The sponsor site of Kumbo, Cameroon was one of the first sponsor sites established by Chalice in 1996. Sr. Lorraine MacKinnon, a speaker with Chalice, knew of three CND Sisters working in Cameroon with desperately poor women and children: Sr. Noreen MacDonald & Sr. Cecile Buote both from Prince Edward Island and Sr. Marilyn Von Zuben from Ontario. Sr. Lorraine recommended that they be contacted to see if they would be interested in establishing a sponsorship program in their area. Each Sister took responsibility for one extended family and the Kumbo sponsor site was born. In November 1996 the first child was sponsored in the sponsor site. In 2007, Sr. Noreen retired as Site Director and Sr. Marilyn Von Zuben CND, graciously accepted the position. Recently Sr. Marilyn, after years of working tirelessly for the families in Kumbo has retired as director of the Kumbo Sponsor site. The new staff members are Sr. Louisa Wirmum - Director; Peter Nubong - Projects Manager; Rosette Barah - Book Keeper/Accountant; Peter Wirba; Rosca Jingla - Field Worker.
The site of Kumbo began slowly with 15 children, but grew rapidly to its present status with over 1400 children and elderly being sponsored. The onslaught of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the culture of the dominant tribe in the Kumbo area had a major impact on the growth of the site. When a man dies, no matter what the cause, his wife is blamed. Everything they owned then becomes the property of his family of origin and the widow and her children are driven from the compound. In many cases the women and children walk long distances to request help from the Kumbo sponsor site, as they have no other means for survival.
Sr. Louisa and her co-workers do their best to improve the lives of the families with whom they are in contact. Women are encouraged to become self sufficient while their children are enrolled in school. It is the goal of the site to have every person tested for HIV/AIDS. Fortunately anti-retroviral drugs are now available for those who test positive and Nivirrapine is greatly reducing the risk of mother to child transmission.There are two health insurance programs in the area, which are greatly helping in the partial payment of medical costs. Because sponsored children's school fees are paid the teachers are in turn assisted. The economic crisis and poor harvests, which are the result of global warming and other factors, have caused the price of food and other basic commodities to increase dramatically.
The weather of Kumbo is characterized by a short dry season of about four months (November - February) and a longer wet season (March - October). The months of August and February are the coldest and hottest respectively. The roads in Kumbo are seasonal, during the dry season they are extremely dusty and in the rainy season the mud makes traveling difficult. The inclement weather in Cameroon has caused a massive increase in the cost of food. In recent years the northern part of the country has been plagued with droughts. Torrential rains often follow these seasons of droughts, bringing with them water borne diseases. Unfortunately it sometimes happens that a child who has gone to fetch water is swept away by the current.
Life is not easy for the people of Kumbo, but their efforts, optimism, determination and ability to smile through adversity never cease to amaze, humble and inspire those associated with the site. Sr. Louisa and her colleagues feel it is a privilege to help people live with dignity and hope. The dedication of these people has made a huge difference in the lives of the people in their care. The love and kindness of the Chalice supporters makes it possible for the people of Kumbo to experience God's gospel in action.
Director's Report 2012 - Kumbo, Cameroon
We thank you immensely for helping us help our children and their families. You are so much a part of them through your prayers, cards, gifts and sponsorship funds.
Kumbo Sponsor Site is committed in accompanying, monitoring and following up on 1587 children and 70 elderly. We assist them psychologically, emotionally, financially and materially so that they can stay at their homes and go to schools of their choice. We ensure holistic Education and Health, Nutrition and equip them with different skills. Education remains our highest goal as we see it as a tool to decrease poverty. These children live either in Kumbo Town or the surrounding villages. About 1349 of our children are attending 114 schools, 50 in Nursery Schools, 546 in primary schools, 699 in Secondary/High Schools, 54 in Universities and 86 are acquiring professional skills. To decrease poverty and school drop outs we organized seminars and workshops to educate children on growth issues as well as equipping them with computer skills during holidays.
Our children are doing well at school as they do not miss classes due to unpaid fees or any school equipment. We carry out school and home visitations twice a year to ensure performance and attendance.
Our children and elderly are enrolled in the Medical Health Insurance. This means that three times a year their hospital Bill is paid by the Insurance Organization. When sick they receive medical treatment in any of our big hospitals around us. During this year we organized:
- A seminar on sickle cell Anemia which is common among us.
- Sensitized, educated and carried out voluntary counselling and testing for HIV helping them to know their status.
- Formed a PIT TOILET BUILDING COMMITTEE which carried out the digging of some toilets for families to prevent insect and water borne diseases.
Most of our children’s families are farmers. We encourage them to own their own farms. This helps them to have enough food always. A part of the sponsorship money is used to purchase manure or fertilizers to help have a good yield. Most of the food cultivated is consumed at home so our children eat well. During holidays and on Saturday, children go to the farm with their parents to harvest. This activity builds family unity and teaches the children sustainable agriculture. We regularly hold briefings and courses for our parents on new techniques and responsible management.
Finally, in this last year we celebrated the 15th Anniversary of Kumbo Sponsor Site and the children participated enormously. They performed different activities and prizes were awarded. It was a colourful and enjoyable day for the entire community. A special mass was held and it was a true gift of witness and recognition for all that Chalice and you our dear sponsors have given.
Once more THANK YOU for what you are doing for our children. We often pray for you. The children, elderly and their families pray for you. We may be on the battlefield fighting against ignorance, poverty and many other evils, but what we could do without your support would be little as carry build a heaven on earth here in Kumbo.
Sr. Louisa Wirmum (SST).
Director of Kumbo Sponsor Site