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

Partnership: Christmas donation from the HAE Group, our dear partner

As an alternative to customer gifting in 2020, the HAE Group will be donating additional support to the charities they are closest to and notably to the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA). We would like to thank them warmly for their £500 donation for our children. It is such a beautiful gesture for Christmas.
We feel very fortunate to have HAE as a partner since 2014.
Holiday greetings and best wishes for the new year to all the HAE team!

Serge Betsen, new Sport Impact Leader

As a public figure committed to development through sports in Africa, Serge Betsen was invited by Sport en Commun to join the community of Sport Impact Leaders. We are really proud to see our President’s charitable actions receiving recognition!

And for those who don’t know Sport en Commun, it is a pan-African digital platform launched thanks to the French Development Agency (Agence francaise de Développement) and which is designed to facilitate transformation through sport by connecting project managers with providers that can fund their activities and support them in their implementation.

 

Serge Betsen - Sport Impact Leader

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

 

Mali: The SBA Mali is born!

With more than 16-years’ experience in Cameroon, the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) opened a branch in Mali. The opening ceremony, kicking off the start of the rugby training, took place on Saturday 24 October at the AS Real stadium in Bamako. As for the daily after-school tutoring, this will begin in a few weeks, the 25 young girls aged 8 to 13 having now been selected.

SBA Mali banner SBA Mali Girls

Through rugby, we want to offer new perspectives for the future of the 70-90 children who will follow our program. Among them, 25 young female rugby players from very disadvantaged backgrounds will be offered tutoring every day after school, except on Saturday, training day. By preventing them from dropping out of school, we seek to protect them against the scourges that plague Mali, namely forced marriages, teenage pregnancies and female genital mutilation (FGM).  A long struggle for girls’ education and gender equality is underway at the SBA Mali.

It is thanks to our referent on site, Boubacar Traoré a.k.a. “PC” that this opening ceremony was able to take place in the best of conditions. The get together was set-up at the Modibo Keita stadium located in the Djikoroni district. It is on the site of the Sports Association of AS Real in Bamako that the SBA Mali will be able to train and it is thanks to Mr. Sow, its president that we will very soon be able to install, on site, a mobile structure to accommodate our tutoring courses.

Joy and pleasure could be seen on all the faces, especially those of the little ones. About a hundred children were present as well as a few parents and guests who honoured us with their presence.

Before 4 p.m., young and old were ready on the ground and at 4:10 p.m. “PC” greeted the first guest: Mr. Sow’s representative: Mr. Abidine Maiga. We then began the opening ceremony with a presentation of the SBA in Bambara, the lingua franca of Mali.

Ceremony launch SBA Mali

The rugby games kicked off at 4.30 p.m. first with the big players: the national rugby sevens team taking on a team made up of other players from Bamako. Then, the U13 and U15 boys each played a game.

Rugby Matches SBA Mali Rugby Matches SBA Mali

At 5:00 p.m. we played the short video of the great Serge Betsen so that, in a way, he could be there with us too. Because of the global pandemic, sadly he was unable to be physically present for the big occasion.  Still, his encouragements rang out throughout the stadium and served as a good transition, prior to the girls’ games.

The girls appeared on the field and played very close games.  Their game was eagerly awaited, the girls holding a key place in the mission of the SBA Mali.  In the attached video you can appreciate their presence and their fighting spirit on the ground.

It was with great pride that the 25 girls aged 8 to 13, who will receive daily after-school tutoring as part of the first year of SBA Mali, were presented to everyone. As you may know, they were selected by “PC” among the Anges Noirs (Dark Angels) players and a meeting with the parents had been organised beforehand. We specifically chose these young girls to provide them with academic support through Malian teachers chosen by “PC”.  The aim is to help them continue their studies in order to provide them with a safe and healthy environment.

Girls of the SBA Mali tutoring programme

The opening ceremony ended with a well-deserved snack and some dancing.  Our children all seemed happy to meet again next Saturday for another training session.

The SBA Mali is launched, dreams will be fulfilled, lives will be changed.

We would very much like to thank the Malian authorities, H.E. Mahamadou Nimaga and his team from the Embassy of Mali in the USA, Mr. Arouna Modibo Touré, former Minister of Youth and Sports, for their support without which our branch could not have seen the day.

A big thank you also to Mr. Lauran, Vice President of the Rugby Federation of Mali, Dr. Seydou Sow, President of AS Real in Bamako who provided us with the ground for our training and the site for the after-school tutoring.

Our children also greatly appreciated the presence of Manhi Dembelebb, the champion of Mali in bench-press and Samba Benzema Doucoure, Credit Manager at Banque Atlantique, two models of success!

To learn more about the genesis of SBA Mali, please read our Press Release and share it with others, friends and more.  We also take this opportunity to thank the journalists who helped us share the good news about our branch in Mali.

 

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

Event: Once again, so much solidarity this year during the WateRugby!

This year, the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) was present in Toulouse from September 11 to 13 once again as a partner in solidarity with the “WateRugby Sud de France” tournament. Why ? Because the joy of playing rugby is to be shared and because rugby and solidarity go hand in hand.

We had an SBA stall set up where everyone was welcome to discover our mission and our actions, and also to get goodies or a Recycling Rugby confection. The total sales amounted to £1459 (=1608 €)!  Of course, Lionel’s bags made from recycled rugby balls came out as the sales’ big winners.

Stand SBA WateRugby Stand SBA WateRugby 

International players and amateurs alike got involved in all the photos, posing with a Recycling Rugby bag. It was a great solidarity moment, thank you!  We also thank all the visitors who came to us and asked questions, and bought one of our wonderful creations for a good cause! If you have not yet had the chance to grab the bag of your dreams, head to the @RecyclingRugby Facebook page. 100% of the profits are donated back to us. Custom-made confections are also possible.

This year again, we were able to count on the presence and the energy of 10 passionate volunteers whom we would like to thank a thousand times. Big thumbs up to Boris and his daughter Émilie, Nina, Caroline and her son Marius, Corinne the famous girl who taught Serge Betsen to tackle, Stéphanie, Aurélien, Christophe and his daughter Cassandre. You were absolutely perfect!

Stand SBA WateRugby Stand SBA WateRugby volunteers 

A big Thank you also to all the players for making us dream during three whole days! In these complicated times, it has done us a lot of good!

Thank you to Yann Delaigue and the entire “WateRugby Sud de France” team for the organisation and to all the superb partners gathered this year despite the Covid crisis, in particular: Sud de FranceBarraque PeintureDas WeltAuto, GPM Pharmateam, le Groupe ATFTrade Discount, Laptopservice, La Région Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée

Stand SBA WateRugby Stand SBA WateRugby

Finally, we send a special thank you to the Groupe ATF for setting up their solidarity operation in favour of the SBA and our friends from Rugby French Flair. On the Trade Discount platform, the Groupe ATF has sold 2100 recycled computer equipments in September, therefore the SBA is going to receive a donation of £1909 (=2100 €).

Finally, if you want to see the official pictures of our stall and of the Legends posing with the #RecyclingRugby bags, go to our Facebook page. See you next year! Take care of yourself! Stay Safe!

Stand SBA Recycling Rugby at WateRugby Stand SBA Recycling Rugby at WateRugby

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson