CRRI team meets with trainees who proved to be very diligent in their work at Glass Work (Alumaco) workshop in Calabar
Tailoring trainer at Takum explaining to CRRI Field Coordinator how she manages the shortage of material while training the refugees
By Danjuma Munkfu Bongi
The Community Refugee Relief Initiative, CRRI, has empowered thousands of Southern Cameroonians who have fled from the on-going war in the Anglophone Regions of the Northwest and Southwest.
For Southern Cameroonians, who fled the bloody violence into Nigeria, life has been thorny for the past five years. Tens of thousands of them living in camps, refuge sites or communities, have been surviving through food rations from humanitarian organisations. Some have either tumbled into prostitution or cheap labour to feed their families.
However, many of them are now on the path to sustainable livelihoods, thanks to the intervention of the CRRI. The organisation is equipping hundreds of them with vocational and professional skills. After their training, graduates will benefit from job placements, and work experience in centres set up by CCRI in selected areas in Nigeria.
The livelihood programmes, which kicked off in 2019, are taking place in six selected locations. Over 204 men and women have completed the training and graduated in April 2021, while more trainees are looking forward to graduate by 2022.
A CRRI statement says: “The graduated trainees are now waiting to be placed in CRRI-owned well-equipped workshops, where they will exercise and improve on their acquired vocational skills, while paving a way for their individual livelihoods”.
The graduates are now waiting to be placed in well-equipped workshops operated by CRRI. There, they will practise and improve on their acquired vocational skills as they prepare for their individual livelihoods”.
In 2019, the CRRI carried out needs assessment missions in several localities where refugees expressed their needs and desires. Upon that assessment, CRRI launched the CRRI-RELIRP Training Project. Thanks to this move, the refugees have been trained in wide-ranging trades: Tailoring and Catering, Hairdressing, Carpentry, Furniture, Glasswork, Car Repairs (general mechanics, motorcycle repair), general computing (ICT) in five (05) Local Government Areas (Ikom-Cross River, Calabar-Cross River, Ogoja-Cross River, Takum-Taraba State, Baissa-Kurmi LGA Taraba State, and Abong-Kurmi LGA Taraba) and an additional 100 youths (90 refugees and 10 host community youths) in Ogoja on advanced ICT skills (hardware, networking, advanced ICT skills for freelancing, computer programming, web designing, digital marketing, computer networking, computer maintenance, graphics design and video editing).
In Ogoja Local Government Area in Cross River State, all these 72 trainees graduated last April in the presence of the CRRI Board Chairman. At Ikom, the one-year training for 40 refugees focused on five different vocational skills: Hairdressing, Tailoring, Carpentry/Furniture, and Glass Work (Alumaco).
In Calabar, 53 refugees have been trained in six different vocational skills, including Auto Mechanics, Hairdressing Barbing, Glass Works (Alumaco), Furniture/Carpentry and ICT. Meanwhile, each of the vocational skills training includes one beneficiary from the host community – a move to help reinforce integration.
Last year, a group of 16 Southern Cameroonian refugee ladies were trained and empowered by CRRI in catering and pastries. Some 38 refugees from the Calabar-based CRRI vocational training centers have graduated from hairdressing, Tailoring, and ICT, while those for auto mechanics and glass works are continuing with their training.
It is the same story in other areas where refuges are awaiting graduation or are undergoing training in fields like welding, computer, motorcycle mechanics, furniture and others.