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Building a strong society


 It is critical that employers pay more attention to the health and wellbeing of their employees at work and outside of work. A little bit of effort in providing support for employees can significantly improve their mental wellbeing. This is a small investment that can return massive benefits in reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. A mentally and spiritually healthy employee brings with him/her to the workplace a sunny spirit and attitude that can create a workplace environment with less negativism, less accidents on duty and significantly improved performance. It is commonly accepted that “prevention is better than cure” and this axiom is certainly true to disease prevention as it is for employee wellbeing at work. Health and wellbeing has been proven to have a direct impact on the loyalty that employees feel towards their employer. An overwhelming majority of employees who feel that their employer really cares about their health and wellbeing consider themselves as very loyal. As with most relationships, including marriages, an employer's relationship with his employee requires a sense of mutual respect and trust to be successful. Demonstrating to employees that they care about their wellbeing is a key way for employers to show staff that they are valued. This demonstration of care must go beyond the employee and the workplace to include the “whole” of the employee – which is their families.

It is with this background that the TEFON Oilfield Services Company, in association with the TESHO Foundation, developed a program to impart life skills to the TEFON ladies (wives of employees and female workers) so they can build healthy relationships in their families. This, TEFON believes will enhance family values and assist with the prevention of mental stress as well as stress-related conditions like headaches, sleep disorders, restlessness, hypertension, gastritis etc. This workshop followed an assessment by the medical doctor who carried out annual medicals on the workers. She realized that many of the workers had vital signs(BP, temperature, blood sugar etc.) within normal range but often had difficult relationships with family members (spouses and  teenage children) – a situation that often resulted in a poor state of mental health. As part of its Community Empowerment commitment, TEFON encouraged TEFON workers to invite and register their female friends, neighbors, mothers and sisters so they too could benefit from the workshop. Out of 105 ladies who were registered, 103 attended the one day workshop.


The workshop for the ladies took place on the 14th of February 2015 at Bonanjo with 103 participants and some 17 support staff and facilitators in attendance

The participants were welcomed by the GM of TEFON Oilfield Services Company and the first facilitator Dr Tina FONGOD, lecturer in the University of Buea took the floor to talk about attitudes of respect towards a husband and children.

Her presentation focused on the relationship that should exist between husband and wife. If the wife respects her husband, the children will just naturally learn to respect their dad. In a mutually satisfactory relationship between husband and wife, the wife respects her husband unconditionally and the husband loves his wife unconditionally in return. When they fail to meet each other’s need for love and respect, the relationship spins out of control into chaos with quarrelling and fighting being the result. She gave several examples of how a woman can show disrespect towards her husband for example:

  • Gossiping about him to a third party.
  • Talking about him in a derogatory way to the children.
  • Not keeping a healthy, attractive weight.
  • Not dressing attractively.
  • Doing some crazy hair-styles that he does not like especially if he had commented negatively about them to the wife’s hearing.
  • Talking to him rudely in public.
  • Ordering him in public.

She then rounded up her talk with a summary of the qualities of a respectful wife and how she can cultivate these qualities.

The next module was on the relationship between parents and their children. This module was coordinated by the TESHO Youth Coordinator (TYC),Mr Joel TAMUTAN (a youth of 29years). It started with a TESHO drama presented in French by English-speaking teens of the Celestial Echoes choir of PC Bonamoussadi. The drama kicked off with a depiction of the unhealthy situation that exists in some homes where teens and their parents do not see eye to eye. In this drama, the ZACHU family made up of Mr and Mrs Zachu and their teenage daughter and son are in full blown conflict mode. The teens dress in their “crazy” teen regalia much to the annoyance of the parents. To worsen matters, the teens laugh at their father when he ineptly tries to talk to them about sexuality and HIV prevention. When the parents eavesdrop and learn that their teens have been drinking and smoking in secret, the mother faints and they realize that they need help. They take her to the hospital and the doctor confirms their worst fears –the family is in stress mode and they needed to make some drastic behavioural changes if they did not want to have other stress-related health complications. The doctor then gives them a course in TESHO living at the end of which the kids go on their knees to apologize to their parents. That is the beginning of TESHO living for the ZACHU family. These talented youths of Celestial Echoes then added the icing on the cake by thrilling the participants with the TESHO theme song and two other songs.

The TYC came back after the drama with how youths want their parents (in this case mothers) to relate to them. His presentation which he did in French was captioned the three Cs. I will try to render a translation in this report:

Applauding actors and actresses of the TESHO drama.

A mother who has brought up balanced children Mrs MBIIMBE Mary then took the floor to talk about stages of parenting. The participants were surprised to learn that mothers should talk to their babies in a loving way right from the womb so they can create this special relationship.

In this relationship, they will be able to talk to their young kids and the kids will listen because they can recognize their mothers’ voices as the ones they used to hear when they were in the womb. In the long run, these kids will come to their mothers when they have problems. Praying positively for a child was described as a huge factor in creating a healthy relationship with children. She reiterated the fact that a mother should never challenge the father when he disciplines the child. She cautioned the mothers with these words, “Work out with your husband as a team in child upbringing”. She ended her presentation on this note: “When there is love, there is dialogue = peace = blessings = happiness = long life”.

The participants then broke up into 4 subgroups to brainstorm on the following:

Mrs MBIIMBE MARY in action

They were asked to hold on tight to their brainstorming lists while the TESHO CEO Dr FON Elizabeth gave them a 25 points run-down of the complaints their husbands had given her, collected during annual physicals and subsequent preparatory meetings prior to the present workshop. The 25 points complaint list included:

The next module was based on what husbands want from their wives in order to have a healthy relationship. The facilitator, Mr BESONG MBI dwelled on those non-sexual actions and behaviours from a wife that make the husband to feel and look great. These include:

Dr FON Elizabeth the TESHO CEO then took the floor to talk about TLC. The participants knew that TLC is the acronym for Tender Loving Care but many of them did not know what constituted TLC for an African man. Dr FON then showed them pictures of the complicated jobs their husbands have to do offshore on petroleum platforms and aboard seagoing vessels. They were reminded that even if the wives were also working, their husbands carry the mental load of taking care of three families – their immediate family, their in-laws and their family of origin. After considering all of the above, they were advised to find a place in their hearts to be sorry for their husbands so they can give them some quality TLC. This TLC comprises of:

The last module for the day to be treated by Dr FON Elizabeth was TLS. Again the participants guessed TLS is the acronym for Tender Loving Sex. At this point, all the male participants were asked to move out because it was going to be strictly between us the women. TLS treated those verbal and non-verbal actions that compose TLS for a man according to what the husbands had expressed to Dr FON as their frustrations on the sexual sphere. The wives were advised that the warm-up period is very important to prepare the outcome of the “match”. If a husband forces his wife to play the “match” without good warm-up, the result is that “il n’y aura pas match”. When the women heard this, they roared with laughter and asked the doctor to tell their husbands about warm-up when she next meets with them. The doctor however warned the women that as great and versatile wives/coaches, they have to give their husbands/team captains the right input at the right time for a successful outcome of the warm-up period and the “match” proper.

The wives were exhorted to be active participants in the “match” with their team captains/husbands.  During the period of analysis after the “match”, they were warned not to criticize their husbands’ sexual weaknesses in a mocking or negative way. This is because in a man’s mind, his sexuality and his manhood are intimately intertwined and are often one and the same thing to him. If his sexuality is criticized negatively, he will take it as a rejection of himself as a person by his wife. This may lead to unfaithfulness in a bid for the husband to prove his manhood and they may subsequently end up with HIV and/or divorce.

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