There is a significant number of street kids in Cameroon; every year thousands of young people aged 10 to 20 years flee from the countryside to go to the city, often driven by challenging family circumstances and by the illusion of a better life.
In Yaoundé, capital of the country, the Edimar Centre hosts and assists street kids. AVSI is member of the board of directors of the Edimar Centre and this is the reason why, on the 26th of November, the two organizations celebrated 50 years of AVSI and 20 years of Edimar with more than 350 young people and the representatives of local institutions.
“As the Archbishop Wouking said during the opening day of this centre in 2002 – commented Mireille Yoga, director of the Edimar Centre during the opening of this event – This house is a palace and street kids are its princes.”
Father Maurizio Bezzi, founder of the Edimar Centre, also took part in the event and told the stories that struck him the most during his mission in Cameroon, like that one time when a young man who, after attending the centre, decided to give him the machete with which he would have planned his revenge after the loss of one of his hands.
The young kids supported by the Edimar Centre were the true protagonists of the celebration: the songs sung by the girls of the school built by Edimar in the neighbourhood of Etoudi in Yaoundé, the theatre performance that told the history of the centre, the fashion show with the creations of the students of the sewing workshop.
Among all the speeches, Lorenzo Manzoni, Chairman of the Board of directors of the Edimar Centre, claimed: “Today we celebrate 20 years of activity of Edimar and the friendship with AVSI: its support is a concrete example of the accompanying commitment that is renewed with the 50th anniversary since its foundation”.
Ngo Ntongne, Representative of the Ministry for Social Affairs, later took the floor and encouraged initiatives that would let street kids become protagonists of a path of change and growth. Ngo Ntongne cited as an example the “PERPER” project, that focuses on education and on the social and professional re-introduction of the street kids through a partnership between the Ministry for Social Affairs and the National Employment Fund.
Donatella Campioni, Chairman of the MAP - Monaco Aide et Présence Association, that has been supporting the activity of the Edimar Centre for years , gave a speech, concluding the morning celebration.