Despite Danger, Staff & Participants Carry On
Even with the real and present danger of rebel groups storming the town of Gamboula and surrounding areas for many months, courageous program participants and the staff of local partner CEFA have managed to find ways to carry on.
With the exception of the cattle program – the animals are a significant investment and are at high risk of being stolen – most other activities have made progress. The tree nursery, EDEN, raises and sells a variety of fruit and agroforestry trees, and also sells fruit from the mature trees for resale. Training and monitoring on vegetable gardening, peanut farming, fish farming, and organizing co-ops and self-help groups have all seen good results as well.
Five new farmer co-ops with self-help and savings-and-loan components got off the ground this year and are working at getting their bylaws and government registrations taken care of.
Level-headed staff even found a work-around for processing palm nuts into oil for bottling and sale. With people fleeing the area for stretches of time, it was hard to find laborers to do the work. Instead, staff is cutting the palm heads off the trees and selling them to women to process at home.
As Anick reports, “I’m able to take care of my four children thanks to the small garden work I have here at the CEFA farm. I’ve even started a little business. I buy palm heads from CEFA. Once I extract the oil, I sell a part of it so I have money to buy soap, salt, kerosene, and medicine and to cover my children’s needs. We use the other part for cooking, and sometimes my neighbors come to ask me for some for their families. The palm oil is rich, and less expensive than the peanut oil from Cameroon that is not available to the poor.”
Caption: Children block the view of sacks filled with a new farmer group’s first peanut harvest
CAR Gamboula Program
Led by Evangelical Covenant Church/Covenant World Relief and Local Partner CEFA