Rotary in the Rainforest
Rotary International is dedicated to humanitarian action, especially in areas of education, water and sanitation, and economic development, and works through local organizations who are uniquely capable of evaluating and implementing these programs in an effective manner.
Ape Action Africa works closely with its neighbors in the communities surrounding the Mefou National Park in rural Cameroon, through programs for education, sanitation and development, all to benefit conservation of the primates and to improve the lives of the people who share their forest.
Rotary in the Rainforest is an initiative that brings the two together. See more on our projects below. If you are a Rotarian and would like to become involved, please email me, Susan. We'd love to have you!
Project: Classroom for Primary School, 2013-2014
Oveng is one of five Mefou communities actively working in partnership with Ape Action Africa, and it has to have some of the most dedicated community members and one of the neediest schools. Through Rotary in the Rainforest, the Oveng grade school is about to expand into a new classroom, which will allow more students to attend school, and even to hold classes when it rains. (Which happens a lot in the rain forest.)
The Oveng primary school that you see here provides instruction for up to 120 students in six (!) grades in this rudimentary structure. Teachers prepare and deliver two sets of lessons every day, for each of the two grades they teach. Talk about resourceful!
In November, 2013, members of the Palo Alto Rotary Club broke ground on a new classroom for Oveng. Since then, community members have formed thousands of construction blocks, and the staff of Ape Action Africa has assisted and coached them through construction of the new classroom. Rotary funded the cost of materials, but the labor of love is all Cameroonian.
It's almost finished - damaging storms temporarily reassigned the crew - keep posted for final pix!
Project: Community Sanitation 2012-2013
Six primary schools in the Mefou communities now have brand-new latrine buildings, thanks to a project sourced by Act for Great Apes and funded by the Palo Alto and Los Altos Sunset Rotary Clubs, both of California. (Thank you, Rotarians!)
Ape Action Africa works closely with its neighbors in the communities around the Mefou National Park, through programs for education, sanitation and development, all to benefit conservation of the primates and the people who share their forest.
Ape Action Africa and community delegates first selected the schools most in need of improved sanitation facilities and worked with the communities to coordinate roles. Each community was responsible for digging its sanitation pit according to specifications, then Ape Action construction staff and community members worked together to build the structures.
With Rotary as its funding partner, Ape Action purchased building materials and transported them to the building sites. Rainy season travel challenges were met by staging materials at various waypoints for onward transport by smaller trucks, and the construction crew did double duty with loading and unloading.
When the weather and work schedules cooperated - the construction crew is responsible for all the animal enclosures and human facilities at the sanctuary - the dedicated crew made quick work of laying the reinforced concrete floor, raising and reinforcing concrete block walls for the four individual rooms, forming doors and windows, adding the roof, and expertly adding finishing plaster inside and out. In six different locations!
The latrines were dedicated and handed over to the government in November 2013, in a festive all-day celebration full of speeches, music and dancing. Teachers and top students from the nearest schools attended, as did community chiefs and delegates - men and women! - government officials, Rotarians from Palo Alto and Yaoundé Collines, even a news crew from national television. Manager TAFON Babila performed the official handing-over, and the Senior Regional Officer cut the ribbon at Metet, on behalf of all six schools. The regional government also chose to use the occasion to present scholarships to the top students in each class, so there was even more to celebrate.
And to top it off, visiting Rotarians announced - to great cheering - that the next joint project is a new classroom to be built for the primary school at Oveng.
Rotary has certainly made a lasting contribution to these communities, one that is very much appreciated.
For more information on this or other Rotary in the Rainforest projects, contact susan@ActforGreatApes.org