Cameroon: Face masks sewing in progress to fight coronavirus!

During the coronavirus pandemic, the health of our children and their families as well as the one of our on-site staff is our priority. As you know, the centers of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) have been closed since March 18 to reduce the spread of the virus. Now, we are focusing our efforts on making and distributing washable face masks which are commonly called mufflers in Cameroon. 

Last week, we asked Abaa, the Manager of the Zoétélé Centre to find seamstresses. Two seamstresses quickly settled in the center and started working. Meanwhile we asked our generous donor, Carole if we could use the money she raised through her Facebook birthday fundraiser to buy fabric and pay the two seamstresses for the creation of 286 washable and reusable masks.

As the Zoétélé Centre has been transformed in a place for making face masks, it is disinfected with bleach at the entrance and exit of the two seamstresses. Merlin, our driver will be responsible for shipping the masks to the SBA centres of Jardin Eden and Bafia. As for the Eau Claire Center in Bangangté, we are in discussion with a foundation who is supposed to offer us the required face masks.

Sewers in Zoétélé

Our success stories: Since Merlin has been the driver of the Serge Betsen Academy, his life has been easier.

Merlin who is called “Colonel VIP Prestige” is the “official driver” of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA). Since 2015, Merlin has been in charge of all our journeys and responsible for the SBA logistics (reception of orders from the seemstresses, sending of parcels of material to all the centers, …). Merlin who is the father of 4 children is grateful to SBA for having transformed his daily life and improving the future of his children:

« The SBA is welcomed in my life, because it has changed everything. I am not struggling to earn money any longer. Before knowing the SBA, I used to leave home every morning at 6am and to be often back at 10pm. Now, as I work for SBA, I sometimes start at 8pm and may be back at 7pm. Obviously it’s still work because I sometimes drive 10 hours from Yaoundé to Bangangté, and it is profitable for me. And my children have lots of memories of the SBA like clothes, tutoring sessions and also other relationships. Because through the SBA, I have met some people that I did not know before.

With the SBA in my life, I am really feeling releived. »

Our success stories: Christelle, volunteer at the SBA Centre of Jardin Eden

Christelle uses her painting skills to stimulate creativity in children and brighten up the centre. Amongst other things, she painted a beautiful mural in the centre and produced paintings on paper and on espadrilles, which were sold for the benefit of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA).

“My name is Christelle Gaëlle Domo Bimoga. I have been a volunteer for the past 5 years at the SBA Centre of Jardin Eden.

I would like to thank the whole SBA team, the partners, the donors, the sponsors. Thanks to their collaboration and Serge’s love for children in need, we, the staff can better help the children attending our centres.

I would like to especially thank Serge and Odile for all the help they have given me, including funding my law studies. I can now proudly say I am a law graduate.

Aside from educational support and painting classes, my role at the SBA includes teaching children basic notions of life. I sometimes also provide snacks and every now and then the old students come to give a hand under the coordination of the director Lala Nadege Noa.”

Cameroon: Growing income for SBA Coop’s women and their families!

Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) is proud of the women from rural communities at its SBACoop who have grown their income and now achieve improved welfare for their families by covering their school fees and medical expenses, without needing contributions from their husbands. Financial independence for women is on the rise!

Our farming cooperative has now been running for three years, with mothers from the centre in Bangangté. As they do not own the land they work and have not had the opportunity to go to school, women at the SBA Coop are vulnerable. They can’t get loans, they have no security of tenure for the land where they run their farming activity; goods they can lose at any time. To tackle this, we have launched a new project to support the mothers of children at our centre, to support them in reaching financial independence.

Every year in April, SBA provides seeds for bean and corn at cost. Each woman commits to paying back the seeds by the end of January the following year, subject to her ability to work the plot of land she has access to and which has been often allocated by their husbands. Harvests take place twice a year for beans and once for corn. 25% of the yield goes to SBA to feed children at the centre and 75% is for the mothers to sell at the town’s markets. They participate in the local economy and they generate their own revenues. This makes them less vulnerable to financial hardship.

Women of SBACoop Meeting of SBACoop

Thanks to the Coop, mothers of SBA children become more responsible and collectively engaged. There is healthy competition amongst them, which helps bring tangible results.
– The women have repaid all the costs either in the same year or the following year. SBA’s investment was €820 in the first year (2017), €1,120 in 2018 and €1,050 in 2019. In 2020, they have asked for €2,165 in advances.
– The 75% share of harvests they retain has allowed the SBAs mums to become financially independent from the first year. They have not needed to ask for financial help from their husbands or families since then. They are able to cover school fees, medical expenses, investments to grow their business including renting a bigger plot of land.
– This project has sustained over 2,000 meals for SBA children in 2018 and 2019.
– Given these successes, we plan to continue with the project and to invest at least €1,500 each year, to provide even more meals in our centres and support even more women towards financial independence.

The project started in 2017 with 11 mothers. There are now 17 who are members of the Coop. We congratulate and encourage them!

Cameroon: The infirmary of the Eau Claire Center has been stocked up on medicines to help those who are sick!

Thanks to the generous donation of pharmacist Martial who works at La Nouvelle Dignité pharmacy in Bangangté, we were able to stock up the pharmacy at the Eau Claire centre. We think it is an important measure to face a potential difficult time because of the spread of the coronavirus.

Djibril, the Head of the Eau Claire Center went to La Nouvelle Dignité pharmacy and explained to the young pharmacist how we are helping underprivileged children of our center but also their families notably by offering them a free access to basic healthcare. Martial was moved by our actions and donated 2500FCA worth of over-the-counter drugs to us and asserted he will try to donate more in the future. We would like to thank him warmly on behalf of SBA.

As recently announced, we have closed all our centers to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, we have decided to keep the infirmary of the Eau Claire Center open during the week as its premises were built separately from the center. The nurse of the center can therefore receive patients, however patients are of course asked to limit contact with one another and to increase the distances each of them. A gap of at least 1.5 meter must imperatively be respected by patients waiting care. A poster will be hung up on the door of the infirmary explaining these measures.

Please take care of yourself!