CAMAAY are Successful Applicants of Rhodes Scholars Southern African Forum Grant

Fighting Hidden Hunger

CAMAAY have become the successful applicants of a grant from the Rhodes Scholars Southern African Forum which is administered by Rhodes Scholars who are currently studying at Oxford University. This grant will allow CAMAAY to extend the Growing Gardens project to additional schools in North-West Cameroon.
The grant included an allocation to undertake an evaluation of the existing school gardens which have largely been funded through our supporters on Global Giving. With the help of our international volunteer, Joanne Yee, an evaluation framework and stakeholder questionnaire was designed. It contained some performance questions that aim to assess the achievement against key objectives of the project. Key learnings from this evaluation of the existing projects will be incorporated into the new projects to make them even stronger and more sustainable into the future.
The schools where the evaluation were undertaken include: Government School Gunda-Bessi – Batibo, Government School Ambo – Batibo, Government School Keonom – Batibo, Government School Wumukang – Batibo and Presbyterian Primary School – Bamendakwe.
The evaluation has indicated that there are three key challenges associated with the existing projects.

1. Water
The supply of water is intermittent, particularly in the dry season, as streams often dry out and schools don’t have onsite access to water. They often need to collect it by walking long distances to a stream or by collecting rainwater during the rainy season.

2. Economic sustainability
All of the school gardens still require external financial or inkind support to help the gardens progress. The gardens continue due to the management of the teachers and the children, however they cannot grow large crops or extend the gardens further without further financial or in-kind support.

3. Stakeholder engagement
While this evaluation and previous report have indicated that the community are becoming interested in the gardens at the schools, the support and interest is still at low levels than hoped. Newsletters have not been developed, as outlined within the original project plan, and technical or discussion sessions have only occasionally been held with the local community. Without the engagement of the community the schools will need to continue to develop and maintain the gardens without the support of the community.

Water security is a challenge throughout North-West Cameroon and the intermittent supply of water and distance to clean water sources provides a challenge for the productivity of our school gardens. The evaluation highlighted this as a key challenge and recommended that rainwater harvesting be investigated as an option to alleviate this challenge. This would involve setting up a system for collecting rainwater off the roof of the school and diverting it into storage in a tank. We need to investigate to ensure that the roof material does not provide a source of contamination for the plants and humans in the case that this is elected to be used as a drinking water source.
Successful aid projects require that with time inputs from external sources can be withdrawn and the project would continue successfully. CAMAAY will continue to work with the existing schools to develop approaches for creating sustainable gardens. A reliable source of water is a key to achieving this. This will assist the school to create enough crops so that seeds can be harvested and excess crops can be sold. The funds from these activities can be used to support future growth of the garden.

A bimonthly newsletter will be produced to share learnings and activities with the local community. This would also advertise relevant news such as training sessions being presented by volunteers and agricultural workers. These newsletters can also be shared with local relevant councils and other authorities. This will assist with growing the support of the local communities and the knowledge of what the gardens are trying to achieve.

CAMAAY are currently working through the recommendations within the evaluation and will monitor their progress as suitable actions are implemented.

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Five School Gardens in North-West Cameroon

As a result of your support, CAMAAY has successfully assisted 5 schools in setting up gardens in their schools in the Bali, Batibo and Oku regions. These have become an important asset to children as they have taught children to grow nutritious food which improves their health and knowledge of sustainable farming practices. Knowledge is being spread throughout the community as children are teaching their parents and parents are becoming more supportive of the gardens. From time to time the gardens provide excess vegetables and seedlings for use at home thereby improving the nutrition of the extended family. Family and other members of the community are becoming more interested in improving their own farming skills as a result of what they see as success in the school gardens.

As a result of the success of the existing project there has been significant interest from schools in other areas. CAMAAY hope to continue to expand the project into other schools in North-West Cameroon.

Prior to expanding the project to new schools CAMAAY want to stop, reflect and learn from the existing projects. We want to see even further success in any future projects and we wish to review key aspects of the existing projects to incorporate learnings into new projects.

This is a work in progress for CAMAAY. We are currently developing an evaluation framework which sets the approach for undertaking a strategic assessment of the success of our projects against our project objectives. First, we will review the objectives for our project, set key performance indicators and develop interview and assessment questions. Then we will undertake the site assessments to interview people and review associated documents.

An evaluation report will summarise the key learnings which will be incorporated into any project extension that occurs in the future.

Growing Hope for Cameroon School Children: Our Global Giving Donation Page

The children enjoying their harvest

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Connecting with Italian Classrooms

While Pietro was in the Bamenda area working on our school gardens, he established a pen pal relationship between his Cameroon classes and four classrooms at the Istituto Comprensivo Statale G. Parini, a primary school in Gorla Minore.  The children at Istituto G. Parini also has a garden, and they shared their gardening experiences, as well details about their lives.  They exchanged good wishes for Christmas and the National Day of Cameroon (February 11).

The kids at Bamendankwe show off the letters they received from Italy

The kids at Bamendankwe show off the letters they received from Italy

Pietro made this delightful video to share with the children in Italy:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bel1KnM6kz8

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Just an hour or two of your time can improve our gardens!

Do you have a green thumb? Are you passionate about eating healthy? If so, we’d love to hear from you!

We are working with five primary schools in North-West Cameroon to develop self-sufficient, climate-resilient, earth-friendly gardens that will inspire the next generation of farmers.  This year, the children had the most success with lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes.  Next year, we want to add one or more of the following: chickpeas or another “pulse” (pea or bean) that can be dried and/or made into flour, sweet potato, cassava, corn (maize, as it is known in Africa), watermelon, pawpaw, papaya, avocado, kale or some other nutritious green, and beets.  We would like to give the children at each school a set of 12 cards, each one with information on growing and eating one fruit or vegetable, which they can use to select from 4 to 8 crops that they would like to grow in that year’s garden.

Choose one or more of the fruits or vegetables listed above and fill out the attached information sheet for it.  Be sure to leave a comment about which one(s) you are working on, to avoid duplication.

You can find most of the information you need here:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has a good summary of the growing requirements (you can view it by clicking here) and uses for a variety of crops; click the forward arrow for information on nutrition (scroll down for charts).

Mother Earth News also has a good in-depth companion planting guide, which identifies which crops go well together, in terms of deterring insects or other benefits (you can view it by clicking here).

The plants will be growing in a semi-arid tropical climate 5° to 7° north of the equator.  Since the sun is almost directly overhead, its rays can be quite intense, but temperatures rarely climb over 90° F.  Heavy rains fall for about three months in fall and three months in spring.

It will likely take you 1 – 4 hours to complete the information for one crop;  doing just one is fine, but tackling two or three would be fabulous!  If you are interested in learning more about our projects, please view our Global Giving page where you can read more about the projects and updates.

Please email our International Affairs Coordinator, Jill Hinckley at connect@camaayworldwide.org with questions, or to forward a completed garden information sheet.

Bamendankwe

Bamendankwe

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Engineering Volunteer for Water Project

We’re looking for a motivated Engineer to volunteer with our Water Project in the Batibo district of Cameroon.

Background Information:

The Cameroon Association of Active Youths (CAMAAY) is a grass-roots community empowerment NGO that is working cooperatively with local villages and international volunteers to solve a crisis in the availability of clean water in the 14 districts of the North West Region.  Although most have water supply systems that were built fairly recently, many were poorly designed and have been improperly protected and maintained.  The villagers often end up drinking from nearby streams polluted with pesticides and animal feces, causing disease and even death.

Objectives:

  • Implement emergency measures to protect and extend the water supply in the Batibo district (pop. 70,000).
  • Design system improvements and maintenance measures to supply ample clean water on an ongoing basis.

Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Design plans to show where fences should be installed and trees planted in each of the 35 catchment areas that need them, and motivate local volunteers to accomplish this work by explaining why and how these are important.
  • Establish and implement procedures for collecting flow data and locate or generate soil and topography maps for all villages identified in our baseline study as needing water system rehabilitation.
  • Identify up to 10 projects that meet the criteria for the U.S. Ambassador’s self-help grants and work with village elders to prepare applications.
  • Work with our Community Organizer to run village workshops about the importance of clean water.
  • Install and monitor chlorine dispensers at locations where water is taken from polluters streams.
  • Work with Helvetas and Water Management Committees (WMCs) to recruit, train and supervise caretakers

Location:

Batibo Subdivision,

Bamenda, Northwest Region

Cameroon, Africa

Requirements/Qualifications and Skills:

  • Post-graduate study in Engineering and Water Supply or any Similar Qualification
  • Fluency in written and spoken English (French is an asset)
  • Ability to work on your own in sometimes difficult circumstances, with limited guidance or supervision
  • Ability to work cooperatively as a team member with indivduals from other cultures

Cost:  You should plan on paying €10 – 15/day ($12 – $18 US) for room, board and incidentals.  Assignments are from one to six months, at your choosing.

How to Apply:

To apply for this role, please email our International Affairs Coordinator, Jill Hinckley at connect@camaayworldwide.org. Attach Motivation letter/letter of interest, Curriculum Vitae/resume and any other relevant documentation that addresses the requirements above.

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Volunteer Support for Water Project

We need volunteers for our Water Project! Can you help?

Background Information:

The Cameroon Association of Active Youths (CAMAAY) is a grass-roots community empowerment NGO that is working cooperatively with local villages and international volunteers to solve a crisis in the availability of clean water in the 14 districts of the North West Region.  Although most have water supply systems that were built fairly recently, many were poorly designed and have been improperly protected and maintained.  The villagers often end up drinking from nearby streams polluted with pesticides and animal feces, causing disease and even death.

Objectives:

Implement emergency measures to protect and extend the water supply in the Batibo district (pop. 70,000).

Major Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Work with schools and committed individuals within the community to setup and maintain a water flow measurement system in each of 20 villages.
  • Help construct fences and install locks on access points as necessary to protect water catchment areas.
  • Help plant trees to protect water catchment areas from runoff and erosion.
  • Work with our Community Organizer to run village workshops about the importance of clean water and to brainstorm ways to conserve water.

Location:

Batibo Subdivision,

Bamenda, Northwest Region

Cameroon, Africa

Requirements/Qualifications and Skills:

  • A commitment to helping others
  • Basic knowledge of water management practices desired but not required
  • Fluency in written and spoken English (French is an asset)
  • Ability to collect, measure and file data efficiently and accurately
  • Ability to work on your own in sometimes difficult circumstances, with limited guidance or supervision
  • Ability to work cooperatively as a team member with indivduals from other cultures

Cost and Duration:  You should plan on paying €10 – €15/day ($12 – $18) for room, board and incidentals. Assignments can be from one to six months long, at your choosing.

How to Apply:

To apply for this role, please email our International Affairs Coordinator, Jill Hinckley at connect@camaayworldwide.org. Attach Motivation letter/letter of interest, Curriculum Vitae/resume and any other relevant documentation that addresses the requirements above.

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Growing Hope

Our gardens took a huge step forward toward being self-sustaining this year, thanks to the enthusiasm and vigilance of our volunteer from Italy, Pietro Clement, and the commitment of the kids and teachers. We can’t wait to apply this year’s experience to our gardens next fall.

School participation

Last year we overextended ourselves, so this year we settled on working with just 5 schools in the Bamenda area. This allowed Pietro to visit each school every week, on a rotating basis. We chose three schools from last year, Bambessi High School, Mendankwe Primary School and Chombo Primary School, and added Upstation Primary and Ambo Primary.

In Bambessi, the only high school this year, the interest of the students and the commitment of the teachers was limited; the seedlings were not tended during the Christmas break and all died. Although the Upstation children were excited to participate, the teachers and principal there were not supportive, and the garden site was too far away to provide proper supervision. In the others schools, crops were successfully harvested, and the children and teachers were enthusiastic.

Crops

The children were excited to at least try all the crops they grew, most of which they had not tasted before. The preparation of a huge salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and radishes was especially thrilling.

Carrots, lettuce, radishes, and tomatoes were the most successful crops, although only the lettuce grew in sufficient quantity that there was still some left after the children had taken enough to feed themselves and their families for a week. Radishes were the next-most prolific crop, but eaten raw, the children didn’t like the sharp taste. Carrots also grew well and could be eaten raw, but luckily were much more of a hit with the children. They also enjoyed the tomatoes they grew, but the harvest was small . Cauliflower, eggplant, and zucchini only produced enough for a few days’ food, were not that well liked, and were more complicated to prepare, and so will likely be dropped from next year’s gardens.

Although beans were planted in each of the gardens, only in Ambo did they produce, and there just enough to give everyone a taste. Since beans are so nutritious and can be dried and stored, we will try to purchase the necessary soil amendments next year to help the beans thrive. Indeed, since it is the “year of the pulses,” we want to do our part to teach the children the children and how to grow and enjoy this powerhouse crop.

Techniques

This year, most of the schools relied on manure that the children contributed from their farms at home for fertilizer, but every school started a compost pile, which will get things off to a great start next year. Mulch used was successfully in keeping weeds down and moisture in. Next year we will work on techniques for protecting the crops from pests, and institute a drip irrigation system.

Equipment

All schools had hoes, machetes, gloves, and buckets to work with, but we would like to be able to purchase wheel barrows for each school to make the work easier. Some schools were not fenced, and other fences fell into disrepair. We would like to try living fences (hedgerows) next year in some of the schools next year, which will not only be effective in keeping predators out but can provide protection from sun and wind, as well as an ongoing supply of fruit.

Looking ahead

We will continue gardens in Mendankwe, Ambo and Chombo next year and select two more from the other schools we worked with the first year. Because we will be introducing some new crops and techniques next year, all schools should probably still receive weekly visits for one more year, but after that, this year’s schools should become self-sustaining, providing an ongoing source of nutrition, income, and inspiration for a new generation of farmers.

salad2

The children enjoying their harvest

Want to learn more about how you can help with our gardens? Click here to learn more.

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Pietro’s 4-8 January 2016 Report

Our volunteer, Pietro Clément, has provided us with his 4-8 January weekly report, which can also be viewed on our GlobalGiving site:

Pietro grilling morrow

Pietro grilling morrow

Monday: At Bamendankwe Primary School the watering was done during the holidays. The morrow is bearing large vegetables and the carrots are growing healthy. Most of the lettuce was ready to be harvested, and was given to the children.

The children with their lettuce harvest

The children with their lettuce harvest

Tuesday: At Ambo Primary School the watering was also done during the holidays. The beans were ready but only a few plants had produced. We decided to keep the beans and plant them as a continuation of the project. The radish was harvested and left  to be distributed for Ernest. The tomato and most of the cauliflower are growing healthy, along with the carrots.

Wednesday: At Babes Secondary School the lesson for lower seed was about the polynomial theorem. Pietro did not give the class to the upper seed because they had another lesson scheduled for that day, but will start next week with them. The garden was neglected during the holidays: everything was dry and needing water, but not dead yet. If the watering begins soon, the garden can be saved.

Thursday: At Chomba Primary School the watering was done, at the best of their ability given the water access situation, during the holidays. The carrots and the lettuce are looking healthy, but only a few plants of tomato have reached a promising size.

Friday: At Upstation Primary School, during the watering sessions over the holidays, some of the children (not the ones selected for the garden project) had stolen the morrow. The plants are still there, but they are all barren, whereas they were bearing before we left for Christmas. We identified the responsible children, and will call their parents in school. We also finished harvesting the radish and distributed it to the children.

The children enjoying their harvest

The children enjoying their harvest

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Pietro’s December 2015 Update

Our wonder volunteer, Pietro Clément, has provided us with his 14-18 December Weekly Report, which can also be viewed on our GlobalGiving site:

Monday : At Bamendankwe Primary School it was country Sunday again, apparently they are the only village to have two country Sundays in a week of 8 days. Thus, the only thing we were allowed to do was water the garden. We also prepared the final arrangements for the “Right to Play” campaign that would be held there the next day.

The Bamendankwe students and their garden

The Bamendankwe students and their garden

Tuesday : Today a campaign for the Right to Play was organized. With a minibus, we brought 31 children from the Upstation school to the Bamendankwe school. We organised five stands with games for the 62 participating children. We had a sack race, an egg race, tug of war, relay and an imitation and guessing game. Four teams of six children and one of seven for each school were competing in every game in rotation. After the games were finished, we offered food to the children. The last activity was a football match opposing the two schools. Bamendankwe ended up winning at the penalties stages after the regular time finished and the score was 1-1. We donated one notebook and one pen to each of the children. The winning school also received some sweets.

Wednesday: At the Babessi Secondary School Pietro collected all the grades from the students and did an oral exam to one which was absent during the examination. Pietro participated with the class council and traveled back to Bamenda.

Thursday: At Chomba Primary School we watered the crops and gave instructions for the watering during the holidays. The access to water is difficult in the village and hopefully the teachers and students will do their best.

Friday: At Upstation primary school radish was harvested. We gave it to the children, who were enthusiastic. We also gave instructions for watering.

Students from Upstation with their harvest

Students from Upstation with their harvest

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Healthy Environment, Healthy Communities

Our wonderful volunteer, Pietro, has captured the wonderful play presented by the students and staff of Bamendankwe School!

The students very enthusiastically presented to the community the importance of protecting the environment. They informed their community that trees are very important to our oxygen supply, and that if we cut down trees we must replace them.

The students also warned their community of environmental hazards, as these can contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer. The students encouraged their community not burn their rubbish because of the toxins released into the atmosphere.

Enthusiasm for a healthy future is evident among the Bamendankwe students, and we are so pleased with the progress they are making! You can watch their play by viewing the video embedded below.

You can also learn more about our projects by viewing our Projects page.

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