Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon

by Open Dreams
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Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
Empower Higher Education for Scholars in Cameroon
An excited Open Dreams Scholar navigating the fiel
An excited Open Dreams Scholar navigating the fiel

It is always a great delight to report back to those who believe in and support us; those who, through their donations, make our field work possible.

While the challenges of 2021 were incredibly overwhelming due to the covid-19 pandemic and total disruption in travel, Our scholars and team members dedicated more time to intensive work, thanks to the emergence of technology to support remote working and networking. We have been able to build more partnerships with institutions like CORE Africa (www.coreafrica.org), the UREGA Foundation (urega.org), Ashesi University and the Ashinaga Africa Program which permits Japanese Students to take internship programs in Cameroon during the summer. Within Cameroon, we have fortified our engagements and collaboration with the Ministries in charge of Education and Universities which shall ease the mentorship process for promising graduates who demonstrate leadership and civic engagment. Above all, our flagship program, the Aviva Women in Science Fund promotes university research work in the area of supporting maternal and child health.

For the first time, we are expanding our mentorship program to accomodate french-speaking students and refugees, following requirements form partner institutions which support these students though new opportunities.

Also for the first time, a grant from the US Embassy Yaounde permitted us to work with 150 secondary education teachers on the use of instructional technology, strengthening their capacity to deliver lessons online. This initiative also empowers the teachers to support our scholars adequately in the field.

We have already launched our Summer Academy Applications and are looking forward to taking twice the number of pre-scholars we take yearly. One of the most exciting things this year is that there shall be an online mentorship platform, Project Moon, accessible to all deserving students anywhere on the globe. It's been months of weekly meeting making these plans to come to reality.

We also celebrate a record number of admissions of our scholars to Ivy League Universities from Havard to Standford to Oxford to Dartmouth etc at both the graduate and undergraduate level on full funding.

Currently, we have our scholars reaching out in the field and inspiring the community in the pursuit of academic excellence and community engagement. we also actively participate in community events and continue to grow our capacity to hold scholars together - for team work makes the dream work. We are reaching new frontiers and creating pathways for more people to pursue their dreams. We currently run an increasingly well-structured mentorship for graduate students, and at the moment a weeklong mentorship program is running for those applying for the Fulbright Scholarship Programs, with topnotch academics delivering quality mentorship across the board. Within Cameroon, we are proud to be one of the leading mentorship organizations.

We are incredily happy that together, we are achieving all of these. We look forward to more engagments

Open Dreams Scholars at the National Symposium
Open Dreams Scholars at the National Symposium
Mentorship -providing information on opportunities
Mentorship -providing information on opportunities
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Mentors and Scholars after an evaluation meeting
Mentors and Scholars after an evaluation meeting

It's another great opportunity to reach out with words of thanks to you all who make our work possible through donations. Last summer was extra-ordinary; not only did we have more experts participating in our summer academy - we also did the best selection of students, refined the curriculum and re-started our program in Bamenda, Cameroon, a zone we had left in hibernation due to the armed struggle that had rocked the region since late 2016. In total, 50 young Cameroonians at the level of the high school benefitted from the very intensive summer training program, which ran programs from entrepreneurial leadership to community volunteering and technological solutions challenge (hackathons). Today, most of the scholars are engaged in their applications to college while a handful of that number already got full scholarships to top universities within Africa and the rest of the world.

During the summer, there were several community-immersion programs during which Open Dreams Scholars had a chance to volunteer while honing their leadership skills.

Particularly;

- alongside "Game Changers", a community-based organization, they took part in "Climate Action" activities which involved planting trees, cleaning up the communities and carrying out education on the preservation of the environment;

- they took part in a Technology Innovation Challenge, which brought together young tech geniuses from across Cameroon to pitch their startups, learn how to upgrade their prototypes etc. They also enrolled into a tech mentorship program that is planned to run for years;

- they organized, for university students, a tech competition titled "PremierDev Technology Solution Challenge". This challenge entailed exposing technology solutions they had designed to tackle local community challenges. Several groups of students from universities across the country participated. A 6 week boot camp later followed. This is one of the independent initiatives led by Open Dreams Scholars, who have benefit from leadership opportunities offered by the Open Dreams mentorship program;

- Open Dreams Scholars reached out with assistance in books and handouts to internally displaced students within the country, encouraging them to return to school. This operation was conducted in three regions in Cameroon, with over 300 students benefitting from enough material to go to school for a whole academic year.

- Open Dreams Scholars organized 3 week skills-development programs to 150 internally displaced young females, empowering them to engage in socio-economic activities which keep them safe and less vulnerable to exploitation from the society.

- we had partnerships with new institutions among them the Ashinaga Africa Initiative and most recently 'special consultative status’ with the UN's Economic and Social Council.

- we support and continue to support more dreamers by hosting them in our Yaoundé center, where we provide safe spaces for them to continue to pursue their dreams. We pay particular attention to young girls who have been excelling at Open Dreams, and doing exceedingly well in the STEM programs.

We have conquered new grounds, with scholars going into universities we had no scholars there before. More graduate scholars are getting great opportunities – medical doctors are leading in this professional development endeavor.

This December, we plan to re-organize Open Dreams to create more room for committees in which scholars put their leadership to work through volunteering. We continue to seek more funding for our growing programs and outreach which has seen greater community dependence on our programs. Thank you all for making the work possible through your generous donations, for which we are extremely grateful. We are truly indebted to you. We hope to continue to cover more grounds. Thank you for your unrelenting support. Together, we broaden our support base, as we continue our mission to equalize access to educational opportunities for community impact

The Girls have found a safe niche for their dreams
The Girls have found a safe niche for their dreams
Graduate Students enriching the scholar experience
Graduate Students enriching the scholar experience
Family moments before flights
Family moments before flights
Trauma Support - discussing female resilience
Trauma Support - discussing female resilience
Girls in STEM
Girls in STEM
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The Open Dreams Girls are excelling
The Open Dreams Girls are excelling

A few months back, the Covid-19 pandemic created an enormous scare and shut down many of our traditional channels of education and operations. This placed quite some strain on our resources and programs. With determination to sail through the tides with our heads up, we embraced distance education technology, took basic hygienic measures, upgraded our Internet bandwidth accommodating more students taking online classes at our center while also hosting some of them for long periods of time. We also empowered units of Open Dreams Across Cameroon at the regional levels to reach out to those in grave situation and provide mentorship and educational support, reviving and sustaining hope for the future. The field operations were very successful. We forged partnerships with other organizations and the working atmosphere has been excellent this far.

We continue to support high-achieving low-income Open Dreams Scholars, assisting them with mentorship and cost related to establishing passports, taking tests, paying university application fee, travel and feeding for those moving to the Open Dreams Center to complete their applications or take standardized tests etc. Over the past three months, 21 Open Dreams Scholars have been awarded scholarships to study their dream programs in some of the top universities across the world. In all, scholarship funding for their programs from institutions exceeds $400,000.

We have also stepped up social programs, reaching out to IDPs and providing training to empower young girls and aspiring dreamers to a level where they can then continue with the relay baton. Over 50 people who fall in this category have directly benefited from skill-acquisition programs through our scholars.

Last April 2021, we hosted two major national tech events, which brought budding tech geniuses from secondary, high schools and universities to pitch their projects, gain training and also gain some seed funding. The events were organized by Open Dreams Scholars with the full support of Open Dreams. We also deeply participated in many other external events including the World Environment Day Events, Commonwealth day celebrations etc where we contributed in some way (financially, materially and academically) to make the day colorful.

At this point, almost all of our dedicated 2020 Scholars have got scholarships. We are opening up space to recruit more scholars for a summer boot camps that run from July 19th 2021 to August 30th 2021. This time, we are targeting the hometown of Open Dreams in Cameroon - Bamenda, where operations were suspended last year and our center when into hibernation due to the fragile social climate in that area. Hence, we shall run the boot camp in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon and the regional headquarters of the North West, Bamenda. Besides that, we are also following up and participating in other parallel programs run in Yaoundé and Buea in partnership with other organizations, one of them a holidy reading camp. All these programs are empowering the youth and helping them realize their dreams to become successful citizens, in line with the SDGs.

These achievements would not be possible without your constant support. Thank you for standing by us and for making it happen in the lives of many young dreamers. We count on your support to assist in human capital development and building resilience for rapid reactions to global challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bamenda Center regains steam
The Bamenda Center regains steam
Open Dreams Regular Mentorship Session
Open Dreams Regular Mentorship Session
Open Dreams Scholars visiting a school
Open Dreams Scholars visiting a school
Seminar with teachers who support our Scholars
Seminar with teachers who support our Scholars
The Open Dreams Team visiting a university
The Open Dreams Team visiting a university
Resilience
Resilience
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For this round of reporting, we share the brief story of an Internally Displaced Scholar, Victorine, who is originally from Kumbo, a fairly remote area in Cameroon, but based in Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon, which is a safe zone. On the recommendation of another Open Dreams Scholar, she reached out to the office of the non-profit. Despite her displacement with the accompanying challenges, she had not given up on educational pursuits. She had earlier been offered a scholarship at the African Leadership University, Rwanda to study Computer Science, and was required to submit a passport for travel by January 5th 2021. Besides being an IDP, she is also from a very low-income family. For months ever since being notified of the scholarship offer, she could not afford money for the passport. Her scholarship was thus at stake, since she could not meet up on time with getting a passport. When she reached out to us and explained her financial situation, we took some time to conduct background checks to be sure that the family truly could not afford the money. After a good conclusion, we got her to Yaounde, the capital city of Cameroon, and went for the passport. Two days later, she returned to the Open Dreams Center with the passport. She had already sent a scanned copy to the school. She saw her dreams coming through/true. Today, she is safely in school in Rwanda studying, with hopes for a better tomorrow. Being a female, she might even make so much more out of the tech-study opportunity. School should not only be for the rich. That's why our mission is to equalize access to educational opportunities. "It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another." - Mandela

A year ago, Open Dreams committed to rebranding some of the support offered to scholars, under "Exploring Beyond infinity", which is a slogan used by one of our scholars. This round so far, we have:

- had some outstanding graduate students take the GRE;

- paid more application fee at the Graduate level;

-sponsored a record number of students for the SAT;

-supported many pre-scholars from different towns in Cameroon for them to travel to Yaounde, with transport, lodging and feeding taken care of as they complete applications to colleges etc;

-invested more on providing access to the internet for many including those carrying on online studies at the Open Dreams Centre with streaming that consumes heavy data;

- established passports for 10 other scholars, meeting some set goals.

Open Dreams is home to many longing for educational opportunities with the desire to win together by maximizing the resources available and giving back over time to assist more people. Last December, we organized many outreach programs in the community which involved voluntering and visits to the hospital. Our Centers in Bamenda and Yaounde all in Cameroon continue to provide quality mentorship to scholars, pulling in some of the best mentors and accomplished leaders, to impact the rising scholars. We had yet the highest number of scholars obtain scholarshps last year and the earlier part of this 2021 - about 35 to date and counting. We have also mulitiplied outreach to many schools as well as our professional development programs for educators in collaboration with support international organizations in the same area of operation.

A lot of the great work we do is beautifully captured on our Facebook page  - https://www.facebook.com/opendreamsforall . We would not have been able to do this much without your donations. From our hearts, we express our deep thanks. We pray for your continuous support, so we can reach out to more people in need of mentorship support in their journey to self-discovery and dreams-actualization.

 #Ubuntu

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Open Dreams Country Director, speaking to Scholars
Open Dreams Country Director, speaking to Scholars

It’s been a momentous season for us from creating an enabling environment to accommodate our scholars taking lessons online, to launching the 2020 summer academy and also getting set to organizing a Premier Summit for Graduate Students from all over Cameroon, with many organizations taking part. These are breath-taking activities in unprecedented times, as we mark our first anniversary in Yaounde at the center you all contributed for us to set up. Thank You!

Generally as each year ends, our scholars who succeeded in securing scholarships travel out, creating space for the incoming cohort. This year is different. Not only do we have to continue hosting them and ensuring that they have utilities like unlimited broadband internet access for their online lessons, we also have many relocating from regions hit by the crisis in Cameroon to Yaounde where we oversee their daily welfare. This means we need more laptops, more safe and conducive space for them to stay focused on their studies without having to compete over resources with the incoming cohort of students. This year, we have had yet the highest number of applications to our summer academy, with many people investing so much hope in getting a spot. We want to be as helpful as much as we can to those who really put in much in the realization of their dreams and to the internally displaced, especially the young girls with big dreams who are a thrill. Our mentorship program has become very popular and there is an urgency for us to expand our capacity.

For the past months:

-10 of our scholars have taken the SAT and 20 + more will be taking the test in October and December 2020; -5 Graduate Scholars took the GRE and the Toefl and 10 more are due to take the GRE in the days ahead while 50 will be taking the Duolingo Test;

- 5 of our scholars acquired the National ID Card with the process expedited, 16 of them acquired new international passports, 10 booked visa interviews;

-We have continued to provide excellent mentorship and leadership programs to our scholars at the center, including organizing a Mandela Day, participating in many webinars and inviting leaders in the community to interact with the scholars. These activities are reported on our blog www.open-dreams.org/blog and our Facebook Page, https://web.facebook.com/opendreamsforall which captures the best of our daily pace of activities;

-Our Scholars have been active in the field, assisting in providing humanitarian supplies, covid-19 response in terms of education and provision of Face Masks and hand sanitizers, providing medical care and conducting research and working on peace building initiatives for greater cohesion in the community ravaged in some parts by conflict which is creating a humanitarian crises. Much of these are reported on our blog.

-We have hosted a seminar organized by the Cameroon Fulbright TEA Alumni on Competences of an Inclusive Teacher leader for STEM Educators;

-Open Dreams Scholars have featured on the National Television (CRTV) and Radio 7 times, talking about access to Education. This is exceptional. Open Dreams Scholars and the team launched an EducationFirst Campaign to get more schools to re-open in the crisis hit-zones of Cameroon where schools have been shut down for the past 4 years. As another academic looms, we are stepping up the initiative.

-Our Scholars have been involved in many fronts, teaching the underprivileged in the neighbourhoods and sustaining learning; We also conducted research on how Cameroon is coping with Distance Education Processes. The findings were published and we are now looking forward to implementing a training program for teachers with the sponsorship of the US Embassy, Yaounde - Cameroon. This is only one of four other projects we shall participate in, all sponsored by the US Embassy, Yaounde. Thank you for helping us to build our capacities to attain this level which requires greater engagement.

 

Going forward;

-We need more resources to support our growing pool of scholars who are highly ambitious. Precisely, we need more laptops, more chairs, tables, more space for lessons and hostels;

-We also need more resources for the summer academy and our graduate summit and to continue supporting students across the country, who might not have the opportunity to be in Yaounde.

-We need to pay for more educational technology including upgrading our website to accomodate more interactive features and resources that the public can utilize;

-The capacity to host more teachers in training programs and hosting seminars for community actors who inspire our scholars.

-We need support to provide for IDPs who are outstanding in Academics at the end of our summer academy, and more. Your donations will continue to impact the most promising and the most vulnerable; it will continue to transform lives.

Thank you for supporting our cause. The best legacy is to impact more lives around you and we are lucky to feel your impact. Thank you!

Open Dreams Scholars in a session
Open Dreams Scholars in a session
Open Dreams Scholars at a Seminar
Open Dreams Scholars at a Seminar
Boys ready to move into the community for action
Boys ready to move into the community for action
Scholars volunteering in the community
Scholars volunteering in the community
Happy Open Dreams Scholars
Happy Open Dreams Scholars
Getting ready for the field to volunteer
Getting ready for the field to volunteer

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Organization Information

Open Dreams

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Hans Kullberg
Washington, DC United States
$16,545 raised of $20,000 goal
 
188 donations
$3,455 to go
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