The staff and volunteers welcoming me
My name is Meg Dallett, and I’m an In the Field intern with GlobalGiving in Cameroon this summer. I’m traveling around the country visiting all the GlobalGiving-partnered NGOs, and I’m writing this postcard to pass on some of what I’ve seen to the donors who have given to this organization.
“Children are children, no matter their color or their confession,” says Maimo Jacob S., Founder and Board Chairman of Knowledge for Children. He wants Cameroonian children to get the same level of education as children in America and Europe, and since starting his NGO in 2005 he’s already gotten over 22,000 children a little closer to that goal. As a teacher, he’d seen the difficulties kids in Cameroon face—their schools have few or no books, they have little understanding of how to prevent disease, and they’re expected to spend their time off working rather than reading. So when he began buying books for schools, the feedback from the community was so positive that he built Knowledge for Children (KforC) to expand the program and make it a yearly part of children’s lives in and around the town of Kumbo.
This year, they started their project to educate children on preventing HIV/AIDS and malaria, since as Program Officer Mark Chaffee pointed out, “a healthy mind can only be in a healthy body.” Coordinators (who are drawn from local volunteers and a few Peace Corps staff members) run weekly Health Clubs at schools, combating persistent misinformation and encouraging the kids to ask questions and think critically about how to protect themselves. The clubs use discussions, books and games, and encourage the children to talk about what they’re learning with their parents as well. Later this year they’re hoping to work with district health officers to bring in local nurses for the kids, many of whom have never had a check-up in their lives.
The kids love it—staff members pointed out that reading and open discussion isn’t something many children have a lot of opportunities for elsewhere. KforC gives them a chance to learn in an environment that doesn’t feel like school (which is more about rote memorization than asking questions anyway).
Besides the disease prevention program, KforC has two other projects: the original schoolbook distribution program and a workshop series called “structural and knowledge exchange.” They’re currently running these two programs at 95 schools around the Northwest Region, and have far more applications than they can keep up with. Photos of excited groups of schoolchildren receiving their books cover the wall, as well as shots of their parents singing and dancing beside them to welcome KforC. The founder tells me they are “results-oriented,” and they’ve got proof: last year, schools in the KforC program had 10% higher pass rates than the regional average. The difference was even higher in rural Donga Mantung division, where KforC schools passed 73% of students (compared to 59% for the division as a whole). 23 of their 66 schools scored a 100% pass rate, which is astronomical in this area. Now that they’re up to 95 schools, this year’s results should be even better.
I was incredibly impressed with their approach to the work: they’ve done surveys on attitudes and risk factors, consulted with teachers and traditional leaders, and currently carry out a huge amount of monitoring to make sure programs are making a difference. Their Peace Corps volunteers couldn’t tell me enough about how organized, effective and transparent KforC is.
The staff was very excited about their experience with GlobalGiving so far-- they tell me there was a celebration when they made it through the Open Challenge and officially joined the site! They’re looking forward to reaching more donors and maybe using GlobalGiving to fundraise for their schoolbook distribution program as well. From what I’ve seen, I have very little doubt that they’ll be successful at that too.