The acquisition of land to build the boarding school for students:
In Bambama, one of the leading causes of dropout among middle school students is poverty and lack of a place to stay for students. In fact, many students come from far away villages to attend school. With no place to live and no money to afford the rent, they often drop out of school. So, Espace Opoko has a goal to help to build a boarding lodging for those students.
That is why, during this trip, we manage to convince local authority to give us land where we will build the future lodging building to provide housing to the middle school students who live far away from the district.
Bambama is a remote village without electricity and clean water. The locality has five Water Wells. However, since three years, four of the five Wells were broken. Fresh from my YALI experience, I wanted to use the leadership skills I learned from my training on community mobilization to fix the three broken Wells.
With the financial help of the local Senator, I managed to secure the funding needed to buy the missing pieces to fix the Wells. Once the pieces were bought, I gather local young volunteers to fix the Wells. After two days of repair, we managed to repair three of the four broken Wells.
Now, Students from the elementary and middle School have access to water. One of the Wells we repaired is situated near the local hospital; which means patients from the hospital now have access to water as well.
Our goal is to train two volunteers in the maintenance of Wells. The two volunteers will be responsible for the maintenance and replacement of broken pieces for all the wells in the district.
In Congo, Pygmies are the least privileged group. In the District of Bambama, pygmies are the minority which suffers from stigmatization and exclusion from the rest of the community. Because of this social exclusion, pygmies don’t have any children attending middle school. Although there are no major differences between the rest of Congolese and the pygmies, it is a well-established norm in Congo to treat pygmies poorly because of their social status.
During my 10 day trip, I decided to meet the pygmies community to gain a better understanding of the problems they face. After rich exchanges with them, I gathered that their main problem was a lack of support and resources to send their children to school. With resources and adequate help, the pygmies are willing to send 15 students to primary school and 9 children to middle school. So a total of 24 children might attend school this year if they have help.
That is why I agreed to organize a fundraising campaign for those 24 students to send pygmies students to school this year. The total amount needed for those children to attend school is $350. Please join me in making this happen!
From November 6th to November 14th, I spent ten days in the District of Bambama. The primary goal of this mission was to meet students and share with them the main objective of my trip to the US as a Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) member.
To encourage student involvement in school, I handed school supplies those with highest academic grades and those who behave well in class. I had an open talk with them about my experience at YALI. By handing school kits to students with good grades and good effort and conduct, I want to encourage them to work harder at school.
The meeting ended with students promising to do better the next semester. By rewarding hard work and academic excellence, I want all students at this middle school to know that their efforts matter, and they can count on us when it comes to motivating them to become good students.
I just spent a week in my community talking about the Yali Training, and I conducted some community activities. I will report each activity carried out, but let’s start with the most urgent:
Meeting with the indigenous people so called “pygmies” near Bambama village.
In Congo, Pygmies are the least privileged group; they are the minority, so they suffer from stigmatization and exclusion from the rest of the community. Because of this social exclusion, pygmies don’t have any children attending middle school near Bambama. Although there are no major differences between the rest of Congolese and the pygmies, it is a well-established norm in Congo to treat pygmies poorly like a slave because of their social status.
During my ten days trip, I decided to meet the pygmies community to gain a better understand of the problem they face. After a deep conversation with them, I understood a little bit some of their main problems. One problem is a lack of support and resources to send their kids to school. They told me if they have the minimum resources and an adequate help, they are willing to send 15 children to primary school and nine children in middle school. So a total of 24 children who might attend school this year if they get help.
That is why I agree to organize a fundraising for those 24 students this to send pygmies students to school. The total amount needed for those children to attend school is $500 for the first semester.
The ceremony to deliver School supplies to the students leaving the neighborhood of Bambama, Republic of Congo to go to Sibiti High School far away from home, took place today in the presence of the headmaster of the High School and all his staff.
Today October 12th, 2016, to the 60 students, we distributed the following items: 7 notebooks, pens, arithmetic equipment, bags for those who passed the class with a high grade (to promote a merit-based reward system), plastic binder for others.
More importantly, we have also paid health insurance for 33 students who are already enrolled to High school during this school year. We await the end of the 27 other inscriptions to pay for their insurance. Very often, students are kicked out of school here in the middle of school year if they have not paid this insurance fee yet. We need to take that burden off the shoulders of those students.
We also donated a box of chalk and agendas to the High school staff. I think it is important to emphasize that these students come from Bambama, a nearly 200 km location, away from this High school. They have to leave their parents, pay the rent and live alone in this small town during their high school years (3 years). We took a decision in 2013 to assist them, help them and encourage them to go to school, because tomorrow depends on them.
To all who participated in this journey, I thank you all and want to let you know that all those students deeply appreciate your contribution.