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New Web Site

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Update from Doumbouo

Once again, this blog update is long overdue. Breaking Ground Cameroon has become a much larger project than any of us involved in its inception ever imagined. In addition to having raised over $7000, we are in the process setting new goals and starting new projects. I say "we" because Breaking Ground Cameroon is no longer something for which I feel like I can take full credit. Not only has my family at home in the U.S. been essential to the success of the project, but my work here is not the product of my thinking alone. Here in Cameroon, I am part of a team of teachers, parents, and community members all working together to plan and enact the changes that will most benefit the kids.

For the last three months or so, I have enjoyed the fact that all of this progress has been made independent of any official organization or development agency. We are simply a group of normal people who have come together to help another group of people. As much as possible, we have cut out the middleman and the bureaucracy and found a way to help that doesn't make "development" a dirty word. That said, however, as we set our goals higher, we start to face pressure to become an official organization. If we want to realize our goals, we need to raise more money, and if we want to raise more money, we would be wise to make donations to Breaking Ground Cameroon tax deductible. Thus, we are looking into getting status as a 501(c)3 organization. Very soon, we'll have our new website up and running: (Thanks Ted and Matt!).

Here is a quick update on the progress in Doumbouo:

- First, a personal note: Because we raised so much money and still have so much work to do, I am prolonging my stay in Cameroon until August. I'm looking for a replacement, too. Anyone interested?

- Thanks to the help of the friendly folks at the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, books to equip a new library at the high school in Doumbouo are in the mail. They should be here within a month or so, at which point we'll start sorting and cataloging. Thanks to everyone who has made this possible!

- A month ago, my friend Alex Moore (Wesleyan University 2005, SIT Cameroon 2004) arrived to start her own work at the school in Doumbouo. Alex is our resident artist and has spent the last couple of weeks painting incredible murals in our freshly plastered and painted classrooms. The two oldest classrooms have HUGE world maps on the back walls – a political map for CM1 and a geographical map for CM2. With Alex's encouragement, Monsieur Jean, the teacher in CM2 has taken it upon himself to paint maps of Cameroon in each classroom. Alex and M. Jean are working with a team of kids who are soenthusiastic about the painting that they show up to work with Alex even on days when she guarantees them that she can't be there – they'd rather wait outside the school all afternoon than risk missing the chance to paint. If all goes well, Alex will be prolonging her stay by a few weeks so she can paint in all the classrooms: simple bilingual vocabulary in the youngest classes (i.e. banana/banane, cat/chat, etc.) and African maps in the middle range classes.

- Emily Adler, a student with the School for International Training (SIT) program, is doing her Independent Study Project (ISP) in Doumbouo. Originally, her project was going to focus on gender and elementary education, but upon seeing "my" school in Doumbouo and the school the neighboring village where she is studying, her research transformed dramatically. The school that she is studying was the recipient of a huge amount of aid from a village in France two years ago. The school is beautifully constructed, and is equipped with a library unlike any I have ever seen in Cameroon – nicer and better equipped than most libraries that kids in the U.S. could hope to have access to. Unfortunately, the library is locked and closed to the public and barely ever opened for the use of the students. Enraged by this waste, Emily has changed her research to focus on methods of development – comparing my project with that of the French village. Community, grassroots versus foreign aid? I won't pretend to be able to speak to the findings of her research – instead, look forward to reading about her research on the new Breaking Ground webpage once it is up and running and her research is finished.

- Finally, and most importantly, our upcoming project goals. I had hoped to receive funding via the Peace Corps for the construction of a new library building in Doumbouo to host what will be a public, community bilingual library with books ranging from primary school level to advanced agricultural and technological resources. Books are already on the way from the U.S. and a book drive is underway in France (Thanks Kathleen!). In the next week or so, once our webpage is up, I will post the formal proposal for the construction of the library in the hopes that we can bring in enough money through friends, family, and this Breaking Ground Cameroon connection to get started on construction. If our fundraising is successful, and if we raise more money than we need, than we will start doing the same type of work that I have already done at my school in the other primary schools in Doumbouo.

Another update will be posted soon to let you know about the debut of our new webpage. Again, sorry for the long period of silence. Keep in touch – I would love to hear your comments and am more than happy to answer any questions that you might have.

On est ensemble,


After almost a month of work, the initial projects undertaken at school are almost finished! All of the classrooms have had their walls and floors cemented. The water is flowing clean and clear from the new fountain. A wide, cement staircase has been installed on the school's steep hill – no more slipping and sliding for the kids or the teachers! The office has had its floor patched and a new flagpole has been erected at the entrance of the school.

Thanks to your contributions, we have raised over $6000! I cannot thank you enough for your generosity. While this is an enormous sum of money (over 3 million francs CFA), project ideas keep rolling in – and they far exceed our funding abilities at the moment. The biggest project we would like to undertake is the construction of a building to house the library project that is currently underway with the African Library Project. While we currently have a small storage space available for the books, we would like to construct a building that could better serve the entire community as a public library. Please pass the word along that we are trying to build a library and need your financial assistance! With the new PayPal link, making a contribution is now easier than ever. Send the link to this blog to family and friends, and let's make this happen!

Also, as a technical note, in the next month or so, I will make available a comprehensive account of all the expenses of these projects. In the interest of challenging the corruption that is rampant here in Cameroon, I want this project to be as transparent as possible. Keep your eyes open for a link to the document.

Again, thank you so much for your generosity. Please feel free to contact me with questions, comments, concerns, etc.


Six new photos

Added six new photos to the construction page.



All are Adobe PDF files and will open in a new browser window:

  • BOOM and BUST!: A Case Study of the Relationship Between a Private Forestry Enterprise and Healthcare in Southern Cameroon’s Arrondissement of Campo (Spring 2004)

  • The Politics of Leverage: A study of the relation of Cameroon to neo-liberal reform within the context of neo-imperialist rivalries (Fall 2004)

  • Encroaching Upon La Chasse Gardeé: The Consequences of Inter-Imperial Rivalry in the Republic of Cameroon (Spring 2005)