Volunteer: Josephine is doing research to help us launch new SBA projects.

A big welcome to Josephine, our new volunteer!

Josephine was at the Lycee Rochambeau in Washington DC. Holding her French Baccalaureate since Friday afternoon! CONGRATS, she is doing an internship at the Serge Betsen Academy USA until the end of the month alongside our CEO, Odile Prevot before starting her Bachelor in Political Science at McGill in Montreal. Using her analytical skills, Josephine is working on our new projects.  Stay tuned to find out more!

Josephine’s help is much appreciated and we would like to THANK her on behalf of all the SBA children.

Partnership: Our Rugby project for Kids has received a “Sport & Development” grant!

It is with great pride and joy that we can announce that our project “Rugby for Kids (girls and boys)” is one of the winners of, and as such has been awarded funding by, Sport & Développement (Sport & Development), a programme of the ONG La Guilde (The European Guild), supported by AFD – Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency).

At the Jardin Eden centre, the end of 2019 saw the budding start of an initiation to rugby carried out by Moise our coach at Etoudi and this try was successfully converted. This programme will be able to take on a new dimension thanks to this “Sport & Development” grant of 20,000 € ($ 22,680). 50 kids will indeed be able to discover rugby, respect, team spirit, healthy competition, avoid the “girls-boys” stereotypes and benefit from a structured education and medical care. We are so happy for these children and their families who, thanks to this programme, will have an easier daily life and a better future.

This programme will be set up in the Jardin Eden centre of Yaoundé and the centre of Zoétélé starting from August 2020. It will benefit 26 girls and 24 boys, aged from 2 to 13, from deprived families. They have hoped to play rugby for so many years, watching their big brothers and sisters of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) and their dream will come true sooner than expected!

The  kids will play rugby once a week, in a way designed as a safe awakening activity and will discover the fundamentals of this sport and its values. They will benefit very early on from a structured education on the rugby field but also on the benches of our centres during after school tutoring classes. They will be able to participate in these classes every afternoon from Monday to Friday at the Jardin Eden centre and on Saturdays and Sundays at the Zoétélé centre, throughout the whole year.

They will also have access to basic health care. They will go through an initial medical check-up, organised in August 2020, and then will carry on having medical monitoring throughout the project. In addition, on training days the children will enjoy a snack and will be taught hygiene rules.

We would warmly like to thank the ONG La Guilde (The European Guild) and AFD – Agence Française de Développement (French Development Agency) for their support and their trust, as well as Michèle Quenardel, our volunteer for all the help given to our team in responding to the call for projects.

We can’t wait to get the little ones from the SBA playing! Do not forget to follow the set-up of the #Rugby4Kids project on our social networks, because this project will make happy players and maybe we’ll see the emergence of mini Serge Betsens!

Translation by Katy Birgé-Wilson

 

Thank you: During this challenging and difficult period we have been fortunate to be supported by many of you!

We would like to sincerely thank all those who came and helped our children during this period of crisis. Our first thoughts go towards the managers of our centres who are managing the food distribution and also to Christelle, our volunteer from the Jardin Eden centre who is generously handing out afternoon snacks to the children living close to hers.

We would also like to thank all our sponsors who continue to be alongside us despite the challenging context. We would like to take the opportunity to thank Carole who organised a fundraising through Facebook for her birthday. Thanks to Carole and her friends, two Cameroonian designers were able to make 282 reusable masks for the children of our centres.

Finally our thanks go to our new volunteers Brice, France, Claire, Kathryn, Florent, Marc and Arnaud who have recently dedicated some of their time to do some translation and research works for the SBA.

We’re happy to see the SBA family growing!

Cameroon: Besides Covid-19 our children are still at risk of multiple other threats

Odile Prevot wishes to share her concerns on the multiple threats looming over the future of our children and their families. Africa’s population is young with 60% of Africans aged below 25; Covid-19 is a severe threat but the continent is still most affected by HIV, malaria and malnutrition, with around 2.5 million victims each year despite the existence of treatments.

SBA children live with less than $1,8 a day and while exchanging with one of our manager, he reported that “for some children being in lockdown means nothing, lockdown measures are for wealthy people. For us we have to work to get food”. This is the reason why we at SBA need you. It is to feed and treat the children. Last week the Eau Claire centre took care of 5 children who contracted malaria, one of them with a severe fever. He managed to get through it but how many will not? The World Health Organisation (WHO) is warning: “The number of Malaria deaths in Sub Saharan Africa may reach up to 769,000 in 2020, hence doubling the number reported in 2018. Such a high mortality rate was not recorded in the past 20 years”.

We should absolutely not forget that malaria is still a day to day threat in Africa and kills even more than Covid-19.

Please help our children against malaria by making a donation!

Cameroon: Help us feed our children and save lives during the pandemic!

During this COVID-19 pandemic, the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) families living in desperate conditions are especially vulnerable. Our new priority is therefore to fight hunger by distributing food to these families.

After implementing further hygiene procedures in our centres and educating our volunteers and the children, the SBA board took the decision to close all centres in order to limit the spread of the virus, and to protect our children, their families and our team. Only the Eau Claire infirmary is still open in order to help those who are sick in the village.

We have disinfected all the centres and set up an emergency food assistance scheme. Since our centres closed on March 18, each child has already received two bags of food, with essential items making us the meals normally served in our centres.

Our goal is to cope with food insecurity by organizing at least one round of food distribution per week in our centres.  The managers of our centres will always try to diversify the food they offer depending on the supply available in the village markets.

If you would like to help us, the best way is to make a financial donation so that we can distribute more food to the SBA supported families. You can either make a one-off donation for the amount of your choice, or become one of our sponsors by making monthly donations.

 

EVERY $1 YOU DONATE PROVIDES 6 MEALS TO OUR KIDS!

Help us fight children hunger now!

 

Please find here some photos of our food distributions:

 

Distribution of food at the Eau Claire centre:

 Food distribution at the Eau Claire centre

 

  Distribution Eau Claire centre 

 

Distribution to our rugbymen in Bangangté

Distribution in Bangangté

Distribution at the Bafia centre

Distribution in Bafia

 

Distribution at the Zoétélé centre

 

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!