Posts

Cameroon: A pleasant meeting between Ms. Marthe Félicité Zintchem, Mayor of the municipality of #Bafia and our Secretary General, Odile Prévot

On 5 July, Mrs. Marthe Félicité Zintchem, Mayor of the municipality of Bafia had a meeting with our CEO, Odile Prévot, in her offices. Both are committed to supporting young people. Thank you, Madam Mayor, for having met up with Odile Prevot and for having been attentive to the actions of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA).

“First lady Mayor of Bafia, lawyer and woman of action, the children of the SBA centre in Bafia will be delighted with your visit!”

We would like to thank the Bafia Town Hall team for having published the following text following Odile’s visit:

 

“A distinguished guest with the Mayor.

The Mayor of the municipality of #Bafia, Marthe Félicité Zintchem in Bodio, has just had a one to one meeting with the CEO of the Serge Betsen Academy association, who paid her a courtesy visit. In this context, Mrs. Odile Prévot explained to her lawyer colleague the purpose of her visit to the town hall today. In fact, Mrs. Odile Prévot came to present to her learned colleague the Abraham and Sarah Centre of the Serge Betsen Academy, located next to the “Lycée Classique et Moderne de Bafia”. This centre was created in 2004 and takes care of young people aged from 11 to 20 years old. This year, more young girls than boys are to benefit from the centre, placed under the local supervision of Mister Jean Cyrille Monthe. The centre provides academic support, medical aid through the infirmary which the students attend on Saturdays and sporting support through several sporting activities including rugby, a discipline in which the promoter, Serge Betsen, played at the highest level until becoming world champion. The centre currently has 65 children and 150 are knocking on its doors. Mrs. Odile Prévot plans to implement the project of producing washable sanitary napkins for the benefit of the young girls of this centre, most of whom are destitute, on condition that this project produces results in Bangante where it is currently under experiment. If this project gets off to a good start, the idea is that 75% of the profits go to the girls for their wheat 75%, and 25% go to the centre for its operating costs.

The Mayor expressed her full approval of this project which contributes to the development of local youth while giving a real chance to the children of the underprivileged. This project captures her attention even more so, as above all it integrates the young people who are the fundamental axis of Marthe Félicité Zintchem’s actions in Bodio, in her capacity as first magistrate of the city of #Bafia. She will then have the opportunity to visit, with eagerness, the buildings of this centre. And it was on a note of mutual appreciation that the two robed women parted ways, not without wishing each other resounding success in the conduct of their respective duties. ”

 

Translation: Katy Birge-Wilson

Mali: Odile Prévot talks about SBA Mali on ORTM, Mali’s national television channel

Odile Prévot, CEO of the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) was the guest of Amadou Kodio in “Samedi Loisirs”, a must-see program from the ORTM, the Office of Radio and Television of Mali. She was live at 2 p.m. (GMT) on Saturday 19 June 2021 and presented the great progress of SBA Mali. Thank you to Amadou Kodio and to the entire ORTM team for welcoming Odile Prévot!

 

The following day, on Sunday 20 June, in the presence of Serge Betsen and Odile Prévot, we inaugurated our after-school tutoring room dedicated to 25 girls aged from 8 to 13 and announced the opening of a medical dispensary within our centre. The Minister of Youth and Sports, in charge of Civic Education and Citizen Construction, Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher had honoured us with his presence in order to express his support for our activities. Following these magnificent steps forward by the SBA Mali, a report about this day was broadcast on Monday 21 June in “Score”, the evening sports program and rebroadcast the following morning at 10.00, on the 22, in the same program on ORTM1.

 

Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson

 

Mali: A beautiful inauguration ceremony for the after-school tutoring room of the SBA Mali centre

On Sunday 20 June at 11 a.m., the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) officially opened, with a lot of emotion, the after-school tutoring room for the 25 young girls selected among the players of the Saturday and Sunday training sessions. On this occasion, the association’s board specially made the trip to Mali and it was Serge Betsen, Odile Prévot, the children, Boubacar Traoré a.k.a. “PC” and the supervisors who received our guests. Among the official authorities, Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher, Minister of Youth and Sports, in charge of Civic Education and Citizen Construction did us the honour of presiding over the ceremony, thus affirming his support for our actions.

School room SBA Mali

The ceremony started at 11 a.m. at the AS REAL stadium in Bamako and it was Mory Touré, journalist and loyal supporter of SBA Mali who hosted the event as MC. The program of the day’s celebrations was organised as follows:

11 a.m.: arrival of children and guests

11.15-11.45 a.m.: children’s rugby matches

12 noon: speech by Serge Betsen

12.15 p.m.: speech by Odile Prevot

12.35 p.m.: speech by the Minister of Youth and Sports, in charge of Civic Education and Citizen Construction, Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher

12.45 p.m.: 3 exhibition matches of rugby sevens

12.45 p.m.: visit of the container by the 25 young girls and the guests

1 p.m.: buffet generously hosted by the restaurant LE LOFT in Bamako, then reunion with the players of the Hippos XV of Bamako.

The SBA Mali children, Mr Mossa Ag Attaher, Serge Betsen and Odile Prévot

 

During this event, Boubou Sangho, a young Malian entrepreneur, founder of Boubou Lait was introduced to our children. Impressed by his success, the board of the association had indeed offered him to become the mentor of the young people of SBA Mali, a mission which he kindly accepted.

The after-school tutoring classroom is now installed on the AS REAL stadium in Bamako with the authorisation of Mr. Sow, its president and Mr. Laurent, whom we’d like to thank warmly. And it is thanks to the hard work of our partner, the ATC Mali group founded and led by Jean-Guy Monneret that the container and its interior were manufactured, decorated and supplied. A few days before the inauguration, and once Serge Betsen, “PC” and the rugby coaches had cleared and cleaned-up the pitch, it was installed at the location indicated by Mr. Sow and Mr. Laurent. Desks, benches, shelves and blackboard were also kindly donated by Jean-Guy Monneret. The result is magnificent and we are very grateful to Jean-Guy for his donation and to his team. Thanks to them, our young girls will study in good conditions!

The girls discovering their after-school tutoring room

The after-school tutoring classes will start on Tuesday 6 July and so, 25 girls aged from 8 to 13, in great difficulty, will benefit from them. These will take place every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Madame Coulibaly Afoussatou, an experienced teacher and a volunteer, will assist the girls in order to provide them with the necessary keys to the continuation and success of their education. By supporting these girls, we indeed want to fight against school drop-out, forced marriage and teenage pregnancies which are rampant in Mali. The principle of equality between girls and boys is indeed at the heart of our principles. And our goal is to empower these girls.

During its stay in Mali, the association’s board made the children play rugby but above all spent precious time with them in order to talk at length, especially with the girls and their mothers, in a small group. The members of the board also met Dr Safiatou Samassa, a renowned young obstetrician gynaecologist at the University Hospital Centre of Bamako. Very sensitive to the situation of our children and to our mission, she agreed to volunteer to take care of our medical dispensary. From 17 July, she will be present, every Saturday, at the centre to offer medical check-ups and care to the children of SBA Mali and also their parents. The health component of the SBA Mali is therefore in good hands!

Odile Prévot, the Doctor and Serge Betsen

The board also had the opportunity to meet government representatives and local stakeholders to present the association’s progress and projects for the coming year. We would like to thank Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher, Minister of Youth and Sports, in charge of Civic Education and Citizen Construction and Mr. Arouna Modibo Touré, former Minister of Youth and Sports. We also want to thank H.E Nimaga Mahamadou, Ambassador of Mali to the United States who helped us from Washington DC to prepare for this trip and to put us in contact with people who could support us.

A big thank you also to our partners, the ATC Mali group for the magnificent container, Mr. Sow from AS REAL in Bamako and Mr. Laurent for lending us the land, but also to Mory Touré, Boubou Sangho, Martine du Loft restaurant for the delicious buffet, to the journalists who came to meet us, to Nicolas Réméné for his photos and to all those present at the inauguration.

Last but not least, a huge thank you to “PC”, our local contact, who set everything up and takes care of our children on a daily basis. Without him, nothing would be possible. He is helped by two rugby coaches, Diarra Mandjou and Diallo Yaya, whom we also wish to thank for their dedication.

The beautiful photos in this article were taken by our official photographer, Nicolas Réméné, on this very special day and we thank him for it.

 

Translation : Katy Birge-Wilson

Inside of the after-school room

Serge Betsen, Odile Prévot, Mory Touré devant le container

Rugby

Serge, Mr. Mossa Ag Attaher, Odile Prevot

2 girls at the rugby training

The Minister and a kid receiving trainees

Serge and PC

 

Serge and the girls playing rugby

Serge and the children

Cérémonie d’inauguration au Stade de l’AS REAL de Bamako dans le quartier de Para-Djicoroni , le 20 juin 2021 de la salle de soutien scolaire qui accueillera 25 jeunes filles de la Serge Betsen Academy en présence du Ministre de la Jeunesse et des Sports, chargé de l’Instruction Civique et de la Construction Citoyenne, M. Mossa Ag ATTAHER, de Monsieur Abidine Maïga, vice-président de la Fédération Malienne de Rugby et de l’ancien international français Serge Betsen.

 

Mali: The SBA Mali is expanding and deploying its education and health components!

Since October 2020, the Serge Betsen Academy (SBA) has opened a branch in Mali and rugby training takes place every weekend at the AS REAL stadium in Bamako. Following the model of the SBA in Cameroon, which has proven itself for the last 17 years, the SBA Mali uses rugby as a vector of social integration and adds the two missing strings to its bow: the education component and the health component. While the inauguration of the school support classroom dedicated to young girls will take place on Sunday 20 June in the presence of Serge Betsen and Odile Prévot, classes will actually begin early July.  The centre’s medical dispensary will also be open thanks to the presence of a renowned young volunteer doctor. The implementation of this winning model based on the three components is therefore imminent in Mali!

Among the 90 rugby players, 25 young girls from very disadvantaged backgrounds aged from 8 to 13 were selected to benefit from tutoring courses.  A classroom was needed on the premises of the stadium and a solution was under study.  And it was Jean-Guy Monneret, Managing Director and Founder of the ATC Mali group, who agreed to manufacture at his own expense a container dedicated to accommodate a classroom.  We sincerely thank him and his entire team. A few days ago, the rugby players of SBA Mali and Serge Betsen cleared out and cleaned up the grounds in order to install the container in the location indicated by Mr. Sow. Desks, benches, shelves and a blackboard were kindly donated by Jean-Guy Monneret.

Intérieur terminé du container Intérieur terminé du container

Serge à côté du container

By supporting these young girls, the SBA wishes to fight against dropping out of school, forced marriage and teenage pregnancies which are rampant in Mali. The principle of equality between girls and boys is indeed at the heart of the principles of the SBA, and education is the best key to fostering the empowerment of girls.

On Sunday 20 June at 11 am, the Serge Betsen Academy will be delighted to inaugurate the tutoring room.  For this occasion, the association’s board specially made the trip to Mali.  Serge Betsen, Odile Prévot, the children, the manager Boubacar Sidiki Traoré a.k.a. “PC” and the rugby coaches, Mandjou et Yaya, will greet the guests, among whom will be official authorities.  Mory Touré, loyal to the SBA Mali from its very beginnings will be there as MC and Boubou Sangho, Founder and CEO of Boubou Lait will take the floor to announce his wish to follow the young people closely, as a mentor. A visit to the container and rugby matches are of course scheduled for the day. It will be announced that the girls will start their classes on 5 July and will then be expected every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. A new life begins for them!

As for the health component of the SBA Mali, it is developing faster than was expected, thanks to a meeting with Dr Safiatou Samassa, an obstetrician gynaecologist at the University Hospital of Bamako.  She has volunteered to take care of the SBA Mali medical clinic.  She will be present at the centre every Saturday to provide medical check-ups and care to the children of SBA Mali and also their parents. Her presence will also allow for talks with the girls on the taboos surrounding the status of women in the country and the management of menstrual hygiene, with a view to the upcoming launch of the SBA Pads project for the production and distribution of washable sanitary napkins.

The SBA is now deploying its winning triptych, education – health – rugby in Mali, thanks to the support of official authorities, generous partners and donors who all believe in this project.  Reaching out to childhood is the goal of the association and success seems to be at the end of the road!

As part of its stay in Mali, the association’s board took the time to discuss in depth with the children and their mothers, took stock of progress, launched new projects and had the honour of meeting political figures, local authorities and various journalists whom we wish to thank. Nicolas Réméné, our documentary photographer, was present during the 16 June rugby training session to capture these unique moments.

We are pleased to post a few of his gorgeous shots below.

Translation : Katy Birgé-Wilson

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

Photo SBA Bamako - crédit : Nicolas Réméné

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