I am somewhat familiar with the African continent, having revisited so many times since 2005. The level of poverty never fails to throw me each time. The level of resilience, a word excessively used but equally necessary, never fails to inspire me.

The air was as I remembered. Earthy, somewhat balmy, the smell of burnt charcoal in amongst everything else which I found sort of comforting. A sign of life. There was little around. Life was largely extremely basic. I marvelled at women balancing everything from baskets of fruits to piles of textiles on their heads and babies on their backs. I observed the intertwine of traffic and people, still an unnerving sight.

I remembered googling Cameroon before I embarked on my mission, wondering what it was that I was here to document as anything I found was either years old or related to the soccer, which frankly I haven’t learnt to love. It appeared Cameroon was doing ok so at least their 90 year old president continues to claim.

This series examines the repercussions of conflicts during and post. It examines the lives and livelihoods obliterated during these conflicts which are occurring as we speak. Stories of survivors attempting to rebuild in the harshest of political and social climates, and amidst a climate crisis that rages across the world to have it all torn down again due to continued conflict, floods or droughts. When one is stuck in that vicious cycle and with constant provocations, it isn't as simple to get out of it as options simply aren't there. People are left with their sole resilience to live, albeit in fear and through struggles we can only imagine.

The Northwest/South West conflict which is a conflict between Anglophones and Francophones continue to instigate a great amount of fear preventing children and teachers from resuming schools. This conflict reared its head back in about 2017 and continues to this very day. We are talking about more than 50 percent of schools remaining shut. This equates to around 500,000 children who are not currently back at school because they do not have safe access to education. We are talking about children and teachers being told to strip in front of each other while gasoline was poured over them! We are talking about teachers having their limbs dismembered simply because they were employed by a state school. In fact, anyone who worked for a government-linked company of any sort were targeted, beaten, disfigured. Retaliation from government forces have been just as brutal.

Boko Haram continues to conduct horrendous attacks and displace a large part of the population up in the Extreme North of Cameroon. I have listened to women as they recounted their experiences, having had their homes burnt to the ground or who have been sexually assaulted by groups of soldiers. I have seen the fear in their eyes when they described trying to run as fast as they could with babies on their backs. I have seen the sorrow in them when they talked about loved ones they’ve lost. Those who weren’t as lucky were captured, kept in underground cages that they themselves were made to dig and offered to a soldier as an inaugural gift then placed back into the hole once the soldiers have had their fill. The elderly suffered too, their legs too feeble to carry them in their attempt to escape. Boko Haram continues to struck horror in the hearts and minds of people.

Once predictable, the weather is no longer so. People are describing events they not their grandparents have ever experienced at particular times of the year. They have seen wetlands completely dry up, green mountains turn to bare earth or so much rain that suddenly families are finding themselves risking their lives whilst remaining in a flood zone because the persistent floods have actually brought in fish stock! I think it’s easy for the climate crisis to be overlooked in countries where alternatives and options are available. Should we not be able to grow vegetables or fruits in our own backyard so to say, global sources are readily available in our supermarkets. In places where people’s very source of food, survival of livestock, water source and income are dependant on predictability of weather patterns, the climate crisis becomes grossly apparent, it’s impacts dire.

On the flip side of all of these that was very apparent as I went from one terrifying ordeal to another, was the act of human kindness. Host communities stood forth and was selfless in their attempt to aid those who were displaced. Some have done so for years on end. For communities such as these, food source and supply is already a problem for the existing population, let alone trying to keep more bellies full. The government offers little to no assistance whatsoever. People are left to their own accord and to the goodwill of others who could so easily have turned them away. However everyone has lost someone here in this part of the world.

In many countries in this part of the world and I’m sure where war and conflict are concerned in other parts of the world, there is death, displacement, assaults of all kinds and then having to live through memories of it all. I am uncertain of the motivation. I am assuming it to be a horrific way of instilling fear and subsequent control of a large population. The stories I have learnt disgusts me to the very core, yet they are used as weapons. Girls, women - young and old. Women are often left to hold up the world, their world and those around them. The ones I have met have gone through an ordeal that lot many of us would survive from. They have. They will.

However this should not be happening and hidden from the rest of the world. This just should not be happening at all.