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Monday
Sep172007

Work continues in Cameroon!

Great news!  Breaking Ground has been approved as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity.  What does that mean?  Effective March 4, 2007, all donations are fully tax deductible.

Furthermore, check out the work of our first official Ground Coordinator, Sarah Oxford, at her own blog: www.breaking-ground.org/oxford.

Thank you for all your support, and please, keep checking in!

On est ensemble,
Lindsay

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Grassroots, Sustainability, Community
www.breaking-ground.org

Sunday
Oct292006

Exciting News!

Once again, I am writing to you from Portland, Maine. Though Breaking Ground's projects in Cameroon are currently on hold, there has been a lot of exciting change brewing. This past weekend, we held our first ever "board meeting" in Weekapaug, Rhode Island for what will soon be our very own incorporated public charity. What does that mean? Soon your donations to us will be tax deductible. What else does it mean? We're sending our first official "ground coordinator" (aka volunteer) back to Cameroon this August! This post is just to let you know that a lot of big changes are happening. Our web page will be going through some transformations, so keep checking in for new photos and information. And most of all, spread the word!

If you would like to make a contribution, please write a check to Lindsay Clarke and send it to:

Breaking Ground - Cameroon
c/o Corky Clarke
218 Lansdowne Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087

If you would like to ensure that your donation is made after our official incorporation (thus making it tax deductible), please post-date your check for December 20, 2006. I will post a message as soon as we are fully operating as a public charity.

Thanks for all your support, and again, keep checking in!

-Lindsay

Sunday
Sep102006

How things have changed!  Since my last update (which was far too long ago), another huge change took place in Doumbouo.  Our fundraising efforts for the public library in Doumbouo were fruitful.  On June 11th, we started construction of the new building and only a month and a half later, on July 29th, the library was inaugurated Bibliothèque Publique Lindsay Clarke de Bafou-Sud.  Your final donations permitted us to put all the finishing touches on the facility.  Our construction crew installed a ceiling under the aluminum roofing sheets, painted both the interior and exterior of the building, and constructed several tables, benches, and sets of chairs, complete with a miniature table and set of benches for the children's corner.  Our devoted volunteer librarians registered, catalogued, labeled, sorted, and shelved over five hundred books.  A special thanks to our many American friends who collected and mailed books and school supplies!  I cannot thank you, the contributors, enough for making this final project such a success.  The progress we made together is encouraging – and we don't plan on stopping here.

The other big change: I am back in the United States.  Although I am sad to be gone from Cameroon, I am continuing to work in cooperation with friends in Cameroon and several other SIT Cameroon alums, including Sarah Oxford and Brendan Schwartz.  We are in the process of submitting for our official non-profit status so we can continue to execute projects like those in Doumbouo.  The benefit to you, the contributors, is that your donations will be tax-deductible.  Our first official organizational meeting is approaching, and by the New Year, we hope to be preparing to send our next "Breaking Ground" volunteer to Cameroon to start a new project.

In the meantime, those of us involved in the organization (namely myself and my brother, Matt) are settling into new homes and new jobs.  Keep an eye out next week for new pictures and updates to the webpage: www.breakinggroundcameroon.org.  Within the next two weeks, pictures of the library and detailed financial reports will be posted for you to view.  Thank you for your patience as we get organized, and most importantly, thank you for your involvement!  I will probably never get the chance to thank all of you in person, but please know how much your contributions are appreciated.  None of this would have happened without your compassion and generosity.

Please feel free to contact me at any time with questions about the projects or suggestions about running this new organization.

Grand merci!

-Lindsay

           

Thursday
Jul132006

Final weeks in Cameroon!

Hi Everyone,

 

This past Tuesday, July 11th, marked six months since my arrival in Cameroon in January.   I have less than three weeks left before I fly out of Douala and leave behind friends and communities that I will miss terribly.  Although it makes me sad to think about leaving behind friends, families, colleagues, students, and the town and village I have called home here, it is satisfying to know that I am leaving behind some concrete changes that won't be forgotten.   Thanks to the donations of over 70 individuals and families, I will be leaving behind a well, 6 cemented classrooms, a cement staircase and accompanying flagpole, a water faucet, repaired school buildings, several beautiful murals, and last but certainly not least, a brand new library stocked with wonderful, donated books.

 

To those of you who have helped with these projects, I cannot thank you enough for your efforts.   These last few weeks will be full of celebrating.  On July 22nd, the village elites and chiefs are throwing a formal ceremony to acknowledge the work that we have done.   On July 29th, just days before I fly to France, we are inaugurating the new library in the presence of several big-time government officials.

 

But despite being almost done with my time here, work is still in progress.   One month ago we "broke ground" on the construction of the new library, and the essential work will be finished by the end of this week.  The library looks great: sturdy, cemented walls, large spacious windows, and great working and storage space.   Unfortunately, however, there are many finishing touches that we lack the funds to complete.

 

At this point, the library construction has cost approximately 2,500,000 f CFA (less than $5000 dollars).   I am writing this email to see if we can pull together the funds necessary to complete a few final steps.  Here are our goals:

-           Right now, the library rooms have no ceiling.  Under the bare, aluminium roofing, the library has a feeling somewhat like a warehouse.   A ceiling is important not only because it gives the room as more comfortable feel, but also because it protects the books from moisture that is likely to seep in through the gaps in the aluminium roofing.   Though the library is still better constructed than many buildings here in Cameroon, an additional $300 to $600 would allow us to install a ceiling.   $300 would fund the installation of a bamboo ceiling while $600 would allow us to use sturdy plywood and beams.  To give you an idea of the specific costs, a piece of plywood costs about 3,000 f CFA (less than $6) when bought in gross and we would buy approximately 50 pieces, plus 50 lateral beams at about $2 each to support the plywood.

-           Similar to the work done in the classrooms across the street, the new library's walls have been cemented and look great.   By Thursday, the floor will have been cemented and the building will be structurally complete (besides the ceiling).  Dark cement walls, however, are not ideal in a library.   We would like to paint the walls with at least a coat of whitewash, but ideally a coat of oil paint.  Two tubs of whitewash (approximately $20 each) would probably do the trick, and three tubs of oil paint (approximately $80 each) would be incredible.   Add to that the cost of brushes and dilutant, and $350 would probably cover the cost of painting.

-           Finally, there are finishing touches such as sturdy tables and chairs, posters, blackboards, and maybe even a small carpet for a "kiddy korner."   I hardly expect to be able to leave the library with much more than the basic necessities, but it would be great to leave the community of Doumbouo with a library that is as complete and furnished as we could hope for.   Chairs and tables are relatively inexpensive and the more money we have, the better quality we can afford.

 

To those of you who have already donated, thank you so much.   All I ask of you is that you pass the word along!  For those of you who haven't contributed yet, please consider making a contribution now.  Just remember that even a donation of $10 can go a LONG way here.  By giving up something simple like a meal in a restaurant, a six-pack of beer, or an item of new clothing, you can help build something here in Cameroon that will benefit a whole community and last for decades.   Though I only have three weeks left, that is plenty of time to put a PayPal or even paper check contribution to good use.  If you do send a paper check by mail, please let me know via email so we can take into account your contribution before the check arrives.   If you have questions, PLEASE ask.  And spread the word!  All the success we have had thus far has been because of the generosity of people like you and the willingness of people to tell their friends and families.

 

I look forward to hearing from you.  Thank you for everything you have done so far!

 

Sincerely,

Lindsay

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www.breakinggroundcameroon.org

Saturday
Jun032006

Since the last update, "Breaking Ground Cameroon" has turned into more than just the name of a blog.   Breaking Ground is now headed on its way to becoming a real, official "organization."  As much as it pains me to join the ranks of non-governmental organizations (too many of which are bogged down by bureaucratic disorder and inefficiency, not to mention problematic "development" practices), if we do succeed in obtaining status as a non-profit foundation, your donations will be tax-deductible.   Our main objective is to stay small and personal, to realize our projects on a people-to-people level, and to make sure that the projects we help fund are initiated by the communities they benefit.   If you're reading this blog now, you should also check out our webpage, www.breakinggroundcameroon.org .

 

For those of you who have already visited the webpage, this blog will give you more and different information.   Read back through previous entries to learn about the projects that we have already finished.  You'll also get a more personal view of things here.

 

PLEASE, spread the word about the projects we are doing.  We are currently trying to raise enough money to start the construction of a public library in Doumbouo, and every penny counts.   Also, feel free to contact me with any questions you might have.

 

Thanks,

Lindsay



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www.breakinggroundcameroon.org