Blog

Nascent Celebrates Global Handwashing Day

Nascent Solutions joined the international community on October 15th in celebrating Global Handwashing day. Utilizing a sanitation-is-fun approach we have been educating pupils in rural schools in Bui Division in Cameroon to wash their hands regularly, particularly before eating and after bathroom breaks. These simple guidelines are often absent in poor communities where more immediate issues of finding food and survival dominate social consciousness.

However our education initiatives, paired with Nascent Solutions’ construction of handwashing stations as part of the McGovern-Dole Food For Education program’s implementation has yielded good results. Many children now regard handwashing at the hands-free handwashing stations as a fun activity and are eager to wash their hands before meals, after bathroom breaks and after various other youthful shenanigans.

Celebrating days like the Global Handwashing day helps deepen the entrenchment of good sanitary habits, and we found the pupils in our project schools eager commemorators this year.

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Literacy Day With E-readers

Nascent Solutions staff, together with traditional and civic authorities in Bui and the Tadu Community joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 50th International Literacy Day. The theme of this years’ celebrations was “Reading the past, writing the future”. The event was held at GS Tadu, where the e-reader program and distribution of supplies to schools were also officially launched.

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Overall attendance was about 800 people comprising of Pupils and teachers of GS Tadu, PTA Chairpersons, Head teachers and teachers of the four selected E-reader pilot schools (PS Roberta, CS Djottin, GS Ngashie and GS Tadu), Tadu community members, traditional authorities, the Divisional Delegate of Basic Education, Inspectors of Basic Education, agency heads, the Mayor of Kumbo Council and the Senior Divisional Officer for Bui.

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After an overview of the e-reader program, certificates were awarded to 04 head Teachers and 04 class two teachers of the four E-reader pilot schools for successfully taking part in the E-reader training. The PTA chairpersons of the 04 schools received 12 e-readers each for their respective schools, for which they also signed commitment forms.

The people of Tadu expressed gratitude and satisfaction through their massive participation in the event.

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Teacher Training in Kumbo

The Promotion of education is a core element of Nascent Solutions’ mission. Many rural and agrarian societies are falling victim to new challenges, such as climate change, presented by an increasingly interconnected world. It is therefore of the utmost importance that children growing up in this rapidly changing world be given the tools to succeed. Literacy is a vital and often overlooked fundamental element for thriving in the modern world.
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Therefore our implementation of the McGovern Dole Food For Education Program goes beyond providing meals, school gardens, and clean water. Through a partnership with Fantastic Phonics, Nascent Solutions hosted seminars in June 2016, for 107 teacher trainers, led by experts from Australia. The seminar attendees comprised at least one teacher from each MGD/ALIGN project school. This strategy puts our teacher trainers in ideal positions to educate their peers in the best practices for literacy training and thereby significantly improve the literacy of  our 52,000 target students.
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These seminars further provide Nascent Solutions’ trainers with a firm baseline from which to build future literacy initiatives and help bring our target communities into the lettered global family.

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Clean Water Project Underway

Dysentery and other diseases of unclean drinking water are the leading cause of death in children in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The Water Project leg of the USDA Nascent Solutions’ MGD/ ALIGN  program is underway in Cameroon’s Bui Division. The Water Project seeks to install water wells, hand-washing stations and water tanks in up to 42 needy schools in Bui Division in Cameroon.

The first school to be equipped with borehole, water tank and hand washing stations is GS Bamkikai, in Kumbo. Prior to the projects intervention pupils as young as 5 had to fill up a designated class bucket with water from a surface stream a ten minute walk from the school campus before classes daily. This class bucket with water exposed to animal and human wastes and pesticide runoff from nearby farms served as the source of drinking water for the classes. This situation is replicated in many rural communities contributing to high rates infant disease and death in impoverished communities.

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The Water Project’s robust approach to providing reliable long term clean water with deep water wells, will help stem the tide of sickness and death in rural children. The water from the wells will further be used to water school gardens and in hand washing stations further bracing the most vulnerable against hunger and sickness and providing them the necessary foundation for a sound education.
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Food For Education / ALIGN 2016

ALIGN (Advancing Literacy with Good Nutrition) 2016, building on the foundations of the 2008-2012 Food For Education program will work to:

  • Improve the literacy of school-age children in the North West  region of  Cameroon.
  • Increase the use of good health and dietary practices.
  • Increase access to clean water and sanitary services on school grounds.

Many schools in our target communities are only equipped with the most basic infrastructure. Nevertheless previous initiatives  have succeeded in improving baseline figures of attendance and enthusiasm for education and literacy in the communities in which we work. Positive changes in attitudes towards educating girls are especially worth noting.

NSI and its partners working in collaboration with the Cameroon Ministries of Basic Education and Public Health will further strive to increase the capacity of government Institutions. We will advocate for more government investment and support for literacy and education initiatives, increasing the engagement of local organizations and community groups with the objective being to significantly:

  • Improve student attendance.
  • Improve student attentiveness.
  • Increase access to school supplies and materials.
  • Improve the quality of literacy instruction.

Field research has shown us that while there is enthusiasm for education when incentives are present, there is much room for improvement if communities and local and state government institutions can be shown the benefits of investing in education.

While ALIGN’s direct object is to assist in the provision of baseline essentials for nutrition, sanition and education, it is our projection that continued success may inspire national investment in education infrastructure, facilities and committed professionals, to help bring our target communities firmly in to the modern world in a sustainable way.

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WFP & Nascent Partner for Refugees in Cameroon

The WFP and Nascent project to assist Central African Republic refugees and their hosts attain self-sufficient lives got underway in November 2013 in Cameroon’s eastern region, with early deliveries of implements for the development of pasture and farmland.

The project covered pasture development via the removal of invasive grass species, beneficial tree and shrub planting and the establishment of pasture barriers, as well as livestock and agriculture training, and took its first steps with the delivery of urgently needed tools. Nascent and WFP staff made the long drive through poor roads, to reach the inaccessible Kette district and four of the project’s target communities: Bedobo, Boubara, Gbiti and Timangolo. Project staffers were received by local administrators and over 100 participating refugees and their hosts in each of the four project locations. Initial deliveries of over 1500 tools, including; hoes, wheelbarrows, machetes, rakes and other essential implements were effected. The participants expressed excitement and gratitude at receiving these simple but badly needed tools as well as an eagerness to begin phase two of the project. However the deliveries still fell short of the necessary objectives due to a larger than expected number of project participants in the visited districts.wfp

With the initial implement and tool delivery complete, groundwork began to further coordinate efforts with local administrators, refugees and hosts to effectively begin pasture development with land clearing, invasive specie removal, tree planting, construction of water points and fences. Once the final tool deliveries were complete, the second phase comprising training, clearing and planting phase effectively began, but was limited by a lack of resources.

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Empowered Women Inspire Rebirth of Rural Zambia

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6,304 empowered women are turning the tide of poverty and repression in Zambia’s Northern region. They are the beneficiaries of WEAVE (Women Empowered-to-Fight Aids and Violence Everywhere), supported by USAID and Nascent in Zambia’s remote eastern region. WEAVE women have recently celebrated world AIDS day, and raised their voices in 16 days of activism against gender based violence, working to end the blight of HIV, through largely attended sensitization meetings, HIV test provision, and fighting against a culture of repression and abuse against women. Other effects of their empowerment can be seen in the K128, 221,500 ($25,600) the women have saved in community banks established as part of the program, and in the 1,172 small businesses women have started, greatly supplementing household income and strongly asserting financial autonomy. Women who previously had no source of income are now engaged in myriad enterprises including selling groceries, agriculture produce, livestock, fish, beer brewing, building stones, knitting/sewing, and fritters.

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Most remarkable is the great enthusiasm in the community for training in basic literacy and computing, which the program hasprovided, greatly expanding the business resources and know-how available to the community as a whole.

Kelvin Kuba a once severely malnourished boy in rural Zambia can walk and play again. His return to good health was also principal objective of project WEAVE. The program in it’s third year has assisted over 2,010 malnourished children like Kelvin; of whom well over 80% gained weight while in the program, with 551 children being fully rehabilitated. The program has provided nutritional assistance through the Positive Deviance Hearth Model and has assisted families in the transition from the use of critical nutritional supplements to locally grown and produced food crops that have been identified as offering the required nutritional support. Nascent staff have helped in training for the cultivation of nutrient and protein rich crops such as soy beans and corn whose production will be supervised by local communities, government and volunteer institutions once the project is completed. Thus the positive trajectory for youth, health and welfare initiated by WEAVE in eastern rural Zambia, is ready to be continued in a sustainable, and autonomous way, by the happy indigenes.

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WEAVE Project Snares Rapist

GBV Success Story: WEAVE Project Snares a Rapist

When 31-year old Fred Mwansa decided to rape a helpless old woman in the village of Chakopo in Zambia’s Mpika District, he expected to get away with it. That was probably because he had never heard about the women of the WEAVE project and the work they were doing in the area. WEAVE, which stands for Women Empowered against Violence Everywhere, is a USAID-funded project conceived and implemented in Zambia by Nascent Solutions, a US non-profit. On February 20, 2012, Fred Mwansa assaulted and raped Theresa Bwalya (pictured in blue top) an 80-year old bedridden victim of a stroke that had left her partially paralyzed. The villagers were scandalized when they learnt about this, but in the male-dominated culture of the area, the debate in the community was about the kind of amicable settlement between two families, not more severe punishment for the culprit. Distance to the legal authorities; men’s traditional supremacy in the area and the tendency among the men to downplay the severity of rape all turned the incident into a mundane family dispute. When WEAVE staff learnt about the incident, they were not only outraged, they swung into immediate action. Working with Chief Inspect Mvula of the Zambia Police-Victim Support Unit, and with encouragement from their headquarters in Virginia, the project transported the victim to the Mpika District Hospital, some 50 Km away. Then they sued Mwansa in the district court and, considering Ms. Bwalya’s age and health status, they petitioned the court to hear the case in Chakopo. The court agreed and set a trial date of April 11, right there in Chakopo. “We provided transportation for the court and the prosecution team to Chakopo,” says Catherine Mbokoma, Country Coordinator for Nascent Solutions Zambia and head of the WEAVE project. “Bringing the court to the community was not only for the purposes of legal proceedings but also acting to sensitize the community that distance is not a barrier to the dispensation of justice.” The accused, Fred Mwansa was found guilty of committing rape on a defenceless old woman, and the case was committed to the high court for sentence. Fred was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with hard labour at Kasama High court on 16 At the end of it all, Nascent Solutions CEO, Dr. Beatrice Wamey, observed that by patiently weaving a web of commitment, community involvement, innovation and modest resources, the WEAVE project finally obtained justice for a victim of terrible abuse by bring her abuser to justice. “WEAVE’s action was a teaching moment for all of us. It showed that justice for everyone is possible; it showed that with proper sensitization, gender equity is possible, and that with the right incentives, services such as the courts can be made more accessible to all citizens,” she said.

 

This report is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of [insert recipient name] and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

 

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Ambassador Visits Women’s Project in Zambia

On April 19th, 2011, the US Ambassador to Zambia, His Excellency Mark C. Storella paid a cordial visit to the USAID supported WEAVE project in Mpika District in Zambia.  WEAVE is a three-year women’s empowerment program being implemented by Nascent Solutions in Zambia. Its immediate goals are to:

– Increase the ability of 12,000 women affected by HIV/AIDS in Mpika District to start and run economically successful and sustainable small businesses.

– Improve the nutritional status of 1,500 vulnerable children under age 5.

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Ambassador Storella was received at the Chikakala Health center by members of the WEAVE staff, the Country Director, the District Health Officer and the USAID team. The Ambassador was given a tour of the site, during which he asked pointed questions about the program’s implementation, the acquisition of data, medication and the challenge of meeting electrical and power needs. The Country Director fielded the Ambassador’s questions, and he was particularly happy to learn that Health Center used solar panels to sustain and maintain power.
Next the Ambassador visited the HEP packing site and assisted in packing and distributing HEPs to 25 mothers. He also viewed the PD/Hearth demo, with which he was favorably impressed. Ambassador Storella, also observed and assisted in feeding malnourished children who are enrollees in the PD/Hearth program.

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At the end of his visit the Ambassador discussed some of the challenges of implementation with the staff, such as the overwhelming numbers of children in need of assistance. He commended the great community partnership and the efficient running of the program.

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American Ambassador Visits Food for Education Program

His excellency Robert Jackson, The US Ambassador to Cameroon, paid a cordial visit to the USDA funded McGovern-Dole Food For Education program in Bui Division.

The program in 20th months,  put smiles on the faces of over 18,000 primary school children in 75 villages in Bui division, established 50 school gardens and built 50 kitchens and latrines.

After a brief meeting with the program staff at the Nascent headquarters in Kumbo, Mbabu Nseh, in April. Ambassador Jackson proceeded to Nseh where he was warmly received by the managers of participating schools and the community at large.

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The implementation of the Food For Education program presentation by Counterpart International’s Cameroon Country Director, highlighted achievements, such as the great increase in school enrollment for boys (45%), and comparatively strong improvements in enrollment for girls (34%), increasing trends in school attendance for boys and girls and positive attitude and behavioral changes in the pupils.

The Country Director noted the crucial role that components such as the school kitchens, food stores and latrines; and continued community mobilization and education, play towards making a happy, healthy, self reliant youth. He also announced to everyone’s delight, the approval of a one-year, no cost extension of the program, and efforts that are being made to obtain approval for a second phase, which will possibly be extended to the North and East provinces of Cameroon.

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Ambassador Jackson proved a very engaging guest and in conversation after the presentation, initiated a discussion on the need to improve the hardscrabble school facilities to accommodate as best as possible the increase in enrollment.

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Ambassador Jackson visited and toured the Government School at Mbabu Nseh, where he was met with much celebration and fanfare by students and PTA members from Mbabu Nseh and other schools in the region, and received the honorary title of “nformi”, or War Leader, from the Chief of Nseh. The US envoy also presided over The Best School Garden Award ceremony, helping in the distribution of farm tools to participants and certificates and awards to the winners.  He capped his visit with a heartfelt expression of appreciation to Counterpart International and Nascent Solutions program staff, local PTAs, traditional rulers and the active community for continued and continuing efforts, which have borne real and positive results.

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