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

Press Release: Serge Betsen Academy, a proven model in Cameroon now deployed in Mali!

Please download the Word version of our Press Release here: Press Release – Serge Betsen Academy, a proven model in Cameroon now deployed in Mali

With more than 16 years’ experience in Cameroon, Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) opens a branch in Bamako, Mali. Since 2004, SBA has helped more than 6,500 disadvantaged children by using rugby to support their development and to offer a route to education and healthcare. It is Mali’s turn to benefit from this winning formula!

 

RUGBY AS MEANS OF SOCIAL INTEGRATION

 Since 2004, SBA has supported over 6,500 children in its five centres in Cameroon, run four infirmaries and served 5,600 meals in the last two years thanks to the SBA Coop harvests (a farming cooperative run by mothers of SBA children), secured a baccalaureate success rate always above the national average, reaching 79% in 2019, built 5 wells and 3 water towers, provided 4.5 tons of supplies and insured 60 rugby players a year.

During the COVID-19 crisis, the centres closed from 18 March, to limit the spread of the virus. SBA ran an information campaign regarding preventative measures and provided support to the children and their families. Each child received a food bag every week, as well as soap, and SBA provided 367 reusable face masks, to help families avoid hunger and protect themselves and others. Since 17 June, only those children who are preparing an exam attend the centres. It is a final bit of support in strict sanitary conditions!

In normal times, 400 children benefit from SBA’s help each week. SBA welcomes children of all ages in after school support groups to help them succeed at school, pass their exams and follow their dreams. SBA has a particular focus on supporting girls so they can continue their education and enjoy a setting that is free of prejudices. All children and their families receive good healthcare from the centres’ nurses, including vaccination and awareness-raising campaigns. For example, an antimalarial programme is in train at the five centres.

Rugby practice supports children in acquiring values and life bearings, for both boys and girls. This helps them build character. A “ Rugby for Kids” programme will start in September 2020 to allow 26 girls and 24 boys from disadvantaged families and aged between 2 and 13 to play rugby and to benefit from a structured education both on the rugby field and in the classroom. Together with their families, they will receive the same healthcare support as all other SBA children.

 

SERGE BETSEN, A RUGBY LEGEND CELEBRATED IN MALI

Before joining English side London Wasps, Serge Betsen excelled in French rugby with 63 caps for the national team, two Grand Slams and three titles in the 6 Nations Championship, and one of the highest honours of the French Republic, the Légion d’Honneur as Chevalier. And the France player was also captain and three times French champion with Biarritz Olympique, for which he played all his career while in France and at the time of his first cap in 1997.

A “Knacker” with a big heart, Serge Betsen is French with Cameroonian origins and lives in London. But his soul has remained in Africa. Serge Betsen is clearly a star in Cameroon… and in other African nations, as he recently discovered that Malian rugby players appreciate his on-field exploits.

Serge Betsen is clearly a star in Cameroon… and in other African nations, as he recently discovered that Malian rugby players appreciate his on-field exploits.

In the lead-up to a Mali Cup in Bamako on 29 July 2017, the Hippos XV team from Bamako Rugby Club contacted Serge Betsen Academy to ask for permission to offer a trophy in his image. This trophy was the reward for Best Player in the Mali Cup. Since then, SBA has been in close contact with Bamako’s Hippos XV and has carried out research into options for developing rugby in Mali. SBA met S.E. Mahamadou Nimaga, Mali’s ambassador to the US to learn more about the country and organised a field trip so that Serge Betsen could experience Mali’s rugby set-up.

 

A TRIGGERING TRIP

Serge Betsen, President of SBA and Odile Prévot, CEO therefore went on a field trip to Mali from 4 to 8 January 2020. Its objectives were to assess the situation for Mali’s youths, to identify their needs, to see young girls and boys from Bamako clubs Hippos XV and Anges Noirs [Black Angels] play rugby, to meet the club’s President and coaches so as to test the case for establishing an SBA centre in Bamako.

A further meeting with M. Arouna Modibo Touré, Mali’s Minister of Youth and Sports strengthened their view that an SBA presence in Mali would serve a real purpose and help convey a passion for rugby and SBA’s values to disadvantaged children in Mali.

At the end of the trip, Serge Betsen received a copy of the trophy in his image. This squared the circle in a way as it is because of this trophy that this adventure started!

 

OPENING A SBA CENTRE IN BAMAKO

In March 2020, SBA’s leadership met to vote on whether to start SBA Mali. Boubacar Traoré aka « PC », SBA’s representative in Mali, became Treasurer for SBA Mali.

Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, SBA delayed the official opening of the Bamako centre to October 2020, but the decision stands. Dr Seydou Sow, President of the Bamako Real sports association, granted SBA Mali access to a rugby field at the Modibo Keïta stadium. Set in Bamako’s Djikoroni neighbourhood, young girls and boys playing for Anges Noirs rugby will be able to train there from the beginning of the school year. SBA will set up a classroom near the stadium entrance to welcome 25 girls for after school tutoring every afternoon. Next step: organising healthcare for those children.

SBA now lends a hand to disadvantaged children in Mali. More lives will improve thanks to rugby! A beautiful story is in the making.

 

MEDIA CONTACT

Maïlys Finel : mailys@sergebetsenacademy.org / contact@sergebetsenacademy.org

www.sergebetsenacademy.com

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Partnership: Discover the SOLIKEND gift card for companies!

Our great partner SOLIKEND has launched a 100% solidarity gift card for companies. It is therefore now possible to offer your employees a dream stay at the hotel. The amount of the gift card is 100% donated to the Serge Betsen Academy or to the charity chosen by you or by the recipient of the gift.

A new concept to discover here in video:

To learn more, it’s here!

Don’t wait to get your gift cards (valid for 2 years) to the delight of your employees, and our underprivileged children!

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

Volunteer: Mr. Jacques, Nurse at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté

Mr. Jacques has been a nurse at the Eau Claire centre in Bangangté since March 2018.

The children and sometimes even their parents come to visit him on Wednesday, Saturday and Sundays.  During school holidays, he carries out medical check-ups for all the children (blood pressure, weight, teeth, deworming, etc.). He therefore deals with the public health problems in Cameroon.

Mr. Jacques is happy to be part of this structure which allows children to benefit from both educational and health support! “This is a great initiative for the community of Bangangté”.

 

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson

Jacques

Volunteer : Théophile, Maths Teacher at the Bafia centre

Théophile is a maths teacher. Three years ago, one of his students told him about the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) and since that day he comes to the centre every weekend to help our students:

“I try to assist them with their problems, to facilitate their understanding of the lessons and I put my knowledge at their disposal.” He adds: “I chose to teach and I like helping the children of the centre. I take great pleasure in teaching here because the students are welcoming and available. I come to the SBA Bafia centre because I like it”.

What he also appreciates: the mutual respect (vertically and horizontally) between the children of different ages and the teachers. Here the atmosphere is friendly and good natured.

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson

Théophile

Partnership: The Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation awarded us a new grant!

Huge thanks to the Wasps Legends Charitable Foundation for awarding us a grant worth £2,500 during its virtual gathering. Even during the coronavirus lockdown, we can still count on the Wasps family!

It is an honor to be supported by the Wasps community along with other great charities. We are proud of using rugby to make a positive impact on the life of Cameroonian kids!

This grant will be used for the campaign of malaria, as we had during Covid19 more malaria cases with the kids than never before. We still don‘t know if it is due to the fact that more kids and families in general come to our clinics because they trust us and especially the nurses or, if it is because the drugs for malaria are missing due to the frontiers being closed and no medication is coming from Europe or the US.
Through this campaign of malaria, we want to cover our 5 centers.

Thanks again to all the Wasps Legends for your generosity!

For those who want to read more about the amazing efforts made by former Wasps players, please read their article here.

Volunteer: Christelle, contributing artist at the Jardin Eden centre

Christelle has two hats: that of a law student and that of a self-taught painter.

Four times a week, when she is not working in her workshop, she attends law school. During her free time, she’s off to the centre of Jardin Eden to lend a helping hand to Nadege with the children.

Christelle helps the children to develop their creativity by introducing them to drawing, painting and animated songs! She teaches them the basics: primary colours, geometric shapes; and asks them to use their imagination because “children are fine creators”.

She has been working with the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) since 2013 and endeavours to convey her love for the Cameroonian culture. In her works, she loves to represent rural women, musicians playing drums, griots (who are traditional performers who sing stories and tales) and fields. She wishes that the children living in towns also know the traditions of their ancestors! And indeed, the creation of the vegetable garden of Jardin Eden and the lessons around the germination of seeds are part of the same approach!

Christelle would like to warmly thank our donors and sponsors: “We work hard with the children to make our donors proud! Each child and each manager goes above and beyond to become better! A big thank you to all of you!”

 

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson