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Cameroon: Franca Ma-Ih Sulem Yong, the art therapist committed to survivors of conflict in Africa

Franca Ma-Ih Sulem Yong, a Cameroonian art therapist, has dedicated herself for years to heal traumatised survivors of conflicts in Africa through art. She is the founder of two peace education initiatives, « Afrogiveness Movement » and « Positive Youths Africa ». In 2022, she won the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the promotion of tolerance and non-violence.

Franca Ma-Ih Sulem Yong is committed to promoting peace through art. Coming from Cameroon, a country which has known internal conflicts in recent years, this art therapist and mental health specialist has worked for years to promote tolerance, forgiveness, empathy…as keys to sustainable peace, after working for 7 years as a journalist.

In 2018, while her country was experiencing interfaith and cultural conflicts, she founded Afrogiveness, a combination of Africa and Forgiveness. Its mission is to enable the survivors of these conflicts to heal from trauma through forgiveness and art. She then created the Afrogiveness Psychosocial Centre, which welcomes survivors from opposite sides of interfaith and cultural conflicts to heal from their trauma, connect with each other…

To date, the centre has welcomed 1,500 survivors of interfaith and cultural conflicts, including Muslims and Christians in the Boko Haram conflict, Anglophone and Francophone survivors in the conflict in the Anglophone areas of Cameroon, refugees from 8 countries who have fled conflicts in Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Niger, Mali, Togo, Somalia, Nigeria. Within the NGO, the survivors are introduced to various arts, including singing through the Afrogiveness choir, painting & drawing, as part of the “art4tolerance” project, storytelling… The initiative also offers university scholarships to young survivors…

The Cameroonian is also the founder of « Positive Youths Africa », a development initiative that works on youth empowerment, peace building, sexual and mental health, education and more.

In 2022, she was awarded the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize, which promotes tolerance and non-violence, a reward given to the scientific, artistic and cultural institutions working in favor of peace, tolerance and non violence.