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Cameroon: a teenager’s life in jail

© UNICEF/Cameroon/2009/Zulfiqar
Stephane has been in jail for drug abuse since July 2008

On November 20th, we celebrate anniversary of the Convention on the rights of the child. This portrait is part of a series that shows progress and challenges in advancing children’s rights in a region where some of the lowest human development indicators in the world are found.

Yaounde, Cameroon, 4 November 2009 – Hi, I’m Stephane and I’m 17 years old. I’ve been in Yaounde Central Jail since July 2008.

I was done for carrying cannabis and was caught by the police. I was addicted to it. 

I don’t know when I’m going to get out of this place as my case has been postponed, but I hope it’s soon.

I’ve been talking to the social worker here and he’s helped me get a lawyer who advises me.

It’s good to know we can talk to him about all of our concerns here. He helps us with any questions we have and also makes sure we have what we need.

For example if I need a change of clothes or shoes he will help me get them. 

I’m the eldest in my family, but I don’t get to see my family often. They visit me once every six months and I miss them. Life in jail is simple.

I wake up at 6 am and we have to help clean the place and then we attend classes to learn French, English and Maths.

It’s good because they also teach us some skills here like how to be an electrician or a tailor.

But I miss the school where I was studying. Sometimes we have special events like music concerts where we sing religious songs.

When I get out of jail I’m going to stay away from the friends I had before and I’ll go back to school because I want to be better educated.

I love football and my ambition is to be a professional footballer.

By Salma Zulfiqar






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