"We Want to Develop the Art of Listening"

An interview with Ngo Etame Odette, a Co-Counselor in Yaoundé, Cameroon, that appeared in Le Papyrus Magazine, January-February 1998:

In our societies, where individualism takes precedence over solidarity, citizens living on the same earth are increasingly turning their backs on solidarity. The risk of our countries becoming "republics of silence" is big. In order to avoid the breakdown of communication between different social groups, the non-governmental organization No Limits for Women got started. Its national president, Madame Odette Etame, explains here the functioning of this project and outlines its activities.

Papyrus: Madame President, what is the No Limits for Women Project?

Odette: The No Limits for Women Project is a non-governmental organization (NGO) created in 1995. The purpose of this NGO is to develop the art of listening, or Co-Counseling, among the Cameroonian people. The technique consists of allowing the speaker to talk without interruption, comments, or suggestions. The point is to lead the talker, through listening attention, to express freely her/his feelings, thoughts, joys, and sorrows. This method is aimed at becoming more in charge of one's life. We want to help the Cameroonian people to develop their capacity to listen to each other. It's easy to see that the absence of this quality creates problems in our society, from a simple marital quarrel to horrible civil wars. These would certainly not happen if people took the trouble to listen and to let each other talk.

Papyrus: What statement can you make about your activities in the Cameroon at present?

Odette: Our plan is positive. We have already formed many groups of a cross-section of the population: elders, children, adolescents, refugees. We regularly organize educational seminars, workshops, conferences, and debates through which we teach people the art of listening and show them the advantages of establishing essential communication based on listening. We already have a substantial membership.

Papyrus: You recently returned from a trip to the U.S. What was the purpose of this trip, and what were the results?

Odette: The purpose of the trip was to give an account of our activities to the general assembly which included all the countries where the No Limits for Women Project is located . . . . We were encouraged to work more closely with the media to enhance our effectiveness.

Papyrus: What projects are currently underway, and what can one expect from them?

Odette: We are more and more spreading the art of listening into this country, establishing new support groups according to the needs of specific groups (women, men, disabled people, refugees, street children), and reinforcing the collaboration with the media to increase publicity and raise awareness.

Papyrus: What are the major problems you encounter?

Odette: Our problems are mainly financial. We function solely on subscriptions of our members. This considerably limits our actions. We are sending an appeal to everyone who is willing and wants to meet us. We are located at PMI Briqueterie à Yaoundé.

Translated by Ellie Putnam

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00