Reach Out Cameroon (REO)

Community Vision Underprivileged and marginalized groups are aware of their rights to participate in decision making, have equal access to resources and benefits, and become self-reliant within a supportive policy environment for sustainable development in Cameroon. Core Values ACT: Accountability, Commitment, Transparency Organizational Mission REACH OUT supports underprivileged and marginalized groups within the communities on health issues, wealth creation, and provide capacity building and information through the use of participatory approaches and advocacy. Vision for the organization REO is a self-sustained organization, attracting skilled staffs that work in cohesion to deliver se...
Apr 10, 2015

The start of a new semester thanks to you

Rahim in UB campus
Rahim in UB campus

Through your donations and the Orphanage support, Rahim has been able to continue to receive educational support. He continues to attend to some basic needs like payment of handouts in school, electricity bills and feeding.

Last week we went down to University of Buea to interview him to follow up on his situation. His grades have not been perfect and he will have to write again a few subjects, which is probably connected to his constant struggle to manage with the few resources we are providing for him, most days he eats the same thing, rice and tomato. He struggles to get through small payments (handouts, 2 dollars) and subsists on less than 40 dollars a month, slightly above the 1 dollar a day figure.

This are some of the contents of that interview:

What are your perspectives for the future, what would you like to be doing after your degree?

After getting my degree on Geography if I can save enough money I hope I can continue to a Master’s Degree. I would like to specialize myself on Urban Town Planning.

Whatever occupation I have I will have to assist my brothers and sisters at the orphanage as much as I can, at least to the point that every child there should have something going. I will always remain connected to my home.

What is your favorite thing about life as a student in UB?

The atmosphere is nice and it’s serious. The lecturers are serious. Especially on exam times everything is hard work.

What is the hardest part of life as a student in UB?

The issue of my feeding, as our schedule can run very long going back to the house and cooking late at night is exhausting, you get to the end of the day exhausted, especially on Mondays and Tuesdays. I don’t eat outside I cannot afford it. Every day I eat my rice and tomato.

How is your normal day-to-day life? What do you do on your leisure times?

Well we don’t really get much time, I have class from Monday to Saturday, on Sunday I prepare for next week lectures.

Do you keep in close contact with the orphanage? What can you tell us about them?

They have a problem right now as the roof is leaking and they need to fix it. They are renting farms to support themselves. There are 26 kids, 5 of them around my age the majority of them from 1 to 12 years old.

What would you like to say to the people who are supporting you?

God will bless all of them and he is seeing the support and will not leave them empty

I’m happy, all of you people have done so much, those donating and those in the office, and I’ll work hard to bring results to present.

In front of Social Managment Sciences faculty
In front of Social Managment Sciences faculty
Mar 18, 2015

We keep on improving thanks to your support

Mercy, in charge of collecting payments
Mercy, in charge of collecting payments

Dear Donors,

These last months had brought some hard to face news, and we don’t want to hide them from you. Claudine, the star of our program, main picture in the globalgiving page, fell seriously sick, her legs were paralyzed, the saloon was closed for months and all her efforts and progress seemed to be washed down by the difficulties of life. Luckily a few weeks ago she could re-open again, in a new location; we will soon re-assess the situation.

This is the time where we will start collecting the loans back from the newest group of girls in Tole after a three months period of grace. We have charged this task upon them. Mercy, one of the beneficiaries, is relied to be collecting the money for us. We did not need to remind them, in fact we have been receiving calls from them (Mae, portrayed in the last report, called myself personally) asking us when were we coming to collect.

Our team also met with the Adult Literacy students in Buea Town and Bumaka, the classes are targeted for the Muslim community as it is normal among the Mbororo ethnicity that women remain illiterate. We had been asked to try and come out with a fundraise strategy for the program, as it has been running for a lot of time but due to donor withdrawal even the transport costs of the volunteers were in danger. It was then that the idea of joining both programs came together. Most of the girls that meet every Monday and Wednesday to learn how to write, read and even speak English would qualify for one of our grants. Actually the platform of weekly classes will allow us to keep better track on their business management and bookkeeping skills, their proven capacity for hard work and progress is also inspiring to work with. So the partnership between these two programs seemed only natural.

I want to close with another Mercy, this one from Bakweri Town,he started selling “pot” (that is selling little pieces of meat with spices on a cooking pot and going around the street selling them for 50CFA, 10 cent of dollar, a piece). She is one of our last beneficiaries and she is supporting her family on her own, paying for her sister's education and the needs of her child, only with the proceeds from the business. She has a keen eye for business, a good recipe and the determination to be walking all day, holding the pot on her head. She has been making consistent profit (around 3000 francs a day, 6 dollars, of profit, overall sales being 30, at 10 cents a piece!). Her next step will be a fridge that will protect her from the fluctuating prices of meat, improving her profits by around 2 dollars a day.

So this is the next step, giving her and a selected group of girls like her the tools for a big leap towards the end of poverty. We know that you will continue to be with them along the journey.

Thank you again, so many times we are being thanked by the girls and we know that it’s to you that they should be thankful. We explain then that it is not thanks to us, but to normal people like them with better opportunities and a great heart, that help came through.

We have to add also that today is Bonus Day and any donation to this project will be matched by Globalgiving by 30%, you have given so much, we can only ask you to consider sharing this information among friends and family, as we know you care about the project and the girls.

P.D: Reports for the microprojects related to this project have also been published, you can find them here:

Hairdressing with Becky and Itsa: http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-two-hair-saloons-with-itsa-and-becky/

Tailoring with Aba: http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-a-tailoring-business-with-aba/

Mercy
Mercy's table shop
One of the students of the literacy classes
One of the students of the literacy classes
Volunteer, trainer and Aba.Tailoring project.
Volunteer, trainer and Aba.Tailoring project.
Mar 18, 2015

A few stones on the way, Aba's Final Report

Disbursement of sewing items
Disbursement of sewing items

Aba’s report is late, but we expect that after reading the reasons why you will forgive us, you should forgive us also for this exceptionally long report, they are supposed to be kept short, but we feel we cannot explain this problem without exposing the whole story.

The truth is we have not made much progress with Aba.

Shortly after we post the project, even before we started getting donations for her, we could provide for her to start training with a local seamstress.

We paid for 9 months training, what we assessed necessary, and left her be while hoping to receive your kind donations to fully assist her with her whole situation.

But shortly after her training the problems began. Around 3 weeks after starting, she had severe pains and went to a nearby Hospital, where she had to be operated to extract her appendix.

Aba’s mother came to see us in the office to explain the situation, after the operation, Aba had to remain in the hospital. She was being retained because of being unable to pay the bills. This sounded particularly outraging to expatriate volunteers, as it is literally retaining someone against her will, but it turns out to be common practice in all medical facilities in Cameroon, due to the lack of identification and tracking resources, you can only leave a facility if you have paid.

So she pledge to us for money to release Aba from the Hospital (add up that every night she spent there the bill was growing and the mother was obliged to bring her food, mounting the costs even more). This was a though internal discussion. In the end we decided to not help with this, for several reasons we expect you to understand: Even though donations had started to come for Aba the project was for her economic empowerment (so she can eventually provide for herself) and for the rights to fully develop for Mendi, her child, not for just any need she would have. We would be setting a precedent we could not sustain if we started helping Tole inhabitants with hospital bills, we just don’t have such a structure and running budget, it would not be an appropriate message and it will not be fair to the rest of Tole population, to add up to all this, Aba was in a private Hospital, not in a government facility.

Eventually our decision turned out right, as she was released of the hospital shortly after her mother’s visit thanks to a friend of the family.

But her problems had just started to aggravate.

A few weeks after she went back to her hospital, as she had started to bleed. She was operated and gave birth to two stillborn babies. It seems that the past procedure for the appendix killed the twins. At that time she was asked if she was pregnant and she denied so no appropriate measure was taken, so a few weeks after two dead children were taken out of her.

Before judging her to harshly try to think of her situation (household conditions, economic problems, disabled child and abandoned by the father) for a second, using the Western terms of stress, anxiety and depression.

We were disappointed and we understand you disappointment if you are feeling it too, the reality of Aba’s life proved more difficult than we expected. A reminder that development work is not only about impressive success stories, the pressures and difficulties that our beneficiaries are under are tremendous.

We had several talks with her and our experts counseled her on Reproductive Health and Family Planning.

Recovering of her two operations with bleeding and fatigue maimed her for more than two months, by then we were even suspecting of depression, but luckily checkup visits showed a different more positive Aba with time, and it was three weeks ago that she re-started her training with the local seamstress and she still has a long way till she is able to set up a tailoring shop of her own.

On Wednesday March 11th we delivered to her a sewing machine and some sewing materials so she can push her training further in her house and even start doing lesser tailoring jobs to bring income to the house as fast as possible (The only income being her mother´s job at the tea plantation, for 25.000 francs a month, roughly 50$).

What about Mendi? It was also three weeks ago that we could visit the Center for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled in Tiko. It was his first visit in more than one year, when Aba’s economic situation pushed her to stop the treatment. She was accompanied by this same volunteer that is writing and the professionals there re-assessed her situation. There were certain items to be bought (a different kind of walker, boots with an insole, massaging materials and even toys are absolutely capital), and she must continue her visits, but the fact is that we could not budget for weekly visits, considering together the transportation costs and the fees in the Health Center adds up to a weekly cost of 7000 CFA (14 dollars), a sum that we cannot sustainably cover over the years, so it was agreed that she would go to ten subsidized visits and learn how to stimulate the child herself, the visit confirmed us that she can be trained on this easily, in fact is the 1 hour that she is supposed to spend with her child daily stimulating him that is the single most important thing for his mental development, rather than the 20-30 minutes with the expert two times a week.

Mendi has a paralysis of his brain and spine originated a few days after his birth after something went terribly wrong during his circumcision. Even though he cannot walk his legs are quite strong and he uses them with a walker or crawling, his left hand has almost no use and is the right hand that he relies on, he is almost 4 years and does not seem to be able to talk, but I can abide for his communication skills, he is a kid you can play and interact with easily. The exercises that he is supposed to do are tailored basically to stimulate that unused left hand and his brain, tying the right hand while playing with toys to force him to use the left, or tying the left hand to the walker to push him to grab it, there is also a lot of massaging involved to avoid the muscles to become stiff, although in the Health Center they use olive oil we were told about cheaper alternatives that work just as good. If the treatment is followed at home and she can be going to the center periodically to learn new exercises and have professionals assessing his situation, a sustainable solution for Mendi can be achieved, eventually she can start paying for the visits herself but it is a real burden to her to be paying those prices on Cameroonian terms (and on Tole village terms specially), and there is no government structure appropriately tackling the rights of the disabled.

What are the limits of Mendi? Will he be able to have full use of his left hand? To walk? To even talk? We cannot tell yet, but his limit has not been reached yet, not even close, due to inconsistent treatment in the past, and we ought to him and to you to keep doing everything to develop his brain at the fullest. In fact, the most positive note of this report, when we went to deliver the sewing goods to Aba’s place we were surprised by Mendi walking on his own pushing the walker one side and the other. After just two visits and a week of in-house treatment he picked up the process and was enjoying his newly discovered skill!

This is our final report, but it is not our last report, we hope to have a proper “you-changed-a-life” report eventually, we have faith on this girl as you had it too, and we are not backing off from the worst situations but pursuing them, this is what the job is about. We want to give you facts on how the economic situation of Aba evolves, on how Daniel improves and on how the whole family (grandmother, mother, two sisters and grandchild) keeps holding up and slowly pushing forward on this journey out of poverty. We will report back when we have substantial news.

Thank you for believing in her, and please keep doing it, we will not let you down.

We have to add also that today is Bonus Day and you can make donations to the parent project (the one that allow us to keep working with many girls like Aba) that will be increased by globalgiving by 30%. http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/make-an-impact-girls-education-cameroon/

Her little sister wanted to be in the picture
Her little sister wanted to be in the picture
Mendi using his walker on his own
Mendi using his walker on his own
Demonstrating massage. Mendi is not enjoying it
Demonstrating massage. Mendi is not enjoying it
Looking for comfort on his great-grandmother after
Looking for comfort on his great-grandmother after
And comforted only after a few seconds
And comforted only after a few seconds

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