Rotary Project Sustainability, Two Years Later
No one could have predicted results like these after repairing and equipping a two room school in a remote area of the North West Cameroon near Wum (GS Illum). For starters, the school has nothing but hills around it for miles. Nestled into these hills are small villages where Boro grazier herdsmen live with their families, their cattle pastured on the surrounding hillside. With a long zoom lense, one can go across the deep ravine to see the straw topped round huts grouped together. One can then move the camera to patches of white dots that are the humped back, long horned white cattle, the means by which the herdsmen measure their wealth.
|From villages like this come the children to attend GS Illum School.|
|2014 March Visit To GS Illum|
|Two Room School After Repairs|
On Tuesday, we first arrived at GS Illum, we were disappointed to find no one there but as often happens, opportunities arise as result. The small, two room primary structure that the Rotary Club of Truro rebuilt two years ago looks just like it did the day it was opened. As a result of interest in the school and improved conditions, more children from the surrounding hillsides began coming to school. The Dept of Education’s view of the school changed. The Dept designated the school as a teacher placement school for training teachers. With increased enrollment, the government built a first class two room structure beside the two room primary school that the Rotary Club of Truro repaired. Dept regulations require classroom sizes to be larger than the two room repaired school (the three classrooms in Befang are also smaller than Dept regulations because they are repaired classrooms, not new builds). Below is the newly built two room school. .
|Norbert, our driver, is carrying supplies for GS Illum from Marian the Librarian|
No one is at the school so we look around in amazement. The school is surrounded by school garden beautifully organized. Two sports fields are no doubt well used!
|Behind the Goal Posts Of the Sports Field, Land is Newly Cultivated|
|Geography corner with them maps of Cameroon and Africa outlined in rock. .|
I peeked into the new two room classrooms and was pleased to see proper benches, teachers’ desk, blackboard, good windows for lighting well built. Good because many buildings we see built by government are empty because they build and forget to equip them (eg. the hospital in Kumbo is a beautiful building but without equipment of any kind).
So, the children and teachers must be attending a special day. We travel to Wum, go to the Dept of Education. It is locked. We quickly discover that this is a sports day for the whole area. We find the sports field where hundreds of school children are gathered. The area is the size of a big football field. Hardly any time passed amidst the excitement of the hundreds of children surrounding the field, when Ewi Clementine, Headmistress of GS Illum came running across the chalked racing lanes to greet us. She didn’t know we were coming! Two ‘white’ faces in this area turn heads!
Yes, the children are all here. (Minimum of a five mile walk to the sports grounds from their huts). The children began arriving to greet us. Ewi quickly directed us all to the grandstand where opening ceremonies were just underway. We stood at attention for the raising of the flag on a bamboo pole and the national anthem.
|School Spirit Has Really Improved|
We reviewed our situation. Students and teachers were going to be all day at the sports event. We would be in Wum visiting microcredit participants, orphans and vulnerable children. We have gifts for the children from Marian the Librarian. Ewi suggested we take the school supplies to her house nearby. A door of opportunity opened.
Leaving the IDF cameraman at the sports field to make room in the car, we go to Ewi’s newly developing subdivision where she began building her home last year. Made from mud bricks, as yet not glazed, the design is so appealing. The front wall of the living room is circular. Inside she has proudly displayed children’s work in true mentor teacher fashion. We have a paper from IDF listing all the things Marion the Librarian has sent. Ewi examines the paper and signs it for Pa Tafrie to return to IDF, IDF will check later at the school to see the materials in place and to be sure they stay at the school. Ewi’s sister, who lives with her, gets a large bag full of children’s crafts from the school. A model of a little hut with a grass roof, woven bags, little sandals made of cardboard, beads, crafts made from scrounged materials. When we returned to the sports field, races were in full swing. Olivia, another teacher from GS Illum was on hand to greet us. These are dedicated teachers very appreciative of the changes that have been made at GS Illum to improve their teaching situation.
Allan was so impressed with the school garden that he gave the Head Mistress packages of seeds for each teacher. These seeds were a labor of love on his part. It began with Rotary Club of Truro putting up $300 Canadian dollars for seeds. We brought seeds in Douala at seed suppliers at the market. Then, we found a supplier of peanut seeds in Bafoussam bought corn seeds specific to particular growing conditions related to elevation. These were the seeds Allan packaged in several hundred individual lots for the farmers in Bana and Befang . Now he is giving each teacher in the two schools (GS Illum and Befang) seeds. They will create a lot of interest in new crops for the area and for the children. Peanuts, beans, cucumber, melon, corn, eggplant, orka, pumpkin; these seeds will be planted at the beginning of the school term in August when the rains are not so heavy.
We will be getting a report from the progress on the school repair in Befang and the progress of the farm project in Bana and will share that with you.
Meantime, we are enjoying a two week camper van trip in Europe. We have enjoyed hearing your comments! For us, a very satisfying adventure.