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New shelter for victims of anti-gay violence and bias in Cameroon

The LGBTI advocacy group Camfaids has secured funding and a site to reopen its shelter for victims of anti-LGBTI violence and discrimination.


From the African Human Rights Media Network


A moment of reflection in the Camfaids shelter. (Photo by Jacks Oke used with permission of the photo subject.)
A moment of reflection in the previous Camfaids shelter. (Photo by Jacks Oke used with permission of the photo subject.)

By Courtney Stans

The shelter closed in early November 2019 because of funding problems and because the landlord planned to sign a lease with new tenants.

Camfaids (the Cameroonian Foundation for AIDS) searched for a new site and contacted national and international financial supporters.

In the end, the needed finances came through shelter’s longtime supporters, the Swiss organization Lawyers Without Borders (Avocats sans frontieres), which has arranged for continued funding from the city of Geneva.

Now Camfaids has rented a large, secure house that can serve as a shelter for LGBTI people in need in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon,

According to Michel Engama, the leader of Camfaids:

“Finally, we can once again reach out to all needy LGBTI people to offer them an ideal, comfortable and secure environment for their development and their care in the event of violence and violations. Violence and violations will not go away overnight, but knowing that there is a welcoming environment is comforting.”

Starting in early 2017, the shelter served LGBTI victims of family rejection and violence based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. It has sheltered about 100 people, including some living with HIV-AIDS who received comprehensive medical care. Through the site, Camfaids provided a bed, psycho-social counseling, food, medical care, support with social reintegration, encouragement/empowerment and training in income-generating activities.

Those services were limited after the shelter closed in early November.

Reopening the shelter is important, Engama said, because “it helps poor LGBTQI people rebuild dignified, responsible, independent lives.”

According to one previous resident of the shelter:

“You have to live in this environment to know the importance of this place in the life of LGBTI people, especially in times of distress. This project is very beneficial for us. “

For the moment, no official opening date has been set.

 

Courtney Stans, the author of this article, is a journalist living in Cameroon. She writes under a pseudonym. Contact her at info@76crimes.com.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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