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...
Jan 13, 2017

It won't be easy, but she can do it.

Thank you!
Thank you!

Dear Donors,

Thank you for helping Elekta, this end of 2016 your helped proved to be not only useful and impactful, but potentially lifesaving.

Elekta started working with us on 2016, when she received training and a first grant to help on her business (she sells meat snacks in her village). We quickly saw that she was making a lot of money per week, and she saw it too and was very happy with it. She has been keeping such good records of her business that this November we asked her to train other girls on her technique, she did a great job and trained 20 Girls with our support.

But Elekta did not change her life just yet. She is a single mother taking care of her daughter and her elderly parents in a very humble house. She is also liable to her brothers, sisters and cousins who look up to her and often need her financial support. She was making a lot of money (in our context, about 35 dollars a week is quite a bit) in the book, but her profits were quickly used up by her family.

Moreover, something really bad had been happening all this while. The ill health of Elekta’s mother made her go to the hospital repeated times, the first time she got a grant (about fifty dollars), she had to use part of the business money to pay for the hospital fees, the grant just allowed her to keep with the business.

The second time she got a grant, her mother had an even worse crisis and she had to spent the second, bigger grant, and all her savings in hospital fees (about a hundred dollars). A third time came, both she and the mother fell sick, she quickly recovered but now she did not have anything. Every day she would walk to the hospital to see her mother, she could not afford to pay for any means of transportation. A hospital worker took pity on her and paid her due fees (20 dollars). Somebody like you that saw something in her worth supporting. Something terribly unfair about her situation. She kept doing everything right (Elekta did not miss a day of work, was good and kind to everybody, always kept a positive attitude), but she was still failing.

Our number one rule is “never use the business money”, and yet we know this rule is going to break and that there are many good reasons to break it. What would have you done in her situation? When a loved one's life is threatened there’s no business management training that is going to stop us from doing what we must do. We never questioned for a minute if we would continue supporting her.

Thanks to your support she and her family made it this far. Now this life of constant threat is gradually going to change. We have enough funds to keep monitoring and supporting Elekta for two years. What is the first step? We gave her a small grant (about 80 dollars) to get back on her feet, she started doing business again and bringing a healthy stream of income to the household. (she quickly multiplies whatever we give her) You must be thinking now that she or her mother will get sick again, and she will lose the money again. We share your frustration. This made us start a partnership with an experimental Mutual Health Program (managed by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with International Partners), this January we will register her and her family. For the next two years, she will only pay 25% of what she used to pay in case of any of such family emergencies. She inspired us to go further, throughout this year we will register at least another 50 of the girls we support with our program, this is less than 10 dollars per girl, in exchange of a security net which covers expenditures that can go as high as 380 dollars per year. Elekta has improved our approach. Now every time we support a girl to start a business, she will be safer and donations will be more impactful.

As her situation improves gradually, she will receive another two bigger sized grants (a total of about 400$) as she improves on her business and sets new goals, plus finally a business loan in a microfinance institution (about 600$). Throughout this 2 year process you will have helped her leave poverty forever. We hope you keep track of her through our reports in our main project, facebook and website.

“Thank you, god bless you, the money has really helped” She said during our last meeting. She has only received a fraction of what you have in store for her. 

Thank you again.

When she received her first grant.
When she received her first grant.
Training other girls on bookkeeping!
Training other girls on bookkeeping!
Showing us her promising cashbook
Showing us her promising cashbook
Receiving her last grant (corner up/right)
Receiving her last grant (corner up/right)

Links:

Dec 29, 2016

Thank you for this 2016

Girveline giving her graduation speech
Girveline giving her graduation speech

Dear donors,

You’ve closed 2016 with grand style.

  • 20 more new girls trained and supported this November.
  • A meeting with 2-year long beneficiaries in a microfinance institution, to facilitate their access to loans.
  • 3 bigger grants given, one transformed into a loan of 600$! (we paid the opening of an account in that microfinance institution)
  • Also, an exciting 200% bonus to anybody who signs for monthly donations is available! Tell your friends!

This is a lot of information, so we will only focus on the first part in this report and you will know more about the rest this January. We also want to take the opportunity to share with you what we think we can do this 2017, if you keep trusting us.

This November 2016 we began selection of 20 more girls to join the program. This did not require any door-to-door work as in the past because we have already been identifying potential girls while doing our follow-up work in the community. Also, community stakeholders (the traditional authorities, 2 women groups, a small local NGO and even some of the old girls, as you learned from Renata in last report) have provided some additional names, and others were trained and registered during the Innovation Challenge this August. (check it out!). Like Remy, a young single mother of 19 years who fixes clothes and zips for a living. She will be starting a second-hand clothes business with your help, a first step to something bigger. It’s striking to see somebody so young to have such entrepreneurial capacity, she also had a great proposal during the Innovation Challenge.

You might be already familiar with this: We train first, we give a first small grant and do 1on1 coaching during the following weeks and months, after we give a bigger grant if they have proven to be constant and follow the bookkeeping, that’s the start. The first 2 steps were done this November and early December, giving out 20 grants of 30,000 francs, a total of about 1000 dollars USD in grants in one day in the Chiefdom Hall for everybody to see. It was a big day in the community and for us.

“The chiefdom is part of this project, and we will be following-up each one of you alongside Reach Out. We will do our separate follow-up. This is Christmas period, avoid temptation, use the money for your business, we are all responsible for the image of the village” Said the representative of the chief of the village.

The core of the training was similar to this March’s training (here) except for key insights that came from self-evaluation: Smaller (20, not 40) and shorter is better, focusing on key messages and assimilating them. This time more practice and no long talks. We facilitated, tried for them to come up with the answers and hand out none. We have a culture of constant evaluation, most of what we did in March was great, and yet we decided to change much of it, because it could be better. It was great to see the girls question and answer each other and interact on how to improve on their business propositions, and we still learn a lot from them.

We love teaching bookkeeping, but we knew somebody that could teach it better. Somebody with their same voice and perspective. The girls that had succeeded at doing it! We called on Elekta, who was supported this March and again this August (and has a small fully-funded microproject for her because of her relentless drive and strength! ) to come to the training and explain how she does it. She was a bit nervous at first but later on relaxed and did a great job, we hope to keep repeating. With time, we have learned to talk less and less, our job is to make their voices be heard, not ours.

The core of the training (bookkeeping, coming up with a business and short business plans) is complemented by two lessons (one each day) on Gender Based Violence and Sexual Reproductive Health. Reach Out Cameroon has a holistic approach and we believe in the synergies between Health, Human Rights and Economic Development. We were lucky to have staff from other departments to come and do the talks for us, and the girls loved it. In a community with high rates of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, the talk was highly necessary. 120 condoms were distributed, and more will be distributed as we do our 1on1 coaching sessions during the following weeks.

This has been a great year for this project, you have directly and meaningfully supported 52 girls, more than in the last 3 years combined (and with bigger grant sizes!). When you reflect on what you have achieved this year, don’t forget all the lives you continue to change here. 2017 will be the year to expand to another community, and we aim to help at least 80 girls! We know it won't be the same, as we have an exceptional relationship with the community in Tole, we have a few challenges ahead of us, but we know the program is good, and it's time to start helping more people. We hope you can trust us with your support.

As the girls took their 30,000 francs (50 dollars grants) they all made their short speeches, this is my favorite one:

“I’m not here for this money, I’m here for the 50,000 to come 3 months from now, when you see how much I’ve worked on my business, and to make myself out of poverty forever.“ Fokanji (19 years)

It’s been a pleasure to work for them.

 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Have a great 2017, you deserve it.

 

P.D: No better way to support them than a monthly donation, these donations, no matter the size, give us the security to plan ahead. Also, if you sign up for a monthly donation GlobalGiving gives another donation 2 times the size, as a bonus! Sign up here:

P.D2: Our website is back ! Browse through it and give us your feedback! Our first blog post talks about this project and the story of Marie, the girl that just took the 600$ loan, but you can also get to know more about what Reach Out Cameroon is all about: Health, Human Rights, Governance, Gender Equality, Sustainable Agriculture.. a rich story of 20 years of work for the underprivileged!

Remy
Remy
Sexual Health Lesson
Sexual Health Lesson
Marie with her baby and writing her business plan
Marie with her baby and writing her business plan
writing their business plans
writing their business plans
Thank you! More and better in 2017!
Thank you! More and better in 2017!

Links:

Dec 16, 2016

Building the School of Hope

Dear Donors,

These past months several things have been happening in the orphanage. The first one, the school project is growing, form hiring a teacher to save some nursery school fees a year ago, to having more than 30 students and four classrooms, benefitting also other destitute children of the community. They have big dreams of building a cemented classroom, and we want to help them with our latest microproject!

A local donor has made a donation of 1,000,000 francs CFA (about 2000$) to secure the education of the children one more year! As you see you are not alone, many of us, from different backgrounds and with our different means, believe and continue to believe in Mah Di’s orphanage.

You won’t be surprised to know that there’s a new income-generating activity in the orphanage, snail rearing! And as usual all the children are involved in the maintenance of the snailery, with about 2000 snails. This is a local delicacy much appreciated that can be sold at good prices during the dry season, as it’s rare in markets during this period. Poultry and piggery keep on expanding and even the fishpond gave its first harvest! A small stream of profits and agricultural outputs are entering the orphanage, all thanks to you and Mah Di. We were happy to assist them technically, as Reach Out Cameroon is also rearing snails.

These past weeks Mah Diana, Charles (18, one of the leaders of the orphanage) and ourselves have been discussing the possibility of the orphanage taking on direct communication with you, the donor. While it is still a learning process, we have decided that from now on it will be Mah Diana, assisted by the older orphans and ourselves, who will be writing reports and thank you letters. We also wrote together the new micro-project, to build a solid and properly equipped classroom, Check it out !

We think this is a great step and we are excited to try it out, they are more than able to communicate with you directly, using their own voices. We think this will also be good for you, so you will get the opportunity to know them better. Finally, this is the most sustainable strategy, we want them to continue raising money for decades, and eventually when they are ready, they should be able to enter GlobalGiving themselves as an entity of their own right.

Moreover, if this experience is successful we plan to train two more orphanages over 2017 to also enter GlobalGiving with us and fundraise for themselves! We have learned a lot working for Mah Di’s (and through the GlobalGiving Ambassadors project we have been running for GlobalGiving this year) and it’s time to extend our impact to more children in need.

Thank you for trusting them, you will have the next report by late January.

 

Reminder: GlobalGiving is matching any recurring donation by 200%! for just a few days !sign in for a monthly donation of let's say 20 dollars and we will get an extra 40!

the school room as it is now
the school room as it is now
Ua left us. She
Ua left us. She's been reunited with her family
Meeting - Discussing our page management
Meeting - Discussing our page management
The piggery has grown a lot!
The piggery has grown a lot!
 
   

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