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Thursday
Dec032009

Update from Doumbouo, and Keuleng Kid photos.

Today I made my long awaited return to Doumbouo. The keep the dust off (futile?) while on the back of the moto, I rode with my hood up, dropping it only when we reached the main carrefour that marks one’s arrival in the village. It is this moment, riding up the final hill to school, where I feel a little like a celebrity each time I return to Cameroon. Mamans waved and cheered and shouted my name from their market stalls, and the papas did the same from their stations at the scattering of local bars/boutiques. Needless to say, excitement exploded from the schoolrooms in the form of screeching children when we pulled up in front.

Breaking Ground’s approach of working with motivated communities with pre-establish project goals was modeled after Doumbouo. Our intent is only to finance projects that have already demonstrated measurable progress, thus ensuring their future sustainability. My return to Doumbouo today provided an encouraging reminder of the value in our methods.

In 2006, during our founding, we assisted the Parent Association of the primary school by improving upon the work they’d already begun: we cemented the classroom floors and walls, painted educational murals, and installed a water source and stair case. Across the street at the public high school, we built a public community library from the ground up with donations of books from two NGOs, ICA Canada and the African Library Project.

Today, the community in Doumbouo has not only succeeded in properly maintaining the primary school and public library, but they have gone so far as to continue improving and expanding the structures. The Parent Association funded the cement plastering of the primary school’s exterior, further improving its structural integrity. The high school is part-way through the construction of two restrooms, adjoined to the library. Furthermore, the Parent Association of the high school constructed two brand-new classrooms to accommodate a growing student body.

Library from the front, with new addition on right.

The new addition of bathrooms.

The new classroom building at the high school.

Perhaps most impressive of all were the numbers recording the library’s usage. The library now holds 2082 total volumes. The librarian records the number of students, teachers, and community members who arrive each day to use books from the collection (regardless of whether they check them out to bring home). During the 2007-2008 scholastic year, the library received 7,015 unique visits. In 2008-2009, the number rose to 10,179!

Part of the library's collection.

The Dewey Decimal system explained.

I’ll return to Doumbouo next week for a more extended visit with my primary school colleagues and the Parent Association.

For now, I leave you with some great shots of the kids in Keuleng.

Can we please pause to appreciate Samira’s t-shirt?

A pause from playing Frisbee to take advantage of the good light.

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