Cameroon: Boxes of various equipment have arrived in our centres and are making our young people happy!

In every one of our centres in Cameroon, numerous boxes were received at the end of June and unwrapped with excitement. Their content was distributed to our young people who will now be well equipped. We would like to thank all the donors for their generosity, including Lionel Quenardel and the students of Diderot College in Massy for having so carefully sorted the equipment and packed the boxes with care.

The students from the Diderot College worked really hard and after several dozen hours (sorting, washing, packing, packaging, weighing, etc.) nearly half a ton (38 packages) of equipment left the college at the end of May.

Cartons emballés par le collège Diderot de Massy

 

These boxes contained sneakers, ruby boots, studs, rugby jerseys, rugby protections (helmets, shin guards, shoulder pads, base layers), other rugby equipment (KWay rain jackets, tracksuits, etc.) but also T-shirts and other everyday clothing, French learning books and soft toys. After a long trip, they have now been distributed to our young people in Cameroon.

Cartons de matériel  Carton de crampons

Maillots rugby Maillots rugby

Maillots rugby Chaussures

Les jeunes avec les casques de rugby  Livres pour les enfants

T-Shirts donnés Jeunes avec les T-Shirts

Enfants qui jouent au rugby en baskets Enfants qui jouent au rugby en baskets

Enfants qui jouent au rugby en baskets  Enfants qui jouent au rugby en baskets

Cartons de matériel Cartons de matériel 

Djibril et les enfants Groupe d'enfants équipés 

These pictures may seem quite normal, especially those taken on our sports fields, but one should keep in mind that children normally play rugby in street clothes and in flip-flops or even barefooted. The fact that thanks to you all they have the right shoes, jerseys and can play protected is just a huge pleasure for us, and even more so for them!

The Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) is lucky to count on volunteers and committed donors in order to improve the daily life of our young people. We cannot name you all, but please know that without you, the SBA could not go on with its mission. THANK YOU!

 

Translation: Katy Birge-Wilson

 

Cameroon: A pleasant meeting between Ms. Marthe Félicité Zintchem, Mayor of the municipality of #Bafia and our Secretary General, Odile Prévot

On 5 July, Mrs. Marthe Félicité Zintchem, Mayor of the municipality of Bafia had a meeting with our CEO, Odile Prévot, in her offices. Both are committed to supporting young people. Thank you, Madam Mayor, for having met up with Odile Prevot and for having been attentive to the actions of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA).

“First lady Mayor of Bafia, lawyer and woman of action, the children of the SBA centre in Bafia will be delighted with your visit!”

We would like to thank the Bafia Town Hall team for having published the following text following Odile’s visit:

 

“A distinguished guest with the Mayor.

The Mayor of the municipality of #Bafia, Marthe Félicité Zintchem in Bodio, has just had a one to one meeting with the CEO of the Serge Betsen Academy association, who paid her a courtesy visit. In this context, Mrs. Odile Prévot explained to her lawyer colleague the purpose of her visit to the town hall today. In fact, Mrs. Odile Prévot came to present to her learned colleague the Abraham and Sarah Centre of the Serge Betsen Academy, located next to the “Lycée Classique et Moderne de Bafia”. This centre was created in 2004 and takes care of young people aged from 11 to 20 years old. This year, more young girls than boys are to benefit from the centre, placed under the local supervision of Mister Jean Cyrille Monthe. The centre provides academic support, medical aid through the infirmary which the students attend on Saturdays and sporting support through several sporting activities including rugby, a discipline in which the promoter, Serge Betsen, played at the highest level until becoming world champion. The centre currently has 65 children and 150 are knocking on its doors. Mrs. Odile Prévot plans to implement the project of producing washable sanitary napkins for the benefit of the young girls of this centre, most of whom are destitute, on condition that this project produces results in Bangante where it is currently under experiment. If this project gets off to a good start, the idea is that 75% of the profits go to the girls for their wheat 75%, and 25% go to the centre for its operating costs.

The Mayor expressed her full approval of this project which contributes to the development of local youth while giving a real chance to the children of the underprivileged. This project captures her attention even more so, as above all it integrates the young people who are the fundamental axis of Marthe Félicité Zintchem’s actions in Bodio, in her capacity as first magistrate of the city of #Bafia. She will then have the opportunity to visit, with eagerness, the buildings of this centre. And it was on a note of mutual appreciation that the two robed women parted ways, not without wishing each other resounding success in the conduct of their respective duties. ”

 

Translation: Katy Birge-Wilson

Cameroon: Thanks to the ATF Group our centres are now equipped with new computers.

New computers, donated by the ATF Group, have arrived in Cameroon. Odile, our CEO, organised for them to travel with her from France at the beginning of July and ensures that they are properly installed during her tour of the centres.

Thanks to this great donation from the ATF Group, we were able to replace the old computers with new ones in the computer rooms of the Bafia and Eau Claire centres in Bangangté. Since 2017, we have been fortunate to count on the support of the ATF Group, a specialist in the lifecycle management of professional IT and mobile telephony equipment. In addition to financial donations, especially through repayment operations following the purchase of computer equipment, the ATF Group has made regular computer donations to equip the classrooms of the association’s various centres and allow children to learn all about computing.

In the Bafia centre, the two old computers below have been replaced by laptops. Max, IT manager at Bafia took care of their installation and very quickly the young people wanted to try these wonderful tools under Odile’s watchful eye.

 Installation Ordinateurs Groupe ATF a Bafia

Installation Ordinateurs Groupe ATF a Bafia  Ordinateurs Groupe ATF

The same operation occurred in the computer room of the Eau Claire centre: the new computers have also been installed and are making people happy.

Ordinateur Groupe ATF   Donation of a laptop by ATF

Donation of a laptop by ATF  Ordinateur Eau Claire Bangangté 

A huge thank you to the entire ATF Group team for their loyal support to the young people of the Serge Betsen Academy! Our computing lessons are always very popular in our centres as you can see below.

 

Translation: Katy Birge-Wilson

Cameroon: Our rugby project for kids is gaining momentum!

50 toddlers (26 girls and 24 boys) from the Jardin Eden centre in Yaoundé and the Zoétélé centre, now play rugby in a well-equipped and safe environment. They are all insured and proudly wear the chasubles and belts created by Herode, a local seamstress. They use the official Touch Rugby game belts and tags. Their coaches also benefit from abundant equipment, provided by the equipment manufacturer, City Sport, allowing them to vary the exercises and to introduce their students to the fundamentals of rugby.

 

Rugby for Kids trainingRugby for Kids training Rugby for Kids trainingRugby for Kids training Rugby for Kids training

Through this program, all these children, whose families have great financial difficulties, play rugby on a weekly basis, discover its structure and its values, and are able to share a snack together. By following this program, they also have access to after-school tutoring and health checks in our centres.

It is thanks to Sport & Développement (French program of the NGO La Guilde, supported by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)) that these 50 children from the Cameroonian SBA, aged between 2 and 13, that “Rugby for Kids” exists.

We warmly thank the NGO La Guilde and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) for their support and trust, as well as Herode for using her talents as a seamstress to make the outfits for our little champions and Mr. Pierre Ndébi from City Sport Cameroon.

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Cameroon: Mr. Olivier Cadic, senator representing French citizens abroad visitsthe Jardin Eden Centre

On Wednesday December 16, Mr. Olivier Cadic, senator representing French citizens abroad visited the children of the Jardin Eden centre in Yaoundé. Nadège, Christelle and Josué had the honour of welcoming him and presenting our activities and actions to him.

Mr. Olivier Cadic published on his website a report of his visit to Yaoundé in which he dedicates the following paragraphs to our association and his visit:

“I had a great time at the Serge Betsen Academy discovering the universe where some thirty children grow up as happy as they are fulfilled (see picture).

Visite de M. Olivier Cadic à Yaoundé

Serge Betsen, a former French international with a prestigious record and who was awarded the title of the best rugby player in the world in 2002, is based in the United Kingdom.

Serge is not only an extraordinary athlete, he is also an exceptional personality who has decided to dedicate his energy to the creation of a support structure for disadvantaged children in Cameroon.

Shortly after my election to the Senate, I had invited Serge to the Luxembourg Palace (in Paris) and promised that as soon as I would go to Cameroon I would visit one of his centres.

I visited the Jardin Eden centre, one of the 5 SBA centres which opened in 2011 and was welcomed by Nadège, Christelle and Josué. I thank them for the lovely welcome, together with the children.

Located in the heart of Yaoundé, this centre is intended for children aged from 3 to 10 (school years (FR) CP to CM2, (UK) Year 2 to Year 6)) whose families are in precarious situations. It welcomes 30 children, each child benefiting from various activities thanks to two volunteers and a centre manager, Nadège Noa.

Since 2004, the SBA has helped more than 6,500 disadvantaged children, using the teaching of rugby as a vector of development to provide access to quality education and health monitoring. (More images).”

Nadège, M. Olivier Cadic, Christelle et Josué

All the children of the Jardin Eden centre, together with the Serge Betsen Academy team would like to thank the Senator for his warm visit. We are delighted to be featured in his photo retrospective of 2020.

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Cameroon: Loan of a laptop to enable Baudouin to be successful at university

Baudouin Tchamegni Keou is a young man from the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté. He is currently studying for a degree in Network and Multimedia Administration. To enable him to study in the best conditions and for him to succeed, we decided to lend him a laptop computer and to provide him with a kit of school supplies for a period of one year.

We are so happy and proud to be able to help him with his studies. We wish him a very successful year and kindly thank him for his warm message:

 

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Cameroon: School results for the year 2019-2020

We are very proud to share with you the academic results of our children for the school year 2019-2020. It was a very odd year; due to the pandemic schools and our centres were obliged to close for several months. However the results turned out clearly higher than the national average because our children knew how to remain serious and they continued to study, motivated by the managers of the centres.

Regarding the baccalaureate (general and technical), the SBA success rate reached 70.37% (the national rate is 47.22%).  The SBA pass rate for the BEPC is 90% (the national rate is 60.86%).  Finally, the general success rate (all classes combined, exam success and entry to the superior class) reached 86.03%.

We warmly congratulate our young people on their successes and we take this opportunity to thank our donors and partners who made it possible for our children to study in good conditions.

You will see below some souvenir photos of the young people whilst studying in our different centres during this complicated year.

Les jeunes de Bafia travaillent Soutien scolaire individuel à Bafia

Cours de soutien scolaire au centre Eau Claire  Jeunes de Zoétélé qui étudient

Les petits et Nadège au centre Jardin Eden

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Cameroon: It’s back to school for the 2020-2021 school year!

Due to the health crisis, the school calendar has been severely disrupted in Cameroon. So it was only on Monday 05 October 2020 that our children and their classmates were able to return to school. We wish them a good start to the school year and are determined to give them all the support they need to make this new year a success.

Thanks to the generosity of our partners and donors, our children were able to return to school well equipped. Distributions were carried out with joy in all the centres at the start of the school year. Often, on these occasions, small parties around a snack were organised. At the Eau Claire centre of Bangangté 125 children were happy to receive their treasures and to share a good meal together. At the Zoétélé centre, a ceremony was even organised by Abaa in the presence of the second degree village chief and a few parents, in order to distribute the school supplies and to provide scholarships to support education.

Distribution at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté Distribution at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté

ceremony distribution in Zoetele ceremony distribution in Zoetele

Distribution school supply and school bags in Bafia  Distribution school supply and school bags in Bafia

Distribution at the Jardin Eden centre Distribution at the Jardin Eden centre Distribution at the Jardin Eden centre

All the children at the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA), whether young or old, now proudly carry a well-stocked backpack.  These pretty “Victor bags” named after our donor Victor Obadia were made by Clarisse, a seamstress from Yaoundé, close to the SBA.

Victor school bags

It is notably thanks to the BIC group, to Mr. Arnopoulos of the ARNO group, to Icrafon following the efforts of Victor Roussel, Secretary of DROP (Doualla Rugby Old Papy’s) and to the other generous donors of the Ulule campaign created by a team of students at IPAG Business School, that our children have the necessary school supplies for the school year and that our centres are equipped with books and supplies.

Icrafon Victor Icrafon Victor

The BIC group gave us 1200 pens of each colour (blue, green, red and black) as well as a few boxes of pencils and felt pens which were distributed to our various centres. And to complete this collection, we were able to purchase other supplies useful to the centres thanks to the voucher of 120,000 FCFA (= 183 euros) that Mr Arnopoulos donated, as he did the previous year.

BIC donation BIC donation

For our rugby training, we were able to renew our stock of equipment thanks to the generosity of our donors in France and in particular to Hubert and Christophe. Hubert sent boxes containing 41 jerseys and 24 shorts for our rugby players as well as children’s clothing and toys.

Rugby equipment from Hubert Rugby equipment from Hubert

As for Christophe, he took care of transporting other boxes of rugby equipment to Yaoundé.  These were packages filled with sports’ vests, rugby polo shirts but also books that Christophe left in Etoudi. He arrived during a rugby training session so that our players and Moise had the joy of meeting him and thanking him in person.

Christophe and the rugbbymen of Etoudi Christophe and the rugbbymen of Etoudi

As for our infirmaries, we also stocked up on Laborex medicines and paramedical products offered by the DROP. In September, Victor, DROP’s Secretary came to train with our Bangangté rugby team. On this occasion, he handed over the school supplies offered by Icrafon as well as the Laborex medicines offered directly by DROP. Victor went to great lengths to enable us to receive these donations and we thank him very much.

Donation of medicines from the DROP

A huge thank you to all the donors for allowing our children to return to school well equipped!

 

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

 

Call for donations: Collection of rugby boots and sport shoes in progress

Friends of the Paris and Toulouse regions, we need your sport shoes and rugby boots!

Our young people are truly enjoying rugby, even barefoot or in flip flops.  Still we would really like to give them sport shoes or rugby boots so that they can train in better conditions.

If you have any of these treasures in good condition (child or adult sizes) in your closets, please send us a photo along with the size of the shoes by email (contact@sergebetsenacademy.org), so that we can see if they would suit one of our budding rugby players.  They will for sure make someone happy.

Thank you so much to all of you who have already shared our call and made a donation.

Our favourite physiotherapist, Major Mouvement has published some great stories on his Instagram account to give us a helping hand and we thank him!

Major Mouvement's call for donation

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

 

Cameroon: Our SBA Coop has tripled its crop production

Four years ago, our CEO, Odile Prevot offered to some mothers of the children we help, the opportunity to create a farming cooperative in Bangangté. She has been closely following their progress, meeting them virtually every month. So far, this cooperative has enabled 17 women to grow their income and has had a positive impact on the lives of their families and the ones of our children. Odile and all the Serge Betsen Academy are very proud of their achievements and their ambitions. She decided to write the following notes to honour these brave women and share with you their success story:

“How creating financial independence for women leads to sustainability?

Back in 2016 while visiting one of our centers in Cameroon, I was sitting in the classroom with a few of the mothers of the children we help. We have known each other for a number of years now and they are always in demand for stories coming from Europe and America.

Whilst seating with one of their babies on my lap, health and education were our main topics of discussion. They explained that, although the duty of the man is to provide a house and cover the main household’s costs, it is up to the mothers to take care of the children and all the costs associated with raising them. However unlike men, their access to financial resources is very limited. One of the mothers, Clotilde, expressed her concern that her working in the fields was not enough to provide for her children’ school fees and other expenses and asked for help as she knew that with the right resources, she could grow more crops and make ends meet.

Other mothers joined in and the discussion became very animated. Realizing it was a common problem, which could become an opportunity if they joined forces, I offered them to consider a cooperative framework, where the mothers would take responsibility over the operations and the management of COOP. The role of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) would be to provide oversight and the seed funding at the beginning of the year, and in return the COOP would reimburse the funding 12 months later and share a portion of the crops during the year, in order to help feed the children of the SBA center.

And just like that, the SBA COOP was created, the lawyer in me wanted to create a sustainable structure so I drafted the COOP bylaws following OHADA principles, with 11 mothers as founders with the SBA providing corn and bean seeds funding, producing 450kg of corn and 342kg of beans at year-end.

We are now four years later, the COOP has tripled its crop production, provided enough extra income for the mothers to finally afford to pay all their kids expenses, and in some cases allowing some of the mothers to start new businesses, becoming increasingly financially independent.

This incredible success story has also been very positive for the SBA, which was not only always repaid on time by the COOP, but it helped the center in becoming more sustainable as the COOP now provides enough food to feed more than 130 kids of the SBA center throughout the year, totaling nearly 4000 meals.  

Today this micro-financing scheme, offered to the moms, helps them to deal with emergencies, make critical purchases that they could not otherwise afford and put food on the table in times of scarcity, even start new business ventures! But more than that, they are all empowered to speak out more, they assume leadership roles. When I meet them virtually every month we make sure that SBA COOP is an opportunity to meet formally with all the other moms to discuss problems and develop joint actions.

So proud of our rural women. They are working as hard, or more, as the men next to them with less income and as member of civil society we must use our convening power to build capacity and resilience when assisting women in need.”

Odile Prevot

A meeting of the SBA Coop