In 2015, two of our second-year Advice Project teen journalists - Shneider Remi Adams and Gaelle Mambo, from Bamenda, Cameroon - filmed a documentary about some of the gender-based issues teen girls face in their community. Focusing on child abuse, hawking (the selling of wares in the streets and in markets), rape, and breast ironing, Shneider and Gaelle not only illustrated the problems, but they presented innovative solutions.
The documentary, called Hidden Truths: Exposing cultural practices that hurt teen girls in Cameroon, premiered August 22, 2016 at the Millennial Empowerment Conference in Bamenda, Cameroon. This conference, organized by the Marie-claire N. Kuja Foundation at St. Louis University, was attended by change-makers from Cameroon, the USA, Ghana, Uganda, France, Germany, and focused on the theme of 'turning challenges into opportunities'.
After showing the film, Advice Project teen journalists from Cameroon and the U.S.A. sat on a panel moderated by Advice Project Founder Melissa Banigan. Answering questions about victim-blaming, teen choice, and the issues that were highlighted in the documentary, the teens also discussed the importance of lifting teen voices. They asked members of the media sitting in the audience to consider offering them paid opportunities for journalistic work, and after the panel they were offered not one, but three (!!) opportunities from adults who work in media in their community. While they are still considering these opportunities, they have in the meantime accepted an offer to present their film again in October at the University of Buea in the South West Region of Cameroon (details coming soon!).
The teens are currently in production of their second documentary, which focuses on how traditional fons (kings) in Cameroon are ending harmful practices against women such as widow rites in order to advance their entire communities. In addition, they are writing new op-eds and are researching indigenous peoples rights and forest conservation issues in Cameroon in preparation for a trip in 2017 with Farmer Tantoh Nforba (an Ashoka Fellow) to the Congo River Basin in the South East Region of Cameroon.
Watch Hidden Truths: Exposing cultural practices that hurt teen girls in Cameroon, below, and see a few photos from the Millennial Empowerment Conference.
The Advice Project is thankful to the Marie-claire N. Kuja Foundation for giving teens and youth around the world opportunities to share their stories!