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State of the Union

This June, Breaking Ground is the featured program of Dining for Women, a dinner circle that aims to empower women and girls through collective giving. Over the course of the month, chapters around the country will meet to share a meal, learn about our work in Cameroon, and make donations to support Breaking Ground's Women's Empowerment Program in the Lebialem Valley.

Breaking Ground was founded with a vision of creating concrete change through connecting communities across cultures, so I look forward to sharing stories about Cameroon and our work with the Dining for Women members.

In preparation for the month, one Dining for Women chapter leader asked me to summarize Breaking Ground's current position. As we are yet to finish our Annual Report for 2012, here is an abbreviated, “state of the union” for Breaking Ground in June of 2013.

Current projects:

We have three main activities underway: the Women’s Entrepreneurial Program in Dschang, the Baleveng Water Project, and the Investing in Agriculture program in the villages of Bechati, Bangang, Folepi, Nkong, and Lewoh, which includes a Women’s Entrepreneurial Program especially designed to meet the needs of an agricultural population. The funds raised by Dining for Women this month will all go towards this second Women’s Entrepreneurial Program in the southwest.

Colette Kopa, one of our loan recipients, in the doorway of her tailor shop

The Baleveng Water Project is well underway, and we hope the construction element will be completed in June. To learn more about the importance of this project, please read our quotes from women of the community and to see current progress, please visit the project's flickr album.

Success stories:

In 2008 Breaking Ground partnered with the F4 communities to build the Menuet River Bridge. This March these communities gathered together to complete maintenance of the road leading to the bridge. It is wonderful to see the bridge that we built being so well taken care of and to see all members of the community involved. This continued engagement and community spirit is a perfect example of why we partnered with these villages in the first place and why we emphasize the importance of community-initiated projects.

The F4 communities working together to maintain the road 

Last month, in collaboration with the Research Institute for Development (RIDEV), we hosted our first leadership training workshop in the southwest valley. Forty people from five different villages showed up for the day-long seminar. More than three years ago, Breaking Ground and RIDEV had the idea that RIDEV’s capacity-building experience could be combined with our financing and project management resources to provide a holistic community development approach. It is very satisfying to see that seed of an idea come to fruition, and I hope it is just the beginning.

Our first leadership workshop


As we grow our programs, we are also growing the infrastructure to support those programs. In June we are welcoming a new, full-time executive director. This will increase our fundraising capacity and make sure that all our programs have the careful oversight and evaluation that they need to deliver measurable results. Additionally, over the last year we completed the long and arduous process of becoming officially registered in Cameroon. This will enable us to partner more widely in Cameroon and increase our visibility. It also means that now, in addition to the salaries, office space, and utilities that we already paid each year, we must pay taxes in Cameroon.

Looking forward:

Over the coming months, we intend to carry out a full evaluation of our Women’s Entrepreneurial Program in Dschang. Now in its third year, this program has been very popular in Dschang, and we hope to replicate the model in other cities soon.

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