Working with SHUMAS to build schools and health centres
What we do with funds
There is a huge need for a programme of school building in Cameroon. Very many of the existing buildings that we have seen are in such a poor state of repair that they are not only uninhabitable in the rainy season but also dangerously close to collapse.
Each year, SHUMAS receives hundreds of applications from rural villages asking help to rebuild their local schools. It takes into account the dilapidated state of the current school buildings and the community’s readiness to be fully committed to help build their own new classrooms.
We guarantee that every penny donated to our charity will go towards the construction of new classroom blocks, new latrines and clean drinking water and other related projects, in remote rural communities in Cameroon. We can do this because all our Charity’s overheads are covered by our Trustees, who are volunteers.
We help to change these old schools…
…. into new ones like these
It costs so little to build a village primary school in Cameroon, and each school improves the lives of thousands of children.
What is included in a school project
1. A block of three new weatherproof classrooms and a school office, built to a very high specification in terms of durability and hygiene and complete with blackboards.
2. Sufficient school benches to accommodate up to 150 children. (pic new equipped classroom blocks)
3. A teacher’s table and chair for each classroom.
4. A new ventilated deep pit latrine with discreet cubicles for boys, girls and teachers which ensure privacy is respected. At secondary schools we aim to provide discrete blocks of latrines for boys and girls. All latrine blocks now have hand-washing facilities attached and some have a small changing room. (pic new latrine with handwashing facilities)
5. A supply of clean drinking water, if possible. Cholera and Typhoid are commonplace amongst the children, who often have to carry water to school from nearby streams. We ask SHUMAS to undertake feasibility studies at each school to establish the most effective method of getting safe drinking water to the school. Costs vary hugely, of course, depending on the topography and the state of the water catchment, but sometimes all that is needed is some additional pipeline and the construction of a standing tap in the school yard – and this can sometimes be incorporated in the ‘package’. We often fund more expensive water projects, such as boreholes with pumps, by combining some of our smaller donations – not a penny raised on our behalf is ever wasted. (pic clean drinking water)
6. Tools and seeds for a school farm are usually included in a package, if land at the school is available. This allows for school children to learn organic farming skills as part of their curriculum and also generates income, allowing the school to purchase extra teaching/learning materials. In 2016 the Cameroon Government recognised the importance of school farms at SHUMAS’ schools, and has recommended that, where possible, this facility is built in to all schools across the nation. (pic school garden)
7. The funding for a village Women’s Farming Group (where appropriate) to be included in SHUMAS’ micro-credit scheme. This allows the women to invest more into their farms and receive training from SHUMAS in organic farming techniques and in women’s health issues. In return, the women undertake to keep the school building clean and in good repair and help with the school farm. (pic women’s farming group)
8. Monitoring of progress at the school for at least two years after the building is completed.
In addition, a small amount is added for contingencies. This covers any unforeseen expenses arising from fluctuations in exchange rates, problems with transportation of materials etc., which can otherwise be financially crippling for SHUMAS. We have agreed that any savings SHUMAS makes from this fund can be used to help maintain their vehicles which are so essential to their work.
In the near future, we are hoping to be able to offer an additional facility at our schools – solar powered electricity. This will make the world of difference to both students and staff and will enable the use of computers as well as providing light in the evenings. (pic solar lighting for schools)
Investment in health
Although our main focus has always been on increasing access to school to all children in Cameroon, we quickly realised that children were only able to attend school if their whole family was in good health – otherwise they would be kept back at home to work the farm and keep the family fed. In these cases, family income would fall so low that the payment of health centre charges and school fees would be impossible. Health centres in the remote villages are desperately poor and unhygienic places with little or no equipment. Many women have no antenatal care and consult ‘traditional healers’ when there are problems. This results in high infant and maternal mortality and many live births do not get registered, leaving these children disenfranchised for the rest of their lives.
We funded our first health centre project, refurbishing and re-equipping the centre at Dzeng, in 2012. It is now a thriving facility and, such was its success that we have replicated this project in five other communities and have also been able to provide new equipment to many other centres.
Similarly, we have been able to fund new community water projects, providing access to clean drinking water in areas which are very succeptible to water borne diseases like malaria, typhoid and cholera.
What is included in health centre and water projects?
All of these projects are individual, depending on the size and state of the current facilities, but in general refurbishment includes
- re-flooring inside the centre and the outside verandah waiting area,
- re-plastering inside and outside
- re-roofing with a tin roof
- providing a new ceiling throughout
The equipment provided to health centres usually includes:
- ward beds with mattresses (usually 6)
- a side cupboard and drip stand for each bed
- baby cots with mattresses (usually 3 or 4)
- Delivery equipment
- Baby scales
- Adult scales
- wound dressing kits
- microscope and lab reagents
- refridgerator (if electricity is available)
A new community water project in the hilly areas usually includes repairs to, or new provision of:
- a large water catchment
- a storage tank with filtration tank
- several stand-taps
In the flatter, desert regions, we undertake to construct wells or boreholes.