How you can help

Tuesday, Jan. 6
At home — Albany, NY

I hate saying goodbye and dread writing conclusions.

That’s the real reason why I haven’t ended the blog. I wanted to do it before Christmas, but I allowed myself to get distracted by everything that makes returning to the States wonderful: lovely company, tasty food and quality hygiene.

I’ve written half a dozen “last post” drafts, but none of them satisfied me. How do I sum up so much I’ve gained during the last six months?

Today, though, a reprieve arrived in my inbox: a note from Benoit Ndi Wamba, the son in my Cameroonian village family who helped me use money raised by readers of this blog to pay school fees for all the school-age children in his poor family.

Did I mention he was serious about school? Those who donated money can know it went to good use with Benoit at the wheel, that he’s keeping close tabs on his studying siblings: he sent grades earned by each child during the first three months of this year. A report card for the Ndi Wamba family!

The grades itself mean nothing since I don’t understand the system well (in general, higher is better). But that’s not what matters.

What matters is that because of this gift of school tuition and books — more than $1,000 donated — the Ndi Wamba kids not only get to go to school, they’re also being encouraged to do well. Their marks count for something. They’re being pushed to succeed.

So I’m not going to end the blog today. Instead, I’m sending along the Ndi Wamba report card, so you know what a difference you’ve made. Thank you.

This comes directly from Benoit!

Resultats: first trimestre
*Moyenne = average

1. Mbeuguia tsekeng, Jean. Classe: première. *Moyenne: 11,16.

2. Mbeuguia fofack, Sylvain. Classe: première. Moyenne: 10,92.

3. Mbeuguia dadem, Janvier. Classe: 6eme. Moyenne: 10,24.

4. Mbouadia kenfack, Regine. Classe: seconde. Moyenne: 08,63.

5. Mbouadia, Nathalie Alice. Classe: 5eme. Moyenne: 09,87.

6. Mbouadia djoumessi, Duplex. Classe: 4eme. Moyenne: 11,00.

7. Mbeuguia nguefack, Lydie. Classe: 6eme. Moyenne: 10,47 .

8. Mbouadia zonfack, Stéphane. Classe: élementaire first year. Moyenne: 11.02.

9. Temgoua mbeuguia, Maurice. Classe: premiere. Moyenne: 07,52.

10. Folefack, Jean Racel. Classe: terminal. Moyenne: 09,00.

11. Djoufack kenfack, Mirabelle. Classe: seconde. Moyenne: 09,00.

12. Alomo, Stéphanie Blanche. Classe: 4eme. Moyenne: 08,79.

13. Sonfack, Christelle Cédiane. Classe: 5eme. Moyenne: 08,00.

14. Soufac ngossa, Franklin. Classe: 6eme. Moyenne: 10,00.

15. Mbassibi wamba, Boniface. Classe: 6eme. Moyenne: 10,00.

16. Soufack tchoufack wamba, Canis. Classe: 3eme. Moyenne: 08,21.

17. For mine, we begin in February (Benoit).

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.