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

Volunteer: Josué, SBA former student, now a nurse in two centres!

Thanks to Josué, each centre of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) now benefits from having a nurse on site.  This is wonderful news for our children’ health! We owe this to this generous young man who, a short time ago was still on the benches of our centre in Bafia.  This is his story:

‘Let me introduce myself: my name is Bidias Josué, I am 27 years old; when I was only 12 my father and mother passed away.  I live in Yaoundé, the Cameroonian capital.  I have a degree in psychology obtained in 2014 at the Yaoundé 1 University and in 2017 I got my professional diploma in nursing.  Today I work as a nurse in a dispensary located 56 km from Yaoundé, in the locality of Ngoumou.

In 2012, as I was in school year 12 (literary) in Bafia I heard about the SBA; Mr. Jean Cyril Monthé is the one who invited me to join.  Unfortunately I only spent 2 years among this family. They taught me so much and gave me everything.

My parents sadly weren’t fortunate enough to receive good care when they were on their hospital beds.  Since then I have become very sensitive to the suffering of people around me and this has motivated me to do the job that I do, to help and relieve the pain.

After my A-levels in 2013, I always dreamt of joining the SBA family, to give them my very best in order to ensure the best future for my cadets at the centre.  When the opportunity was presented to me, to be the nurse at Jardin Eden and Etoudi, I immediately accepted and started volunteering even before the hierarchy had accepted me.  And above all, it was a way for me to thank this family which for 2 years helped me grow into the man I am now.

My goal when I joined was to give the best of myself when practising as a nurse within the SBA.  Every time I work at the Jardin Eden centre I have to check on all the children, relieve their suffering and have educational talks with them. For those from Etoudi, I have to be there during their rugby training and carry out routine health checks. On Sundays I am present at the Etoudi Centre. For the Jardin Eden centre, it’s on Fridays.

My cadets, I urge you to get to work, to know how to say thank you to all the good wills who sacrifice themselves to offer you a better future!

A special thanks to all the people, near and far, who are actively working to give us a chance for a better future.

Thank you !!!!’

Premier jour de Josué, infirmier auprès des enfants de Jardin Eden Premier jour de Josué, infirmier auprès des enfants de Jardin Eden

Premier jour de Josué, infirmier auprès des jeunes rugbymen d'Etoudi Josué, infirmer et Moise, coach rugby

Premier jour de Josué, infirmier auprès des jeunes rugbymen d'Etourdi

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson

Health: The anti-malaria campaign has started!

Thanks to donations from the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation and other generous friends of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA), our nurses can now provide the care necessary to fight malaria. This is a great relief, because with the rainy season, among our patients the number of children and adults suffering from malaria has reached an all-time high this year.

Djibril, manager of the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté, placed an order with our friends at the “La Nouvelle Dignité” pharmacy and the anti-malaria medicines were delivered to the centre at the end of last week. In order to best distribute the 566 boxes of medication and the 10 mosquito nets a precise inventory of the needs of each centre had been carried out at the time of the order. This is because the medication and dosages are different depending on the age of each patient.

Malaria medicines

The precious delivery was distributed as follows:

  • The Eau Claire centre in Bangangté received 260 boxes of medicines to treat at least 240 cases of malaria, i.e. 100 children, 100 teenagers and 60 adults.
  • The Abraham and Sarah centre in Bafia received 113 boxes in order to treat at least 70 teenagers and 28 adults.
  • The Jardin Eden centre in Yaoundé received 78 boxes to treat 78 children.
  • Finally, the Zoétélé centre received 115 boxes needed for the care of at least 50 children and 50 teenagers.

Medicines received in Bangangté

With these supplies, we are now ready to face malaria in our infirmaries, which is great news! A huge thank you to our nurses for having diagnosed this local urgent need and for providing care to our dear children and their families; they are grateful to our donors for their generosity. Thanks to the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation, the SBA was able to respond in time to an urgent need for care. Being able to be cared for should never be a luxury.

Malaria tests Infirmary in Bafia

The medicines having been received, screening tests began this week in the centres. At the Bafia centre, out of the 25 children tested in two days, 13 were positive and were therefore able to start their treatment.

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson

Volunteer: Henri, French Teacher at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté

Henri is a French teacher at the Collège Saint Joseph in Bandjoun.

Every Sunday, he drives to Bangangté to assist the children of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) with any subject in which they may need help. Glad that the centre is located in his department, he is happy and proud to be able to contribute to the SBA organisation.

Thanks to Henri and to all the volunteers, the values of rugby are transmitted on the playing field but also on the outside. This sport, which he, to start with, found: “a little barbaric” is for him a “vector of sharing, team spirit and a taste for work! That’s all our students need to succeed!”

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson

Henri

Volunteer: Rosanne, Cook at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté

Rosanne is the chief cook at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté. Twice a week, she cooks between 50 and 100 meals for our studious pupils.

According to Rosanne, the children “really like fish with rice in a peanut sauce, but also macaroni, and ripe plantain with sautéed vegetables”! Rosanne works really hard and can sometimes need five hours to delight our students who, thanks to her, quickly recuperate after a long day at school.

Rosanne is happy to work with the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA), for the development and the good health of the students. She goes to great lengths to ensure that “the students pass their Baccalaureate (UK-Sixth form, A levels) or their BEPC (UK-GCSEs)”. Thank you Rosanne!

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson

Rosanne