Starting a new life in Nigeria
Starting over in a new country can be difficult. Some refugees not only lose their homes and communities, but their jobs, financial standing, and sense of purpose. Louise Tchuntang Eyong, 36, was living in Kumba, South-West province in Cameroon with her children, Austin Enow Eyong, 18, and foster daughter Imelda Okanda, 20, when the Ambazonia war, often referred to as the crisis in Cameroon, forced the family to flee to Nigeria. They lost all they had and needed support to start a new life.
Louise’s circumstance is not uncommon, as the crisis has forced thousands of Cameroonians to leave their homes and country, seeking safety in neighbouring Nigeria. Cameroonian refugee settlement populations are growing. There are often little to no jobs or alternative means of income available. People are living with little food, and poor access to portable water and health care facilities.
“Nigeria was a strange country where we knew no one,” she says. “Food, rent, schooling and survival were big challenges.”
Things changed for Louise when she was introduced to Cuso International’s SKILLS project, a project that helps refugees regain their independence and live a dignified life with an improved standard of living. Since 2019, Cuso International has been partnering with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), providing training and business starter packs to help refugees establish sustainable, self-reliant businesses or employment.
Now, life is better for Louise and challenges she faced when first coming to Nigeria “are a thing of the past,” she says. Without the support from SKILLS, Louise said finding a job would have been difficult, but through the program she was supported and now has two provision shops that sell everyday products such as milk, sweets, biscuits, and toothpaste.
She is saving money, taking care of her children, and paying all her bills without difficulty. Louise’s son is currently attending university and her foster daughter is in her final year in secondary school.
“The project is very important. Many of us would have suffered if not for this project. For me, I can now take care of my family,” says Louise. “Thanks to SKILLS we have been able to start fresh. Life is much easier now.”