The Anglophone area of Cameroon has been experiencing what is known as Anglophone Crisis or Ambazonian War, with its militant groups in open confrontation with the Cameroonian government since 2016.
The conflict has led to numerous deaths, injuries, and displacements of people, particularly those living in the Anglophone regions.
Today, Iya Magazine shares the story of how Miss Naronate Akum Ngwa was shot in the eyes, following which she decided to turn her scars into a testimony.
Accepting the reality of living with a disfigured face was very difficult
Naronate Akum Ngwa, 25, hails from a humble family in Kulabei, Cameroon. The first of four children, her parents are traders, and they raised her to be very hardworking.
Naronate had her primary education at Government School, Ambo, North-West region of Cameroon before proceeding to Government Bilingual High School, Njifah, still in Cameroon.
Her childhood dream was to become a lawyer. So, in 2019, she got admission to study at the University of Yaoundé II-Soa but dropped out due to a crisis and bullying.
The gunshot incident
Life is so unpredictable, and some events happen unexpectedly. While Naronate was enjoying a quiet and simple life, something terrible happened to her and turned her world upside down.
“Due to the Anglophone crisis, we moved to a ghost town for safety reasons. While living there, I decided to start a small food business. So, on the 30th of July, 2018, I had finished selling the food and was resting when some guys came to buy jollof rice. I told them that there was no food, and they left.
“Some minutes later, they came back and said they couldn’t find any other restaurant. So they pleaded with me to cook for them. After preparing the meal, I took it to them. While I was waiting for my payment, one of the guys brought out a gun and shot me.
“The only thing I can remember is that I collapsed on the floor and was rushed to the hospital. After I regained consciousness, I saw my siblings crying by my side. They told me that the culprit ran away after the incident. The worst news was when I heard that my right eye was damaged beyond repair.
The worst news was when I heard that my right eye was damaged beyond repair
“I spent months in the hospital undergoing different surgeries and treatments. The bullet particles were scattered inside my head, and the doctors tried very hard to remove them.
“While I was dealing with the physical wound, I also had to deal with my emotional pain. Each time I looked at myself in the mirror, I would cry. Accepting the reality of living with a disfigured face was very difficult. So, I suffered from anxiety and depression for many years.
“I lost my self-esteem when some of my friends stopped interacting with me. I used to hide indoors so that people would not see me and call me names. Did you know that, at some point, I wished that I was dead?
“When I noticed that my mental health was deteriorating, I asked God to help me. Then, I started listening to songs and motivational speeches on self-love. Those messages helped me forgive my past and accept my present. I also learned how to ignore insensitive comments made by people who don’t know my story.
“Thankfully, I got the opportunity to relocate to Cyprus in 2021, and moving to a new environment really helped my healing process. Today, I wouldn’t say I have healed completely because every time I look in the mirror, I see the scar on my face. However, the truth is that I have become better, happier, and bolder. I am also grateful that I’m alive to share my testimony.
“I’m now an advocate for people with disabilities. Currently, I have almost a million followers on TikTok, and I use that platform to inspire other people to love themselves no matter what people say about them.”
I started listening to songs and motivational speeches on self-love. Those messages helped me forgive my past and accept my present
Crochet and braiding business
After Naronate moved to Cyprus, she started looking for job. Due to her disability, she was rejected by many companies, but she didn’t give up.
“I sent several applications and went for many interviews, but I was rejected. Some of the employers were bold enough to say, ‘Sorry, we can’t take you because your physical appearance can scare away customers.’
“I am someone who hates to depend on people for sustenance, so I started looking for things to do to earn money. I learned how to crochet clothes and braid hair, and that was how I started my own business.
“I can make beautiful designs for sweaters, blouses, and skirts using wool. I work from home and post my designs online. Since I started this business, some people have been very supportive. They patronise me and also refer their friends to me.
“I’m also passionate about makeup, and my dream is to establish a fashion and beauty empire in the future.”
Challenges are part of life, but the good news is that they come and go. Naronate is a very strong young woman who has vowed to remain positive and hopeful amid her challenges.
I experience severe headaches and doctors say some tiny bullet particles are still in my head. So, I’m saving up for another surgery
“The major challenge I’m experiencing right now is the state of my health. Sometimes, I experience severe headaches that prevent me from sleeping or doing anything else. It was confirmed that some tiny bullet particles are still in my head. So, I’m saving up for another surgery.
“Regarding my crochet business, there was a time when some customers contacted me to make a particular dress for them. Then, after investing my time and resources to crochet the dress, some of them failed to pay for it. Due to that experience, I decided that I would only offer my service after the customer had made a payment. So, I don’t get to deal with unserious people.”
Naronate relaxes by listening to good music and motivational messages. She said she enjoys listening to American singer Tatiana Manaois and looks forward to meeting her someday.
When Iya Magazine asked Naronate to advise women based on her experience, she said:
“Whenever you notice that depression is creeping into your life, get up and fight against it. Happiness is a sweet medicine for the soul.
“Therefore, learn how to be happy, irrespective of what you are going through. Always believe in yourself and be your own motivation.
“Lastly, don’t forget to work hard and be prayerful. If you can implement these tips, I’m certain that you’ll do great.”