By Mafany Tande Myles Bilong
Formerly lead of Women Techmakers Buea, an alumna of the US TechWomen program, winner of the Bertelsmann Data Science Challenge Scholarship and recipient of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Award in 2018, Mpara Faith Muwar has undoubtedly made a name for herself and the Silicon Mountain community.
Mpara Faith Muwar (popularly addressed as Miss Faith by her peers and those who look up to her) hails from the North West Region of Cameroon. She is currently the co-founder and sales representative of New Generation Technologies (NGT) Ltd., a software development company that was started by her friend — Mr. Olouge Eya — and herself after their undergraduate studies. Miss Faith studied Computer Engineering at the University of Buea.
Miss Faith is a role model to both young girls and boys aspiring to take up a career in a technology related field. She has launched a wonderful initiative known as ICT4KIDS, which is the highlight of this piece.
She noticed that many people lack basic knowledge in computing and IT in general, thus she decided to implement ICT4KIDS. Apparently, knowledge about IT and computing is only reserved for those who take up courses in ICT or computer science from secondary school level.
ICT4KIDS is an initiative that aims at improving the skills of children between the ages of 5 and 18 in IT and computing, so that learners can be up-to-date about global advancements in technology as well as move forward in unison with the rest of the world. Aside from the main aim of ICT4KIDS, Miss Faith makes sure to inculcate in these young minds, the notion of global citizenship and skills in leadership. She also trains these young minds to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, so that as they grow up, they can apply these skills early enough towards the development of their country and the world at large.
Since its inception in 2018, ICT4KIDS ran throughout the summer of 2018 and saw an appreciable number of children registered for the program. Now in its second year, ICT4KIDS is a growing community of young change makers and pacesetters brewed from the brilliance and foresight of this inspirational woman.
Through this initiative, several children have been trained so far in leadership with ICT as a tool. Although being children themselves, the impact the program has on them is being felt throughout the city of Buea, Cameroon. The children who have been trained this far have organised their own training sessions with their parents and other elderly people. They replicate the training they received and are doing a great job. The elders are euphoric during these sessions and are very pleased with the marvelous job these children are doing for them.
In addition, children being the innocent, caring and loving people they are, have not only embarked on ICT training with the elderly, but have embarked on solving the ongoing Anglophone crisis. They are affected by the crisis and have put in place measures to remedy the situation. A group of children from ICT4KIDS program got together and wove some thatched items and sold them in the city of Buea. They used the proceeds realised to support NGOs and people of goodwill who are aiding those in hiding and the homeless due to the crisis — how touching.
Before the program kicked off in the previous year, it faced some obstacles. Like every other great idea, there must be something or someone, sometimes unforeseen, that will hinder its smooth takeoff. The most disturbing problem was that of a venue. A well lit and spacious venue in a location that will suit each child was lacking. Earlier on, people of goodwill were ready to provide some space but as the crisis worsened and concerns about being targets of violence caused these people of goodwill to back out of their kind gestures. That was a major problem. Fortunately, the community manager of Jongo Hub, Mr. Mokate Ashu Gabriel, was more than ready to provide some space in his hub to accommodate the children.
Furthermore, there were lack of computers to facilitate the training the children were to receive. The volunteers for the program were more than happy to give out their computers to the children for the duration of the program.
Currently, the program runs only in Buea, Cameroon, and there are mounting security threats. Many children in a single space is very risky. Kidnappers and armed robbers are lurking around and are using the ongoing Anglophone crisis as a clear path to commit their crimes. Vulnerable as the children are, they can be used as bait to threaten and steal from their parents/guardians. This poses a huge challenge for the program. The initiative has been firmly established in the city of Buea, but due to the numerous risks, the program might be put on hold in Buea and will run henceforth in other peaceful cities in Cameroon.
However, in a recent interview with some parents, they hope Mpara Faith Muwar can safely navigate around the crisis and risks so as to concurrently run the program in other cities as well as in Buea. These parents have witnessed and felt the positive impacts of the program on their children and in the city of Buea as a whole, and would not want it to end abruptly.
Seeing as the first program was a success, Miss Faith hopes to expand the program nationwide. To realise this plan, she has begun to train facilitators for the program, so that they can spread out into different cities across the nation of Cameroon and replicate the program. By doing this, the initiative will grow and be sustainable. The positive impacts and reviews will be equally scaled up.
To the children, Miss. Faith has only words of encouragement. She is proud of the children who have decided at such a young age to be change makers and pace setters. She urges all parents who for one reason or another cannot send their kids for the training to be role models to them at home.
Light for anyone in the dark. She is a source of inspiration and motivation to anyone who crosses paths with her. She definitely is a remarkable and selfless person that needs to be celebrated.