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Gastonkwa

Kwa Gaston is an MDGs Advocate from Cameroon. A committed activist, Gaston has organized and participated in awareness-raising, fundraising, and clean up campaigns, as well as presented a youth and international affairs radio talk show on a local radio station. Through blogging and other communications media, Gaston denounces the atrocities of gender-based violence and the stigmatizing of people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as promoting the values of education, environmental sustainability and the necessity of including youths and women in community development efforts. Gaston's belief in the power of togetherness, in the transforming potentials of education, and in the ability of young people to create positive and sustainable social change in their communities, coupled with his passion for the empowerment of young people, through education and training, have been the driving force for his efforts for more youth-focused and inclusive policy formulation and implementation processes. Gaston has served as co-director of Youth For Change International; editor-in-chief of The Secret, a youth, culture, and development focused magazine; Cameroon-country representative for the Youth Consortium for Progress; and co-founder of Association Job Espoir and Education 4 Development. Alongside serving as one of Women Deliver 100 Young Leaders, Gaston is an International Youth Blogger with Advocates for Youth and Action Partner of the Oxfam International Youth Partnerships (OIYP).He holds a diploma in Accounting from the University of Buea (Cameroon).
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In the past years, I have volunteered my skills and time on a number of community projects. But the feeling I had this morning after digging for the laying of pipes which will convey potable water to  the community of the of the Bassa Industrial area especially those of the “Plateau Guinness” neighborhood was  special. Special because sparked by the smiles on the faces  of the adults of this community who had come out in their numbers to contribute to the building of the taps from which will flow …

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“Nothing decisive,Nothing sustainable,can be done in our country as long as this important part of ourselves remains in the oppression imposed on them by different systems of exploitation….the true empowerment of women is that which makes the woman responsible,that includes her in productive activities, and in the fight against the different challenges faced by our people. The true emancipation of women is that which forces consideration and respect from men”
Though these words may sounds like those of a convinced women’s rights activist of the second decade of the …

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Quality Health Care Pic

Wow! How time flies. I can’t imagine I am year older (again), thought I this morning when I received an SMS from a friend I have long lost sight of. It read thus; “Happy Birthday and many more years” This is a classical birthday message that anyone will send to a friend or even an unknown person, you might be thinking. But this is not the case for me because unlike in the previous years when I will just receive these messages and file, I have this year decided …

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« KO! KO! KO! », shouted the crowd .Mind you, they weren’t participating in a boxing match, neither were they at a musical concert, they shouted KO! in response to the health officials that took turns in sensitizing the crowd of more than 5000 that gathered at the Douala Place du Gouvernement to participate in the 9KM sensitization Walk that was organized by the Cameroon’s Coalition of Businesses for the fight against HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and better known by its French acronym CCATSIDA, Cameroon’s Ministry of Public Health, and other stakeholders …

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A few weeks back  I listened attentively to ‘SOS Doctor’, one of the best health programs that be on Radio in Cameroon. As I listened, I got very happy at the great job that Dr. Dion Grace, a member of the National AIDS Control Committee of Cameroon was doing to educate Cameroonians on anti-retroviral drugs. She eloquently and insightfully answered every one of the questions that were posed to her by listeners who called-in and am sure her intervention in the program was a timely one. Everything was fine …

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Talking about young people in the part of the world where I come is already a sensitive issue and adding ‘rights’ which is another very explosive issue to this makes advocacy for the placing of youth rights at the heart of development a very difficult but not an impossible task. Behind these words lies the fears, doubts, and optimism of a participant at the just ended International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)-Beyond 2014 Global youth Forum (GYF) which held from the 4th to the 6th December 2012.They are …

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Another day has come and gone over Bali ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum.But as days come and go, the discussion intensifies and young people are more demanding to their governments, religious and traditional authorities, parents, and society at large.

Universal access to education,inclusive education, relevant education, quality education ,financing and partnerships, as well as ccomprehensive sexuality education were identified by participants at the ICPD beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum participants as being vital for comprehensive education to become a reality in our world and were thus recommended in …

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Gaston

What a long awaited and historic day for mankind has today being. The ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Youth Forum was officially opened today. In the presence of   close to a thousand participants, Indonesian officials, and  representatives of governments the world over, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA’s executive Director , in his speech  decried the  situation in which so many young people, especially those in the global south, live in before pointing  out the importance of this event, and then inviting  representatives of governments and those he termed “Seniors” to look  …

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Fighting HIV/AIDS and other diseases like malaria is one the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs) voted by the United Nation’s in the year 2000. Given that this fight seems to be slowing down and that more than 5% of Cameroonians are living with HIV/AIDS-60% of which are women and 40% falling in the youths category-there is a cause for concern on the strategy to be used for the achievement of MDGs.

 

Conscious that handicapped persons are also celebrated in December and given that living with HIV/AIDS is more and more …

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‘It was the best époque,’ said the driver to the man who occupied the front seat of the car as I boarded. ‘Yes it was,’ ‘Yes it was, ‘ quietly answered the middle aged man in a manner that clearly revealed that he was in a contemplative mood and took the discussion with the driver seriously. I must confess that as long as I have been boarding Taxis, never have I boarded one in which the atmosphere was so contemplative.   ‘How I wish that the youths of our time …

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Education is one of the cornerstones on which any development worth the name is built. The growing acknowledgement of this fact has led to the emergence of many nations in our world today. But the fact that education has become an item at the top of the agenda of major international bodies and policy formulation processes is not enough. The efficiency of the educational system is an important aspect of quality education that is most often neglected by educational authorities and policy makers in Cameroon. In fact, many now …

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“For once in my life, I had to make a choice between being a woman and my livelihood,” said an American business woman being interviewed about whom she voted for during the just ended elections in the USA, which saw the re-election of Barack Obama. These words have been ringing in my head since I first heard them on the 6th of November 2012.

For what reason in the world will the utterances of a wealthy American woman have such a deep impression on a guy who lives …

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Understanding the past-planning the future is the theme under which Cameroonians like their counterparts the world over celebrated this year’s edition of world Breastfeeding Week (WBW) running from the 17-23rd August 2012. Surprisingly and unlike other events of this nature, local media coverage of this year’s WBW in my opinion was excellent and raised lots of awareness among Cameroonians on exclusive breastfeeding.
As part of its coverage of WBW, Cameroon’s public radio CRTV sampled the opinion of women on what they thought about exclusive breastfeeding of babies in their …

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‘If Poverty had a name, it will be called Tansa Rose’, commented in a melancholic mood a reporter of Cameroon’s public Radio (CRTV). Tansa Rose is this 35 year old woman who died while giving birth to 4 babies in Kumba-a populous city in the South Western Region of Cameroon-recently. As shocking as this news is, it is common place in Cameroon to hear of women dying while giving birth so much so that nobody is surprised that in the 21st century; 3 years to the so much talked …

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12 August 2012 might have been a day like others for many around the world. But for me it’s a day that will go down into history as the day on which youths of the world were put in the limelight as never before.-It was International Youth Day and coincided with the closing of the 30th Olympics, throughout which the enthusiasm and dynamism of youth was celebrated. What baffles me is that though the importance of youths to the progress and smooth functioning of their communities is recognized, they …

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Last Sunday ,July 23rd, as the 19th International AIDS conference opened in the Washington DC, I got very curious and wanted to know how news on this very important event was been reported by local and international media houses. Undertaking this task, little did I know the discovery that my curiosity will lead me to. Talking of discoveries, they were all very bitter; in the first place in the local media it was business as usual with very little or no allusion being made of this year’s international conference …

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“We can be free only together, we can progress only together”, once said Desmond Tutu. Living in harmony and peace with his neighbours and self has and always will be one of the most pressing needs of man. In a bid to achieve this desire, so many attempts have been made; a considerable proportion of which have proven futile and another not less important portion successful. One of these attempts by men to live together over the years, has been the formation of blocks, groupings, or better still organizations …

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« Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves could free our minds…. ». These are the words of Robert Nesta Marley in his “Redemption Song”. In his own way, this Reggae legend was giving men and women of his generation, ours, and those to come the secret of a happy life-An emancipated life. Living a happy life now and/or in the future is what every human being longs for, but how happy one’s life is very subjective, as a happy life means different things to different people.

I …

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Poverty begins when even one child is denied his or her fundamental right to education. What begins with the failure to uphold the dignity of one life, all too often ends with a calamity for entire nations.

As the world celebrated its 7th Million baby on the 1st of November 2011, the above words of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan kept ringing in my head and I could not help but ask myself why the so much celebration at the birth of a child who like majority of …

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The long awaited and much talked about United Nation’s Sustainable Development conference has now come and is gone, and yet nothing not even an iota of a thing has changed in the conditions of living of the billions of people who the world over had great hopes in this conference. Please think not that I am mad and expecting miracles to happen just a few days after the Rio+20 conference. I, like many people believe that change takes time to happen. But I am also convinced that the days …

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A 24 year old suing her father. This is a very rare phenomenon in Cameroon which has a culture which makes it taboo for the dirty linens of the family to be washed public. Even more rare is when it is a young girl suing her father and for an atrocious practice which though seen as such by a majority of people in this part of the world is growing in intensity because of inaction on the part of society, guilt and shame on the part of the victims …

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According to the International Labour Organisation, more than 600 000 children (Most of whom are girls) were victims of child trafficking in 2005.Most of these victims are girls who do not go to school or are school dropouts. Horizon Jeunesse (Youth Horizon), an NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) based in Yaoundé (Cameroon’s capital city) claims that, about three million the Cameroonian children are working or being trafficked in conditions of near slavery (http://ipsnews.net/africa/nota.asp?idnews=34063).These children are often taken away from their parents by their relatives who promise to provide the children education …

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My neighbourhood, like most neighbourhoods in Cameroon, has a good number of what is popularly known in this part of the world as ‘parlement’ or parliament in English. As its name indicates, these are places where issues affecting the community, the country and the world are discussed but contrary to the conventional meaning of the word ‘ parliament’ , the members of this ‘August House ’ do not represent any electoral district and are not elected by constituents but by unemployment.

Issues and most especially persons are discussed at …

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The destiny of every nation, village and community lies in the hands of its people and is closely linked to their intellectual development. All the nations, villages and communities we admire, hail or despise today are only a fruit of its people’s concern or complacency to partake in their nation, village and community development efforts.

Education and especially that of the girl child is one of these development efforts from which people in rural and urban communities in Cameroon are being excluded. Consciously or unconsciously, an ever increasing number …

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Cause of the death of a child every second, infects 350-500 million people every year, and kills more than 1 million people in the world. These are the numbers, which according to the United Nations’ Children Funds(UNICEF), which best describe the toll of Malaria on our world’s inhabitants- especially those in Africa where more than 90% of Malaria deaths occur and where Malaria accounts for more than 20 % of child deaths(UNICEF)

Women and children suffer from Malaria. When infected during pregnancy, the toll of Malaria is heavier not …

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In Cameroon, taxis and other public transport have become the place where Cameroonians most enjoy discussing political and social issues. And so it happened a few weeks ago that I boarded a Taxi whose driver did not stop telling people of the disgust he had for parents who send their girls to school.

At 14, when my daughter passes her BEPC(GCE o level), I send her to school for two more years to go and ‘waste time’ so that she reaches 16 and I give her out to

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Rarely in Cameroon does a week go by without one hearing of an attempted child theft or of the disappearance of a child. The most popular of this is the Vanessa Tchatchou affair (Read my blog post on this affair).The theft of Vanessa’s baby is not an isolated case in Cameroon, in the past 2 months the local media has reported more than 2 cases of child theft (HERE and HERE, ). This rising rate of acts of child thievery in Cameroon exposes the ugly face of …

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Being part of a world where according to statistics from the World Health Organization at least 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking-water and 2.4 billion persons live without access to sanitation systems with 5000 children dieing everyday from avoidable water-related diseases, and at the heart of a continent(Africa) where only 5% of its rural area dwellers(the majority of its population) have access to safe drinking water (http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/hygiene/en/), Cameroon is one of those countries in which this year’s world water day’s theme: Water and Food security has a …

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« Those women that are marching pass [the first lady] at this moment should know that the best way to celebrate the 8th of March is boycott the parade to force the authorities not to necessarily give back my baby, but to put an end to the traffic of babies in public hospitals». This the outcry of an inconsolable mother to press men last march 8th as women celebrated International Women’s Day in pump and pageantry the world over.

For more than half a year, she has been deprived …

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Today, in Afghanistan, a girl will be born. Her mother will hold her and feed her, comfort her and care for her – just as any mother would anywhere in the world. In these most basic acts of human nature, humanity knows no divisions. But to be born a girl in today’s Afghanistan is to begin life centuries away from the prosperity that one small part of humanity has achieved. It is to live under conditions that many of us…would consider inhuman.

I speak of a girl in Afghanistan, …