The crown of peace
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Letter to Friends around the World # 101

When I was a child my mother always used to say that “the best way to respond to violence is with peace” and “if you have friends who love peace then work with them to spread the word”. I remember the day when she set up a big blackboard at home, headed “love and peace chart”, with a column for each child. At dinner one day she instructed us  to “put a tick in your column every time you lend a helping hand, break up an argument, or do a good turn”, adding that “at the end of the week whoever has the most ticks will be awarded the crown of peace”. So  thanks to our mother my sisters and I put in place a peace network at our schools and amongst our friends.

Later, as a young adult, I worked with friends to set up an association  called the Young Entrepreneurs of Bonassama. Our members are united   by a desire to foster civic participation amongst young people. We  organise workshops and exchange visits in their neighbourhoods, which are designed to stimulate dialogue and mutual comprehension and to encourage young people to listen to one another, to respect differing points of view, and to welcome diversity.

We appreciate for example that education is an essential element of  development. Youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds have real difficulty in getting an education, because they lack funds or even because they simply do not realise how important it is. Our activities help them to understand that going to school can be valuable, bring benefits, and be  enjoyable. We also raise awareness by talking to parents, particularly   mothers, about the important role they play in transmitting values to their children.

In 2018 the Young Entrepreneurs targeted youth groups, because the possibility of socio-economic exclusion means that young people face lots of dangers; they risk getting involved with gangs and terrorist groups, in drug and alcohol abuse, in prostitution, and so on. We ran awareness campaigns both on social media and on the streets of  Greater Douala, reaching some 10,000 and 1,000 young people  respectively.

Martinien M., Young Entrepreneurs of Bonassama, Cameroon