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Breaking Ground Turns Five!


On January 12, 2006, I stepped off a plane in Douala and was engulfed by the city’s thick humidity. I was fresh out of college, spoke mediocre French, and I had no idea that the months ahead of me would so profoundly change my life, or the lives of so many others.

For many of you, the story of what happened next is a familiar one. (Those of you who haven’t heard it can read it here and watch it here.) In short, I didn’t go to Cameroon to start Breaking Ground. Five years ago this past Friday, I sent an email out asking for donations to help Doumbouo’s primary school. I didn’t see the project as anything larger than itself: a way to help one community fulfill their dream of improving their children’s school. “Breaking Ground” was simply the name of the blog I’d created to tell my friends and family about the project and encourage them to contribute.

Donations began flooding in, and on January 31st, I learned that my parents had received over $1000 in just two days from our family members, friends, and neighbors. So when, exactly, was Breaking Ground born? For me, the moment is clear. Exactly five years ago today, sitting in a dusty, archaic “cyber” cafe, I opened my inbox to read that a colleague of my father’s, whom I had neither met nor heard of, was sending a check for $100. Suddenly, and to my surprise, the project in Doumbouo had grown beyond just a personal undertaking. By the merging of my host community’s enthusiasm and determination with the compassion and generosity of people who were, to me, perfect strangers, something bigger had begun. That something was Breaking Ground.

Five years ago, the news of that $100 donation reduced me to tears in the cyber. While a lot has changed since then, I am still touched by the news of every single contribution. Though we have received funding from two foundations, and are pursuing further grants, our community of individual donors is still the bedrock of the organization. As our circle of supporters grows to include individuals from all around the globe, we have begun to expand our work with new agricultural programs. In everything we do, our focus is long-term sustainability and grassroots community participation. We have big plans for the next five years.

For all we've done and all we hope to do, thank you for making our work possible.

On est ensemble (Together),

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