Cameroon: New leadership for activist group Camfaids

Logo of Camfaids
Logo of Camfaids

The Cameroonian activist organization Camfaids has a new leadership team that aims to expand its advocacy for LGBTI rights, strengthen its partnerships with local allies, and enlarge its work promoting the health of sexual minorities.

Brice Evina was elected  the new president of Camfaids, replacing Camfaids co-founder Dominique Menoga, who sought and won asylum in France several months before co-founder Eric Lembembe was murdered in Yaoundé in 2013.

Eitel Ella Ella, the former executive coordinator, was chosen as executive director. Michel Engama remains the group’s administrative and financial director.

The reorganization came after a report to Camfaids from a French management consultant from the 5% Initiative on AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a French project that provides expert advisors for Global Fund health initiatives for French-speaking countries in the developing world.  The consultant recommended installation of locally based leadership, improved teamwork in decision-making, and other organizational changes.

The reorganization was approved in a general membership meeting on Nov. 8, which was attended by four independent observers from different associations.

The new leadership team of Camfaids praised and thanked Menoga, the outgoing president, for his strong engagement in the fight against HIV and STIs and in the fight for the rights of LGBTI people.

Ella Ella said that in the coming year:

“CAMFAIDS plans to continue to strengthen its promotion and defense of the human rights of LGBT people, fight against all forms of discrimination and stigma against these persons in Cameroonian society, and denounce all forms of abuse and injustices done to them.

Journée mondiale du sida, une manifestation de CAMFAIDS visant à réduire le risque de contracter le VIH.
Camfaids organized this AIDS information program for World AIDS Day in 2012.

“We also plan to expand our partnerships with human rights defense organizations such as REDHAC — where partnership activities have already been undertaken through which we will gain the status of observer for various commissions and African conferences, which will allow us to make submissions and oral presentations to expose and denounce the situation of LGBT people in Cameroon — ADEFHO in Douala, ACODEV in Kribi, CAMEF in Limbe, and Amis du Coeur.

“ We will also continue our outreach, prevention, screening, counseling and comprehensive care against HIV / AIDS, STIs among LGBT people in partnership with hospitals and health organizations such as CAMNAFAW and the Biyem-Assi district hospital.

“In the short, medium and long term, we intend to extend the scope of our work for sexual and reproductive health:

Jean Jacques prepares food to take to six LGBT prisoners in Yaounde during the visit by delegates from the St. Paul’s Foundation. He is part of a vital lifeline between Camfaids and many who are incarcerated without charge or evidence of illegal behavior. (Photo courtesy of Albert Ogle)
Camfaids member prepares food packet for LGBTI prisoners in Yaoundé’s Central Prison. (Photo courtesy of Albert Ogle)

•    Among prison populations in general, but especially among incarcerated LGBT people, working with [the French-based international health organization] GIP ESTHER, which is one of our financial and technical partners, and

•    Among sex workers through the Shadow and Light project, where we work with CAMNAFAW [the Cameroon National Planning Association for Family Welfare, a key player in Cameroon’s fight against AIDS, which is supported by the Global Fund, the governments of Cameroon and Japan, the U.N.Population Fund and others].

“ We also hope to expand our work for prevention and awareness of  opportunistic infections such as tuberculosis and hepatitis.”

Camfaids has the same priorities as before, Ella Ella said, which he listed as:

  • Recognition of LGBT people.
  • Promotion and enhancement and defense of their rights.
  • Fighting all forms of discrimination and stigma against LGBT people.
  • Denunciation of all injustice and violence targeting LGBT people.
  • Elimination of prejudice and hatred towards LGBT people.
  • Reduction of homophobia by educating the general population.
  • Repeal of Section 347 bis [the part of the Cameroonian Penal Code that provides for prison sentences of up to five years for same-sex intimacy].
  • Reducing the incidence of HIV in the LGBT community.
  • Improving access to health care for LGBT people.

He said Camfaids has strengthened its relations with other groups fighting AIDS and promoting LGBTI rights in Cameroon, including Affirmative Action, Humanity First, Alternatives Cameroon, Amis du Coeur, ADEFHO, Cer Ludhus, Acodevo, Positive Generation, Lady’s Cooperation, and ADEPEV.

In coordination with the reorganization, Camfaids switched to a new email address:  [email protected].

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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