Cameroon: Cooking classes grow healthier kids

In the isolated region of far western Cameroon, village women could see that their children were getting sick too often. They would break bones easily, had discoloured teeth, and the distended round bellies that indicated malnutrition. “Almost everyone in the village was malnourished,” said a visitor conducting assessments. It wasn’t until an NGO began to run education programmes in their district, especially for mothers and grandmothers in the community, that the women realised the diet they were feeding their families – almost completely consisting of carbohydrates – could be making them sick.

Women cooking class“It was not that they did not have the food needed for a healthy diet,” one NGO staff member told us, “but that they did not know how to go about it.” After running seminars on food and nutrition (left), they saw the women eagerly learn what kinds of proteins and vegetables would give their children a balanced, healthy diet. Now, families in these Cameroonian villages grow beans and smoke fish to eat with their plantains and grind peanuts into paste for a nutritious, protein rich food, even growing enough to sell at market. It’s basic knowledge that has revolutionised the health of the community, meaning less sickness, fewer children dying early, and women better empowered to take care of their families.

These nutritional seminars, which have reached more than 800 families, and counting, are just one of the transformative programmes run by the NGO. They teach communities to keep bees for honey, they help with the basic needs of orphans and vulnerable children, and they give regular radio broadcasts educating people about HIV/Aids, and more.

They have now asked Crossroads for a shipment that will help them reach out to more people in western Cameroon. “Our offices are inadequately equipped,” they write. They need office furniture and computers, school furniture and clothes to help community children, and other goods. “98% of this area is cut off from anywhere else,” they told us. There is no road at all leading to much of the region.

We’re excited to be bringing this shipment together to support their work in isolated communities that is, literally, transforming and saving lives.

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Cameroon Snapshot

Population: 22.25 million

Capital: Yaoundé

Cameroon is in the west Central Africa region, with natural features including beaches, deserts, mountains, rainforests, and savannas.

Although the country as a whole has improved standards of literacy and healthcare, there is still a long way to go. Less than half of children go on to secondary education, and over 40% are involved in some kind of child labour. In rural areas, less than half the population has access to clean water and sanitation.

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