Hope International for Tikar People (HITIP) is a non-profit, community-based organization that provides support to improve the quality of life for marginalized indigenous Tikar and Pygmy people in Cameroon. HITIP collaborates with local communities to implement sustainable health and education projects to meet the needs of at-risk individuals.
"I know people who are wasting lot of resources and money every day... And I know people who need that help. I've seen the kids who need books and toys to be happy... How can I go to sleep without doing anything?! I don't want to make people feel guilty, I just want to connect the two worlds".—Issa Nypahaga, Founder of HITIP
Hope International for Tikar People was founded in 2002 in direct response to the needs of community members with immediate and critical health care needs. After meeting Ibrahim, a young survivor of polio who needed a custom bicycle wheelchair, Issa Nyaphaga decided to take action.
Issa returned to France where he was a social worker in a suburb west of Paris working with community-based art projects. He brought photos of Ibrahim and shared Ibrahim’s story with his students. As a community organizer, he realized that he alone could not solve this problem. Issa wanted to share Ibrahim’s story with his own art groups so they could learn more about the challenges facing the Tikar people and get involved. In the beginning, the majority of people who wanted to get involved and help Ibrahim were the school children. The children were interested in making a difference and they shared the information with their parents.
By partnering with communities and non-profit organizations in Cameroon, the United States and France, HITIP was able to raise the funds to provide two new wheelchairs---one for Ibrahim and one for a young woman named Alima. Now, Ibrahim didn’t have to be taken everywhere by his brother in a market cart. He didn’t have to rely on anyone other than himself to make the 3km trip to school every morning. His brother is also enjoying a newfound sense of independence and self-reliance.
This first success inspired a series of other projects for marginalized Tikar and Pygmy populations. Since 2002, HITIP has provided medicine, emergency medical supplies, shoes, books, school supplies, school bags, clothes and toys to seven villages in the Tikar region. All of these supplies were recycled and HITIP only had to cover the cost of shipping and transporting them.
HITIP also provided recycled cameras and tape recorders to Tikar schoolchildren so that they could ask villagers about their most pressing needs and the challenges that they face. Villagers were deeply engaged in these interviews and they were eager to share their perspectives and ideas on ways to improve their own communities.
Statement of Need
The challenges facing the Tikar and Pygmy people are many and wide-ranging. Infant mortality rates are high, life expectancy is 65 years, vaccination and HIV testing rates are low, and access to affordable health care is non-existent. Many people still suffer from preventable and treatable diseases such as polio, leprosy, TB, malaria, and yellow fever. People have no electricity or running water. The illiteracy rate is 70% and is even higher for women. Most children don’t attend school past the sixth grade because they need to work to help support their families or they leave the village in search of an elusive higher standard of living. Environmental degradation and deforestation are rampant and companies are extracting natural resources without creating much-needed infrastructure or providing support for local villages. The absence of governmental support is striking and employment opportunities are scarce.
Although the challenges in the region are many, there is also an abundance of human potential and ability. These villages are self-sustaining and the villagers hold the solutions to their most-pressing challenges. However, technical support and training are needed to help them realize their full potential.
Tribe: Indigenous Tikar and Bedzan Pygmy
Authorities: Village chiefs
Region: Equatorial rainforest of Central Africa
Area: 5,000 square miles
Number of villages: 30
Industry: Sustainable agriculture and animal husbandry
Major Crops: Coffee, cacao, corn, bananas, yams, red pepper
Local Cooperatives: 0
Languages spoken: Tikar, French, Pidgin English
Religions: Animism, Christianity, Islam
Culture: Music, dance, spiritual and ritual performances and celebrations, masks, costumes, traditional architecture
Transportation: On foot, bicycle, motorcycle, bush taxi
Goals and Objectives
HITIP’s goals and objectives were established in direct response to the needs, concerns, values, priorities and ideas expressed by villagers in the Tikar region. This initial needs assessment was conducted, in part, by local schoolchildren who wanted to help improve their communities.
Build bridges between diverse communities and organizations around the world by engaging them in collaborative, sustainable projects that address health, education, and agriculture in the Tikar region.
Deliver high quality medical equipment and supplies to individuals with disabilities while providing on-going trainings and technical support to encourage increased self-reliance and economic independence.
Establish school libraries in villages that serve as community centers where children and their families can have access books and other learning materials.
Provide emergency and preventive medical supplies to local communities in addition to technical support and training for local health care promoters and outreach workers.
Engage the local community and combat poverty through capacity-building workshops that provide educational opportunities, offer technical support, and strengthen leadership qualities.
Implement renewable energy programs that address the lack of electricity necessary for effective and sustainable health and education projects.