March 3, 2014
School Lunches CameroonGift of Lunches
OE promotes philanthropist to use OE infrastructure for the benefit of students. Christmas 2013 brought cash gifts to six schools where funds were used for student lunches, playground equipment, classroom addition and student scholarships. Here is a report of how the funds from one gift were utilized for student lunches. REPORT ON SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME Kumbo, Cameroon: On the 23th of December 2013, Berinyuy Verye Marius coordinator of Opportunity Education Programme for the Diocese of Kumbo cashed a money gram fund transfer amounting to 2.377.000frs CFA equivalence of USDollars 5000 originating from Opportunity Education Omaha U.S.A. The money is meant for the school feeding schemes. On the same day, Monday 23 December 2013, the coordinator of Opportunity Education Programme held a meeting with the Catholic Education Secretary for the Diocese of Kumbo, Fr. Ferdzefer Cyprain Tatah to decide on which out of the ten pilot schools to benefit from the school feeding scheme. After a lot of brainstorming, argument and considerations, St. Martin de Pores Nursery and Primary School Binju was chosen. Catholic Nursery and Primary School Binju is a typical rural school in Donga-Mantung Division. She had an enrollment of 263 kids before the feeding scheme. At the moment, the school has an enrollment of 147 boys and 134 girls totaling 281 kids ranging from age 4-12. There are 2 classes in the Nursery section and 6 classes in the primary section. The school has 8 teachers, a Nursery Aider and a Computer teacher. About 85% of the children are of peasant background. The parents cultivate the slope of the Nkambe hills for food for the family. This area does not have good farm land that is why the families often run out of food before the next harvesting season. The stable food here is corn fufu and hackle berry. This, they eat every day. Families that are a bit enlightened punctuate their meals with potatoes, beans and plantains. The parents also farm potatoes, beans and coco yams but these they usually sell to generate money for palm oil, salt, health care and school needs for their children. This school also has a good number of HIV/AIDS orphans. These are taken care of by guardians and well-wishers. Catholic Nursery and Primary School Binju has a number of old buildings. These buildings were formally owned and used by the Tertiary sisters of St. Francis as a convent. The parents have to do some renovations every year to make the place a bit comfortable for the kids. A good number of children in this area do not come to school. They prefer to accompany their parents to the farm to look for food and some go for hunting. Literacy is so low and the consequences are evident. High juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy, high rate of sexually related illnesses and HIV/AIDS. A good number of kids who attend school do not perform to the maximum because of poor nutrition and retardation in growth. Mental activities seem so difficult to most of them. Eating habits and sanitation is a problem. A good number of children suffer from stomach problems and body rashes. This is linked to nutrition and sanitation. The Catholic Education Secretary and his close collaborators thus thought a food program will do a tremendous good in Binju with measurable results. SENSITIZATION News about the school feeding scheme and the choice of school was broken to the Binju community through Rev. Fr. Edwin Njongai, parish priest and manager of the Binju schools. He informed the parents and the community after holy mass on Sunday, 29 December 2013. There was a lot of excitement amongst the community members. MEETING WITH THE PARENTS The coordinator of Opportunity Education Mr. Berinyuy V. Marius held a sensitization meeting with the parents and school manager on Tuesday, 31 December 2013 in the premises of the Catholic School Binju. About 50 parents and guardians attended the meeting. During this meeting, the coordinator took time to explain the document (proposal) of the school feeding scheme. He also explained the proposed executing procedure and the participation of the partners. The parents and manager were exceptionally happy with the whole package and pledged their unflinching support and collaboration with the scheme. The parishioners immediately allocated a piece of land for the school garden and farm. This will help in partly sustaining the scheme next school year. During this meeting, an Executive Committee of 5 parents was elected to coordinate the activities of the school feeding scheme. The members are:
- 1. Mbungong Marcellus
- 2. Fai Ernest
- 3. Ngebi Anastasia
- 4. Afer Vivian
- 5. Sr. Innoncentia Ndey
3 ladies also volunteered to be trained as cooks for the project. They are:
- 1. Immaculate Beri
- 2. Awe Anna
- 3. Ndi Hycentha
PARTICIPATION OF PARENTS It was agreed that; the parents shall freely donate fuel wood for the cooking of food.
- They shall provide their children with plates and cutlery.
- The services of the three cooks shall be voluntary and free.
- The cooks shall only be paid a token allowance at the end of the month.
- The school manager shall be the custodian of the stock and property of the project.
- That consultation should be done with relevant share services that has to do with nutrition and health.
- The parents shall voluntarily come out to cultivate the school garden at appointed times.
CONSULTANCY AND TRAINING
- Amom charity - Cameroon, on NGO with experience and License to deal with school children was consulted to provide technical advice on nutrition, hygiene and sanitation for the project. This they readily and did at appointed times. They also accepted to train the three cooks for the project. Intense training was given for one week before the resumption of school and there after training continued on the job.
- A simple food menu was adopted making sure that all the meals are balanced in diet. The Menu consist of:
- Jell of Rice
- Corn chaff (corn and beans together)
- Rice chaff (rice and beans together)
KITCHEN AND INFRASTRUCTURE
- The school feeding scheme has a stone built apartment for a wood kitchen and a food store donated for the purpose by the parish priest of Binju. The Kitchen and store is well fortified to provide adequate security for the food stuff that is stored there. The scheme has brought cooking pots, serving pots food coolers, water containers etc. water is supplied by the public utility service. The parents contribute to pay the bills.
- Food is served by thethree cooks during lunch time (11:00 am) the food is accordingly shared and eaten in classrooms. After eating, the classroom is swept and reorganized for lessons to continue. While kids in the senior (5&6) classes clean their plates and cutlery, the cooks clean the plates for the younger ones and keep for the next day.
- The school manager, head teacher and the executive of the food committee are there on the spot to monitor the day to day operations of the scheme. They report to the coordinator of opportunity education program who is the scheme manager. The coordinator visits the school every two weeks for 2 to 3 days to monitor the effectiveness of the scheme. He pays bills for all the purchases done after thorough verification. He follows up the food rationing and quality. Once in a while the food and nutrition technicians passes by to control the quality of food and to follow up hygiene and sanctification. The coordinator is always contacted by phone each time they need his advice. This happened almost every day in the first month. Gradually the vision is becoming clearer and clearer as days go by and things are becoming more stable.
CONSTRAINTS and BREAK THROUGHS
- There were difficulties in the first two weeks with regard to rationing and quality of food. It took time for the cooks to master the techniques involved in large scale cooking. With time and with assistance of the invited resource person from AMOM CHARLY, the cooks are mastering their task.
- The prices of food stuff seem to be rising as the dry season is intensifying in the BINJU area, perishables cannot be stored in large quantities for a long time else all food stuff would have been bought and stored as far as the funds allow. Another reason for not storing in large quantities is the fear of mismanagement by the kitchen staff.
- The enrollment of the school is not stable. With the news of school feeding many more children are coming to school every day. They are unable to pay any fees and yet they want to eat. Those who had earlier dropped out of school for lack of school fees are coming back even without the fees. This constitutes a disciplinary problem. Should they be excluded from meals?
- The instability in daily attendance of the kids makes it difficult for the cooking staff to determine the right quantity of food to prepare. The enrollment is fluctuating. Those who have actually registered in school by paying some bit of fees are 281; these are those who actually deserve the food.
It will be ideal for the feeding scheme to run till the end of the school year in June.