By Fru Rita Ngum
The Christian Blind Mission (CBM) Country Representative, Julius Niba Fon has described the Group for Rehabilitation and Inclusive Development (GRID) Network as a group that has been resilient and spontaneous to ameliorate services for the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities for the past few years. Mr. Fon was speaking on December 16, 2021 at the Baptist Center Nkwen, Bamenda during an official launching of the second phase of the GRID network. As the guest speaker during the launching, Mr. Fon exposed all present to the understanding of GRID Network. He noted that networks are Communities of Practice (CoP) which is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do better as they interact regularly. He emphasized that members of CoP are practitioners who develop a shared repertoire of resources, experiences, stories, tools, and ways of addressing recurring problems. He charged members to be mindful of the domain of their practice that is characterized by worldwide interest adding that mediocrity has no place in the community of practice.
The CBM Country Representative applauded the CBC Health Services for its commitment in coordinating the GRID network initiative which has attracted support from AUSAID. He hopes that the CoP will be of high standard both nationally and internationally. Speaking at the launching, the SEEPD Program Manager, Awa Jacques Chirac gave a background of GRID. He said at the time when discussions around Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) was going on, the CBC Health Services had to reflect on what Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) means in the context of the Northwest Region during which the concept of creating CoP were given birth. He added that at that time, they learned from CBM that most organizations focusing on development were creating communities focusing on different areas of specialty as a strategy that could harness learnings that emerged from experience that could foster their work. It is against this backdrop, he added, that the SEEPD Program of the CBCHS decided to start the GRID initiative even though without any experience but had support from one of its partners from the University of Toronto. Organizations that are more experienced and less experienced were brought on the lamplight to reflect and share ideas on inclusion. It was a concept that was received with a lot of mixed feelings as there were tensions sometimes given that some members thought it had financial benefits which was not the case but afterwards, they embraced and loved the vision. The Program Manager highlighted the successes of the first phase such as collective writing and publishing of articles on topical issues, working with the Ministry of Health to design a program on mental health amongst others.
At the end of the phase, an evaluation was done after which CBM impressed with the result funded the second phase of the imitative. Sharing his experiences, the former and pioneer Coordinator of GRID, Dr. Louis Mbibeh noted that the project achieved a lot which influenced actions on inclusion within the CBC Health Services and nationally. He said gone are those days when organizations used to protect their experiences and prerogatives adding that this is a new era where people are open to sharing learnings. Handing over to the new Coordinator, Mr. Chifon Godlove Ngek , the outgoing Coordinator, Dr. Mbibeh charged new members of the different groups to work in collaboration with the new Coordinator and to be open to learning and sharing.
One of the members who were in the Community Based Rehabilitation group, Jato Colince expressed appreciation for the opportunity of belonging in the first phase of the project during which he learned that collective ideas from professionals are vital to foster inclusive development. Representing the CBC Health Services Director, the Chief of Administration and Finance (CAF), Mr. Warri Denis commended CBM for always supporting the initiatives of the CBC Health Services in fostering development. He congratulated the members for the successes achieved in the previous phase while reminding them to be more committed because much work is on the ground to be done in the new phase. The launching brought together new and some old members from the different thematic groups who had the opportunity to know their group members and select their group leader. It should be noted that GRID is made up of 8 thematic groups; Community Mental Health, Media Disability and Inclusive Development, Community Based Inclusive Development, Gender and Inclusive Development, Vision and Inclusive Care, Clubfoot Care, Disability Humanitarian Action, Ear and Hearing Care. These groups have a general objective to create and sustain CoPs for rehabilitation and disability inclusive development in the NWR of Cameroon in order to improve quality of life for persons with disabilities and sustain hope for a more equitable society. The SEEPD Program acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).