Blog

USDA Delegation Visits Food For Education Program

Dear friends of Nascent, we have recently completed a great visit to the FFE/ALIGN project. The USDA team of Alessandra S. McCormack and Rich Higgins II, both of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service were positively impressed with our progress; particularly since the school year in our region of implementation was partially interrupted by a teachers’ strike in November 2017.

The USDA team, supported by Dr. Derrin R. Smith, Deputy Chief of the Political-Economic Section,and Mihaela Biliovschi-Smith, Executive Assistant Media at the US Embassy in Yaounde, expressed great satisfaction at seeing that implementation continued apace during the strike period.

Parents showed off school gardens, thick with fresh fruit and vegetables that they had cultivated. Village leaders pointed to the water towers carrying clean fresh water from deep down in the earth,  brought about by the water component of the ALIGN project. Caritas Kumbo the partner responsible for this aspect of the program proudly demonstrated the innovative child friendly pedal that releases water to reduce infection through regular manipulation of the faucet.

Muslim horsemen turned out in their village of Vekovi to welcome the visiting delegation. At a time of global turmoil, it was a hopeful sign, to see rural school children waving American flags and Muslim men in flowing robes performing a horse fantasia to welcome American officials into their midst.

Alessandra, who has supervised several McGovern-Dole projects around the world, said she could not remember any other that achieved this level of implementation this quickly and with such deep community buy-in.

In traditional ceremonies organized by local chiefs and community leaders Derrin was received the rank of “Shufai” or a Lord in the Royal Palace. The highest title for men in Bui traditions. Alessandra was crowned “Yaah” or “Queen Mother”. Rich received the rank of “Nformi” or general. In his case a “General of Books,” in recognition of the literacy component of the MGDD/ALIGN project. Mihaela is made a “Yesum” or “Mother of the Farm,” acknowledging USDA’s help in introducing school gardens with  the MGD/ALIGN project.  These accolades represent the unanimous approbation of grateful people who can see a bright future for their  children because of the generosity of the American people.

Read more

Parents & Communities Bring In School Garden Harvest For Their Children

Parents and Community gardeners have begun reaping the fruit of their labors, harvesting crops grown as part of the School Gardens component of the USDA funded McGovern-Dole Food For Education/ALIGN program. The harvest will bolster the nutrition of children in the environs of the 92 target schools. Even though a political crisis has disrupted many government services, parent engagement in the proper nutrition and education of their children has been undiminished and their participation and buy-in of the program has been heightened in the vacuum created by the current political crisis. All 92 Communities have remained engaged, continuing to receive take-home rations for their home-bound children, work the gardens and check out books as part of the mobile-reading initiative, devised to provide continuity for the children in a disrupted learning environment.

Read more

Building Responsive and Responsible Leaders

Nascent programs promote participatory decision-making which cultivates ownership, ensures transparent and accountable management of resources and sustainability.  Parents, teachers, school administrators and government officials pull their thoughts together to devise strategies on how to properly nourish children so they can perform better in school.

Read more

Transforming The Learning Environment In Cameroon

As part of the McGovern Dole Food For Education Grant implementation our infrastructure teams have been constructing and rehabilitating classrooms, toilets, handwashing stations and digging and constructing water wells, to provide better sanitation options and clean drinking water to students who rank among the poorest internationally.

In December 2016 Nascent field workers inaugurated the revamping of IPS Tatum in Kumbo.

The teams installed handwashing stations, dug and developed a well(which is in its final stages of preparation), built a bathroom, kitchen, storehouse and installed a water tank, which will feed the school garden, the toilets and the handwashing station.

Access to clean water in rural outpost schools is a challenge. Large numbers of pupils regularly contract dysentery and other diseases of poor sanitation.

Nascent field workers are working through political upheaval to ensure that when the pupils return to school, they will return to better teachers, and a clean, conducive and sanitary environment.

Read more

Good Governance Training To Sustain Literacy & Nutrition Gains

In order to sustain the transformative impact of the USDA funded McGovern-Dole Food For Education program in NorthWest Cameroon. Nascent/MGD workers have engaged community leaders, local officials and school staff in Good Governance training workshops to promote, cement and sustain the gains of two critical components of the program. These are:

  • Improving the literacy of school age children( through improving the literacy teaching skills of teachers and making reading materials more available to students)
  • Sustaining good health in pupils by continuing the school meals program, with community contributions in school kitchens, school gardens and broad governance sensitization on prioritizing the nutritional needs of students in local and community governance policy.

The workshops were well attended. Attendees were especially attracted to the Participatory Management Model for  Basic Education which even in the context of decentralization government, or reduced funding in poor countries can sustain high standards for  literacy and nutrition in school age children.

Read more

Helping HIV/AIDS Survivors Find Health & Independence

Mbaiyu Christopher is one of the beneficiaries of the International Food Relief Progam-Ngoketunjia sponsored by USAID, implemented by Nascent in Cameroon. “After being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2012, life became a nightmare for me. Battling with the illness and facing poverty/Hunger at the same time left me totally devastated with a continual perception of death.”


“Even with my love for gardening as a farmer, I was restricted by poor knowledge on improved gardening techniques and lack of improved seeds. My 10square meters garden with ‘waterleaf’ and tomato never yielded enough profit for my feeding and other basic needs” Christopher lives in Bamuka village of Ngohketunjia Division in the North West Region of Cameroon with high food insecurity and HIV prevalence rates of up to 6.3%. The Solution for Christopher was not to triple the size of his farm and plant more ‘water leaf’ and tomato, but to diversify his vegetable production to beet roots, carrots, green pepper, celery etc.

Through the 2015  IFRP in Ngohketunjia, Christopher alongside some 1200 PLWHIV received training on gardening, nutrition andseeds to start up their individual/family gardens. “Thanks to the gardening training and seeds i received, which enabled me to diversify my crop production, I am able to make at least 15,000 FCFA from my garden harvest every month. I hope to expand my cultivation in the future.” Christopher also joined a People Living With Aids group which  is coordinated as part of the program. This community has helped him cope and find purpose despite persisting social stigma.

Read more

Creating A Culture Of Literacy With Mobile Reading

Ishatou Bongkongyuy is a 10 year old girl of class 03 in GS Chaw, one of the Nascent’s MGD/ALIGN project schools in Noni Subdivision in Cameroon’s Northwest Province. Chaw is a small peasant community; over half of the population are Wodaabe. Ishatou is the last of a family of six.  Her mother Delphine Keri lost her husband 10 years ago while pregnant with Ishatou.

 

 

Despite the lessons Ishatou received in school daily, she was not reading either for leisure or school texts at home because she could barely read. Ishatou had to repeat class 03 due to her poor performance. She recalls that “During the EGRA test in 2016, when I was in class 3 for the first time, I could only read 04 words from the text presented to me without really understanding what they meant”. “The mobile reading has given me so much interest in reading that I am fighting to improve my ability to read, and my sister who is in secondary school has been helping me too. I have read four books with the help of my sister since the program started.  Now, I am very happy that on my own, I was able to read and understand 44 words from the last book my mother signed out with me at our school library”. Ishatou is more and more confident in her reading skills and always willingly reads for her parents during by-weekly book-sign-out sessions.

 

Delphine Keri, Ishatou’s mother confirms that Ishatou can now read and retell stories she has read in just 2 months since the start of the mobile reading program in her school.  According to her mother “Ishatou is learning to read faster than other children around who sometimes come to read with her”.

Read more

Parent Engagement Lays Foundations For Nutrition & Education

Parents in the North West Province have been tilling school gardens in preparation for the planting season in Cameroon. This element of the Nascent/McGovern Dole Food For Education Program illustrates the increasing commitment and ownership local parents and community members are taking in the nutrition and education of their children.

Despite political turmoil that has shuttered schools in the North West, the dedication of our beneficiary communities is been undimmed and their eagerness to assure the good health and well-being of their children demonstrated by their contributions of labor for school gardens and their attendance of best farming practices seminars. These Parent Teacher Associations continue to be essential partners as Nascent/MGD strive to find the best means to assist in the education and nutrition of local children while the schools are closed.

Read more

Mobile Reading Pilot In Cameroon

Students in the North West Province in Cameroon queued up with their parents throughout  Bui Division to receive books from Nascent/McGovern Dole Mobile Libraries in late March. The students who otherwise would be benefiting from the USDA sponsored Food For Education program in their classrooms, have had to adapt to political turmoil that has shuttered their schools.

With the help of local Nascent/MGD teams that are committed to not leaving them behind, they have continued to have access to literacy and study materials. Starting on March 25th, Nascent/MGD staff throughout the region established mobile libraries with literacy house-call follow-ups, working with parents to ensure that pupils in the affected areas continue to learn and acquire the essentials to be competitive in a changing world.

These endeavors are consistent with our commitment to work towards a literate sustainable and independent communities. Of particular note was the high participation of girls in this program, with the assistance of their parents, as social barriers to the education of women continue to be broken down, despite political uncertainty.

Read more

Transforming School Environments in Cameroon

As part of the McGovern Dole Food For Education Grant implementation our infrastructure teams have been constructing and rehabilitating classrooms, toilets, handwashing stations and digging and constructing water wells, to provide better sanitation options and clean drinking water to students who rank among the poorest internationally.

In December 2016 Nascent field workers inaugurated the revamping of IPS Tatum in Kumbo.

The teams installed handwashing stations, dug and developed a well(which is in its final stages of preparation), built a bathroom, kitchen, storehouse and installed a water tank, which will feed the school garden, the toilets and the handwashing station.

Access to clean water in rural outpost schools is a challenge. Large numbers of pupils regularly contract dysentery and other diseases of poor sanitation.

Nascent field workers are working through political upheaval to ensure that when the pupils return to school, they will return to better teachers, and a clean, conducive and sanitary environment.

Read more