19.06.13 | News, BMDZ

„Our goal is to build up self-respect”

Interview with Beatrice Ngeh, Head of the “Christian Women´s Fellowship” in Cameroon

Beatrice Ngeh leitet seit 2005 die Frauenarbeit "Christian Women´s Fellowship". (Foto: EMS/Waltz)

The Presbyterian Church in Cameroon (PCC) was founded by the Basel missionaries in 1886. Since 2005 Beatrice Ngeh is the head of the church´s women´s work, the "Christian Women´s Fellowship". It is a significant part of the congregation´s daily life. In the interview she speaks about her origin and explains why it is so important for Cameroon women to build up self-esteem.

The "Christian Women´s Fellowship" has over 50.000 members. Why is it so important for the women to be part of this group?

For Cameroon women it is essential to be independent from their husbands. Many of the men lose their jobs and their children´s education does not have the highest priority for them. If a woman has to beg her husband for money all the time, she will lose her self-esteem. She must do what he wants her to do. Our goal is to build up the women´s self-respect. They are not at the mercy of their husbands anymore and they can develop their own voice. Others take them more seriously and they are able to stand up for themselves and their families. If we want our society to be happy we need to teach the women how to create an income, create their own worth.

What do you teach the members of your groups?

They get to know the basic information about hygiene and good health. At the same time we are offering a forum to grow spiritually and teach them how to run a business, for example as hair dressers or market-women. We also have a literacy program for those who don´t know how to read and write yet. In this way they are able to pay for clothing, feeding and medical treatment by themselves.

How do the women find their way to the fellowship?

We are singing in the streets, meeting people. But we are not actively seeking for new members. All Christian women are invited to join our group. If you like us and what we believe and do, we welcome you. Each woman has a different story and her own struggles to deal with. With the help of CWF she can start working together with her husband, to improve their living conditions and often bring peace to her family.

The CWF members have several uniforms for different occasions. What do they stand for?

Our clothes show different colors and there is a meaning behind each of them: Blue stands for peace which is one of the main concerns in Africa. Yellow indicates change, for instance changing your own ideas and starting to believe in God. The third color is white - it means purity. There is also another uniform: Its fabric is mostly blue with palm trees on it. The palm tree is a very important symbol for us. It sways with the wind, but it always comes back to its upright position. We are wearing this uniform to do our daily work, like cleaning the market and working at the hospital.

When did you become interested in the "Christian Women´s Fellowship"?

My father was born in 1918. One day he got injured and his leg was supposed to be amputated. In the night before the amputation he sent his prayers to God. The next morning a white doctor came and brought some medicine for him. Fortunately the leg did not have to be amputated anymore. This was the moment when he decided to become a worker for God. All of us children were raised in a Christian household. After my marriage, the challenges of life started. My husband and I don´t have children which is a difficult situation to deal with in a country like Cameroon. I joined the CWF and I found my peace of mind there. Without the group, my life would not be the same. I would have been broken by the pressures of the society. Instead, I was strengthened to tackle life.

Further information about the "Christian Women´s Fellowship" you will find in the latest BMDZ newsletter.

The interview was conducted by Kristina Pohle.