Leaders of Change
Cama, the alumnae association for Camfed graduates, is the largest network of its kind in Africa - and spurring remarkable change as young women from rural communities use their education to benefit others.
Cama was founded by a group of Camfed bursary students who asked 'What next?'
Cama emerged in 1998 thanks to a group of 400 former Camfed bursary students who - along with Camfed - asked themselves 'What next?' after they graduated from school. They looked at international examples of institutions that establish powerful alumni networks and decided they could do the same. This association of educated young women, brought together by a common background of acute poverty and a belief in the power of education, is now making enormous strides in local communities - and on the international stage.
A powerful network
Cama is a unique network of educated young women.
It operates in four African countries (a fifth, Malawi, will welcome its first Cama members in 2013). The organisation has its own local and national chapters, and organises regular country exchanges between members.
Cama members are offered training in areas like healthcare, financial literacy and teaching, and in turn provide a range of services to their local communities in which they train others to understand issues like HIV and AIDS, or to manage finances.
Cama members also work as volunteers for Camfed by monitoring programs to ensure girls receive their bursary entitlements and recording data like school attendance and performance. Using mobile and other technology to gather the data, these young women thus gain status in communities.
Invest in one girl and many more reap the benefits.
Cama members exemplify the belief that educating one girl can create a positive reaction in a community and help break the cycle of poverty. Through their earnings, Cama members are investing in the education of a new generation of children: each supporting the education of an average of 2 to 3 children not related to them. By the end of 2011, Cama had galvanised community action to support more than 220,000 vulnerable and hard‐to‐reach children to attend school.
The network exemplifies the spirit of 'giving back' that is a common feature among the young women with whom we work. Many aspire to become doctors or nurses, teachers or lawyers, or work as community activists because they want to 'give back' to the communities who supported their own education, and help future generations.
The global stage
Cama members speak to an international audience.
Young women from rural communities have personally experienced many of the world’s biggest challenges including food insecurity, unemployment, power shortages, HIV, malaria, and human rights abuses. That personal knowledge and understanding is a powerful basis on which to engage with the world’s decision‐makers in the search for global solutions.
Camfed works to support young women to build their confidence and advocacy skills and to identify opportunities for them to engage with policymakers at the national and international level. Cama members have recently spoken on global platforms including President Obama’s Future of Africa Forum.