marvellus:Yeah, Baya needs each and everyone's support. I think when the girl child is empowered the nation to is. So let people, let other NGOs, let goverments, let local councils and various goverment departments think about  empowering our girls particularly the disadvantaged. This is my plea, this is my cry.

Bamenda Online: Thank you so much.

Chei Marvellus:: Its me to thank you. You are welcome