YES Programs



YES Alumni Grant: Let’s Talk Gender-Based Violence

Women sit in chairs and two other women braid their hair

By Yasmine Hawa (YES 2018-2019, Cameroon, placed with AFS-USA in Thiensville, WI)

During my exchange year in Wisconsin, I was truly impressed with the volunteer spirit of my classmates, host family, and the local community. When I returned home in 2019, the work of the alumni community in Cameroon was a great motivation for me. So I kicked off my adventure as an alumna in September 2019, and I’ve been enjoying doing community projects ever since.

Four people in a classroom look at papers on a desk

After successfully implementing a 2020 YES Alumni Grant project called Tech4Girls, I decided to continue working to empower women and girls in my community. I applied for and was awarded a 2021 YES Alumni Grant to organize a workshop on gender-based violence (GBV). Many people, especially women, experience violence but don’t know that this type of violence has a name, is punishable by law, and that organizations and structures attempting to eradicate GBV exist.

The workshop, held from August 23 to 31 in Ngaoundere, included both traditional training sessions as well as self-defense classes and a campaign in which participants gained immediate experience in spreading awareness about GBV through a radio broadcast. The 30 participants included both males and females of diverse ages and from diverse backgrounds.

Participants learn self defense skills

My biggest takeaway from this project is that the people you least expect to bring about change are the people who WILL bring change. Most of the participants had never heard about GBV before workshops, but by the end of the training, participants were able to effectively share the knowledge acquired during the training during the awareness campaign. 

A big thanks to all those who helped make this project possible, including the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the YES program, and my fellow alumni.