Thursday, Sept. 25
Fongo-Ndeng, Cameroon

UPDATE: Wow! I have such generous family, friends and readers. All the kids are covered! Thank you all for your help. I can’t wait to see their faces when I give them the news… Of course I’ll write about it here on the blog.

In the meantime, don’t miss out on reading more about the family in the three posts below this one.

To start the school year in Fongo-Ndeng, a child needs only a uniform, which costs the equivalent of $13, and a notebook.

Regine, Lidi and Sylvian on their way to school.

Regine, Lidi and Sylvian on their way to school.

But the glee of learning in a classroom — yes, for these kids it’s glee, because they don’t take school for granted — lasts only about a month. Come October 9, students who haven’t paid their annual tuition are no longer allowed in class.

Those kids stay home and spend the year gathering firewood, cultivating in the fields and hoping that there will be enough money for them to go to school the following year. Because once a child misses two years of school, it’s unlikely she’ll ever return.

Fongo-Ndeng has a good school. The kids hike up this mountain to reach it every day. See it at the top?

Fongo-Ndeng has a good school. The kids hike up this mountain to reach it every day. See it at the top?

In years past, the Ndi Wamba family hasn’t had to worry about school fees, which vary according to class, because Father’s pension covered them.

But this year is different. Not only does the family lack his financial support, they also have more school-age kids than ever before. Two of the four mothers have four tuitions they hope to pay.

So when I showed up in Fongo-Ndeng, one year after Father died, right around the time when school fees are due, the family saw me as a gift from God. They knew I would help in whatever way I could.

Blanche and Nicki.

Blanche and Nicki.

I set their expectations low, telling them I would return next week with money to pay for several of the kids.

But what I’d really like to do is pay for all of them. It sounds like an excessive gift, but it’s school.

Everyone should get to go to school. We all did. Now I realize how lucky I was to have a free primary and secondary education, plus parents who could afford to buy me textbooks.

Anybody want to sponsor a child or teenager and send them to school this year? This is a great way to give because:

* You know exactly where the money is going and how it will be spent. I’ll pay the schools in person next week.

* What may be a small sum of money to you makes a huge difference for this family.

* I’ll make it easy for you. All you have to do is let me know which child you want to help and send a check to my parents in the States. They’ll deposit the money, and I’ll withdraw it from here.

* These are good kids. They want to learn.

I’ll travel to a big city on Sunday to visit an ATM, so we’ve got to work fast.

Here’s a list of the Ndi Wamba kids (including grandkids that live on the compound — you wouldn’t know the difference) and their fees for this year:

Regine, 21 years old, (female). When it pours, she dances on her porch!
Needs tuition and some books. $90. Sponsored.

Lidi, 18 years old (female). Looks after her ill mother.
Needs tuition and one book. $60. Sponsored.

Janvier, 13 years old (male). I wish I had the energy of this kid.
Needs tuition. $43. Sponsored.

Jean #1, 21 years old (male). So tall he towers above the rest.
Needs tuition and two books. $90. Sponsored.

Syvlian, 18 years old (male). Loves learning English.
Needs books. They’re expensive because he’s in an upper grade. $50. Sponsored.

Jean #2, 20 years old (male). Expects to graduate high school this year.
Needs tuition and books. $130. Sponsored.

Benoit, 23 years old (male). First-year university student.
Only needs tuition for now. $115. Sponsored.

Stephon, 8 years old (male). First year of school!
Needs tuition. $25. Sponsored.

Deuplace, 12 years old (male). The little guy asked me himself for the fee.
Needs tuition. $25. Sponsored.

Natalie, 15 years old (female). She’s all paid up! Lucky girl.

Maurice, 20 years old (male). Secretly my favorite.
Needs tuition and books. $115. Sponsored.

Blanche, 13 years old (female). Such a sweetheart.
Needs tuition and books. $67. Sponsored.

Mirabelle, 18 years old (female). Talks so fast I can’t understand her.
Needs tuition and books. $90. Sponsored.

Vicki, 9 years old (female). Followed me around like a puppy.
Needs tuition. $15. Sponsored.

Canes, 16 years old (male). This is one smart kid. He tutors the others.
Needs tuition and books. $80. Sponsored.

Crestell, 15 years old (female). Came to me for help with English.
Needs tuition and a book. $58. Sponsored.

Franklen, 12 years old (male). A quiet one.
Needs tuition. $48. Sponsored.

Djoe, 17 years old (male). Don’t know him as well.
Needs tuition. $48. Sponsored.

Wow. Now see why this is so overwhelming? The fees aren’t much individually, but they add up. 18 kids in all.

Let’s make sure they learn this year.