WALTER'S PERSONAL NOTE
I was not involved in the fund raising but there was no escape for me from the KUMBA-PROJECT, as it is called in Belgium. Especially last year! I heard the word "Kumba" from the morning till the evening. And I don't even want to mention the hours of discussion this caused in our house. Really a lot of energy was put in by Virginie, all in the spare time she had. Whenever friends came to visit us, it was a topic.
Our aim is to improve the life of some people in Cameroon, especially in Kumba. Please, consider also the fact that we are not an NGO. Everything we did was for free. Traveling to meet you today was also paid with our own personal money.
I thank you again for attending this meeting and I now give the word to Virginie who is the real inspirer of this project.
Walter Muls (10/01/2006)
VIRGINIE'S SPEECH TO THE TEACHERS AND THE PRINCIPAL OF THE DIVISIONAL YOUTH AND ANIMATION CENTRE (DYAC)
Thank you all for coming. I know there is no school today but you are here to meet us. I am Virginie Bossu, the head of the KUMBA-PROJECT Committee in Belgium and Walter is my husband. He helped me a lot in this project.
First of all, I want to tell you we were very happy when we arrived at the DYAC and saw the new roof of the old building, the new building, especially the mechanic pit, the new classes painted in bright colours, the clean environment of the area.
You all know this had not been possible without:
- the enthusiasm of Pauline Bessem, your Principal, whose aim has always been to improve the life of poor children and the youth of Kumba.
- friends of us outside the school who share the same interest as you and me and sponsor the KUMBA-PROJECT.
- my school (the ULM in Tournai). The teachers and students of my school have been working together for 3 years now to raise money during their free time and on a completely voluntary basis. We brought together young and old to improve the life of those who have it so difficult compared to to life in Belgium. Thanks to the KUMBA-PROJECT, people in Belgium understand more of the world, Africa and Cameroon in particular. We have also learnt to work together, students and teachers, which was something completely new at my school. We launched many actions in Belgium to raise money and spent a lot of our free time doing this for you (sponsored walk, gala, sale of packets of sweets and chocolate, bank account, internet site, chocolate breads, second hand market, ...)
So, you see, there was a lot of enthusiasm in Belgium for doing all this. We hope that this will generate the same enthusiasm over here in Kumba, but this depends on you, my dear teachers.
We are well aware of your problems: you live in difficult conditions, it is not easy to make money in Cameroon, you have to pay high taxes, prices of basic needs are rising, ...
We hope this project can solve or ease a little bit of these problems. Our idea was that by providing a good infrastructure, the DYAC will attract more students. When there are students, there are teaching opportunities and when there are teaching opportunities, this creates work ... and work will create an income for you.
Having a decent or reasonable income is why you are teaching here. This should motivate you to give the best of yourselves to the students at the DYAC.
Until now, my Belgian school thought (right or wrong?) that it was necessary first to have a good infrastructure and so to invest money first of all in the building and the equipment. The building has been provided but some things still have to be done urgently if you want to be ready for next schoolyear. You should make the old building look a bit nicer by cleaning and repainting the walls and by putting a new door between the classrooms. The floor of the new building has to be painted. The doors and wooden frames in the new building also have to be painted. Electricity and water have to be installed. You need to equip the classes and workshops.
As soon as possible, let’s say for sure next academic year, we will try to meet your personal needs. We were thinking of a salary of 40 000 cfa a month (60€). We hope you are OK with that.
On the other hand, we also have some requests. The school is now almost aimed towards boys. As my school is a mixed school, the KUMBA-PROJECT Committee would like the DYAC to attract more female students. After talking with Pauline Bessem, we were thinking of hairdressing and clothes-making to attract more girls at the YAC. Please, feel free to discuss this with Pauline Bessem, the Principal of the DYAC. She will let us know if you have other ideas. But please, note that this is an urgent request of the Belgian Committee: there must come learning opportunities for girls. Now comes our second request. As I told you before, the whole KUMBA-PROJECT was only possible thanks to the enthusiasm of teachers and students in Belgium. They all worked hard for this project voluntarily and during their free time. In 20 years time, no one at my school had seen such a solidarity for a project and I am very proud of this.
Now, we hope that this enthusiasm and this solidarity in Belgium will spark the same enthusiasm and solidarity in Kumba. So, we’d like you to think about things that can be done by students and children of the DYAC together. For example, what I told you before: cleaning and painting of the walls in the old building, painting of the floor and the wooden doors and frames in the new building, general maintenance tasks in and around the two buildings, looking for new students, …If you work together, this will create enthusiasm and solidarity, the school will look better, the number of students will rise and if maintenance costs come down, your income will rise.
Thanks for your attention. To finish this long speech, I will quote Mahatma Gandhi, our well-known fighter for progress through peaceful means: “We don’t want to give you fish, we want to give you the instruments to catch the fish”.
Feel free to visit the internet site on the KUMBA-PROJECT: www.kumba.be or contact the KUMBA-PROJECT Committee by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org (mention “kumba” as subject)
Thanks a lot. I wish you the best for 2006 and give you lots of greetings from my committee in Belgium. They wrote messages to you, teachers, and to the students. They are in this envelope. I give it to Pauline whom I thank a lot for all what she does to keep this DYAC working properly.
Virginie Bossu (10/01/2006)