Junior Beauclaire Mbanya ’14 currently studying Chemical Engineering at the University of Rochester, was recently awarded a Davis Project for Peace grant for his program “Togetherness for Peace”, which he hosted in his hometown of Douala, Cameroon.
The goal of Beauclaire’s project, “Togetherness For Peace” was to build entrepreneurial skills and facilitate restorative justice for both internally displaced victims of the current Anglophone crisis in Yaoundé, as well as the violent offenders in the Kribi Principal Prison in Kribi, Cameroon.
“Togetherness For Peace” focused specifically on providing internally displaced women from crisis-affected regions with psycho-social and economic support, empowering them to become advocates for peace, as well as giving violent offenders a new lease on life by economically empowering them with alternatives to violence.
“The Togetherness for Peace project created a platform to build a community of Internally Displaced Entrepreneurs (IDEs) to whose struggle society has been unresponsive . The sole focus of the community will be to support each other and lead peace discussions in other communities. In the short term, this new community of IDEs will serve as a support system for other victims who are still struggling with the challenges that come with being displaced. In addition to this, the rehabilitation center built for violent offenders in Kribi provides a platform for the long-term contribution of this project to peace,” says Beauclaire.
In order for Beauclaire to gain access to the internally displaced women in Yaoundé, he partnered with HaRO (Hope and Rehabilitation Organization) Cameroon, an organization which provides sustainable solutions to vulnerable groups. He said, “Together, they had meetings to understand the profile of our participants and how to best impact them. They also added another component to the project to also work with violent offenders in prison in a bid to counter violence and crime”.
“Working with the internally displaced women in Yaoundé was an awesome experience. My local partners – LOYOC and HARO Cameroon were extremely supportive especially in ensuring all project-related resources were accessible,” says Beauclaire.
The impact of the project became evident to me when BBC Pidgin News wrote an article about the change I was initiating in the Cameroonian society.
“When I witnessed the mood shift of the women- from crying on the first day to laughing and smiling on the last days, then I understood inner transformation the victims experienced as well as the project’s value. I learned that the best way to contribute to peace is by initiating and being constantly invested in the process”, says Beauclaire
This is not Beauclaire’s first project on community building and peace empowerment. Watch this video to see Beauclaire speaking at “Teach For All” – Student Talk in 2016:
What is the Davis Projects for Peace:
The Davis Projects for Peace is an initiative for all undergraduate students currently enrolled at one of our participating Davis United World College Scholars Program partner schools, and a few other institutions to design grassroots projects anywhere in the world, which promote peace and address the root causes of conflict among parties. It was created in 2007 by international philanthropist Kathryn W. Davis, who committed $1 million for 100 grassroots projects to celebrate her 100th birthday.
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