Far from being an ordinary family, the Tcha Kounté family, of the Fatgo’o Bangangté linage, represents what we seek to achieve through our work at Serge Betsen Academy.
In a clay house, three generations live in a main room and a living room: the grandmother, parents and their two daughters Jessica (10 years) and Sabrina (8 years). The house is in the middle of the forest, surrounded by corn fields reaching maturity in this rainy season.
Jessica has been coming to the centre since 2008, she is delighted to come despite the one hour walk to get there. Her radiant smile wins you over the first second you see her, the intelligence of her gaze captivates you and you find she is a child out of the ordinary.
Context: we are in Western Cameroon, in a poor family. Jessica is a child sponsored by the centre * “Eau Claire”, which allows her to go to school and study centre during the days it is open and during school holidays. “I am happy to come to the centre, because there are many books in the library (the only library in the village!). We can ask the teacher when there is something you did not understand in class. You also learn to read and write Medumba ** (pronounced Medjimba). “
Jessica has passed the entrance into 6th year form (equivalent to Year 7 in UK), and she scored in the top 20 of over 600 applicants!
“Only Daddy passed this exam in the family but he did not go further.” Like Jessica, her sister Sabrina is no exception as she scored first in her class with 18 of average. They are the pride of their parents and teachers at the centre.
Jessica admits that the centre “opened her mind to the world with the computer room and internet access”, but she knows that the road is still long to accomplish her dreams of “being able to go to university”. We will endeavour to do all we can so that one day her dreams become a reality.
The Eau Claire centre functions through the hard work of director Elisabeth despite her 73 years of age.
She never stops finding new projects and seeing them to completion. The latest: the creation of a cooperative.
This cooperative, of which Jessica’s mother Marie-Claire is a founder, aims to improve the lives of families of children from the centre. In practical terms, the sum of FCFA 15,000 is allocated to each micro project: Marie-Claire whose business palm oil wholesale (buy-sell), recognises that despite a difficult economic situation “the cooperative has enabled us to improve our everyday lives”. With Marie Claire, three other mothers have benefited from this capital contribution. The cooperative has invested in the purchase of four hives that will soon be harvesting quality honey and above all a source of additional income for the women of the cooperative.
Today is the turn of English speaking*** Ernest, the guardian of the centre, to join the cooperative. His activity: carving wooden objects (statues, stools, etc.). Like a true artist, he makes traditional sculptures of great beauty.
*Jessica’s sponsorship allows amongst other things to pay for her school fees, manuals and school supplies.
** Local dialect
*** In the past Cameroon was placed in trust of the United Nations, who was represented by France and the United Kingdom. The West part of the country is English speaking, the Centre and East parts speak French.