AAFMHL, North Cameroon – Self-determination through education

Girl Power! Proud scholarship holders with their school books. Photo: © AAFMHLGirl Power! Proud scholarship holders with their school books. Photo: © AAFMHL

“If this project had already existed when I was young, it surely would have helped me, too. I would have liked to go to school longer and complete a vocational training, but I was lacking the funds. I had to marry early. Now, I am committed to supporting girls in my village, so they get a chance.”
Member of AAFMHL, mother of two

Project area: Mandara Mountains, Far North Region of Cameroon

Supported by TDF since: 2012

Target group: Girls and women of the ethnic group “Mafa”


  • About 400,000 Mafa live in the Mandara Mountains in the Far North Region.
  • Despite compulsory education, attending school is expensive, and students have to travel long distances to school. Consequently, school enrolment is mostly reserved to boys.
  • In some villages, up to 100% of girls and women are illiterate.
  • Often, girls are forcibly married off by their fathers at the age of 15, even to men of their fathers’ age.
  • As women have no claim to land, they mostly depend on men to secure their livelihoods.

Project activities:

The Association for the Support of M’lay, Huva and Ldama Girls (AAFMHL – “Association d’Appui aux Filles de M’lay, Huva et Ldama”) was founded by teachers, parents and residents of the villages M’lay, Huva and Ldama. Based on their financial situation and school performance, AAFMHL selects girls for a scholarship which not only covers their school fees, materials and basic school equipment but also supports the scholars until they will have completed their vocational training or sometimes even university.

The project Self-determination through education seeks to support girls and women in their desire for personal and economic independence by paving the way for school attendance or offering vocational trainings. Thereby, the project helps to prevent early marriage: girls who go to school are less often forced to marry at a young age. AAFMHL also seeks dialogue with parents who keep their daughters from going to school or insist on marrying them off early.


  • In 2014, TDF supported the construction of a girls’ school in Mazi where students now study farming, livestock breeding and domestic science, among others. This education provides them with income opportunities, especially in rural areas. At present, more than 70 girls and young women aged 14 – 24 are attending school, two of them are TDF scholars.
  • Annually, TDF support enables 20 – 30 Mafa girls to attend primary school, secondary school or a vocational college. TDF pays for their school fees, school uniforms, materials, clothes for gym classes, required sanitary products and in relevant cases, for their accommodation in a student residence.
  • During the last school year (2018/19), TDF covered the education costs of 16 girls from three mountain villages (two students at secondary school and 16 students at a vocational college).
  • Since 2016, 18 scholars were able to complete primary school and nine scholars successfully finished their vocational trainings as office administrators.
  • The first Mafa girl received her high school diploma in 2016. She now studies for her teacher’s degree and later wants to be a teacher in her home village.
  • In 2018, AAFMHL set up a small office with the help of TDF, to be able to manage their projects in an even better way. Once a week, they are further supported by a local professional project assistant.

Project manager: Daniel Paoulai

Contacts: Voluntary project coordinator Godula Kosack (kamerun@frauenrechte.de)
or TERRE DES FEMMES – department of International Cooperation (iz@frauenrechte.de)


Support AAFMHL with a one-time donation or contribute regularly and become a sponsor!

You can also donate to the following account, using the keyword “Cameroon” as a reference for your payment:

IBAN DE35 8309 4495 0103 1160 00