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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Growing Futures: December 2015 Update

Exciting news from the field! Our wonderful volunteer, Pietro, has kindly shared with us some videos from the gardens in Bamendankwe and Upstation! The children have expressed their joy for the progress they’re making with the gardens and hope to have their own gardens someday when they grow up. If you would like to learn more about this project, please visit our Global Giving page by clicking here.

Check out Pietro’s videos to see the progress of the children involved in our school garden projects!

Erasmus is happy to share all that he has learnt about gardening and proud of how the garden is growing:

 

Bless is proud to show off how well the garden is growing and excited to have a garden of his own someday:

 

Laetitia keeps a watchful eye on the crops:

 

Perseverance is excited to use some of the vegetables from the garden for her Christmas salad:

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Last minute gift idea: give a smile!

smile

The first harvest from this year’s school gardens in Cameroon is in. These kids are thrilled both because they now have a healthy snack while at school that will stave off hunger and help them concentrate, and because they’ve learned that growing food doesn’t have to be the hard, back-breaking work they see their parents doing when the right crops are planted and nurtured in the right way.

radishHelp continue to bring smiles to their faces. Just $10 will buy all the seeds needed to add moringa oleifera trees to this garden to minimize erosion during the rainy season and provide shade during the dry months. Moringa’s seeds, pods and leaves are packed with vitamins, proteins and antioxidants for the kids and their families, and will also makes rich compost.

To donate, use the DONATE button above right, or visit our Global Giving project page.

Your donation will bring a smile to your face too, because the fast-growing moringa trees are very effective at absorbing carbon dioxide and so slowing global warming.

If you would like to make your donation a Christmas gift, we will email the recipient the card at the top of the page and a message of your choice. The default message reads:
Merry Christmas! [Your Name] just offset a little of your carbon footprint. Their [$10] gift to the Cameroon Association of Active Youths will grow moringa trees that will help feed these children for years to come, while drawing carbon from the atmosphere. Learn more at http://camaayworldwide.org/projects/moringa/.
Have a happy holiday — and share the joy.
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