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The Orphans of Belo

posted Jan 25, 2010, 9:04 AM by Reinoud Vaandrager
One of the major and long running projects at RUDEC is the orphan project.

In Cameroon around 5.2% percent of the population has an HIV infection that turns into AIDS. As a result many children lose their parents and become orphaned. The village where I work is no different and there are a lot of orphans here. As per Kom tradition the relatives will take care of the orphaned kids but often these families are very poor and cannot afford to send the orphans to school. (The tuition cost is around 30 euro's per year, but they also need uniforms, schoolbooks, pencils, etc.).

RUDEC is currently sponsoring around 50 kids (all through donations from volunteers and their friends) and last week we started to do our routine check up by visiting the orphans in their compounds to see how they are doing in shool, in their care-family, and from a nutritional point of view. Unfortunately many orphans were not doing too well in school (it seems around 50% of all kids fail to pass to the next grade, so I'm not sure if they are doing poorer then their non-orphan counterparts though). Some of the causes were because they were given 2nd hand schoolbooks and the school had upgraded to a new edition that was significantly different from theirs. Also many orphans 'got lost' as they did not live at the place where they registered earlier anymore because they had moved from one relative to another.

checking up on one of the orphans at their home (or compound)

Some of the orphans are clearly very bright, but they need more help and stability to get their foothold in life. We encourage all the orphans to also attend our after-school project. But kids really like to play soccer here (Cameroon is famous for their quality team, and in fact there is a game going on as I type: cameroon vs. egypt in the African Cup of Nations, kinda like the eurocup for africa, and by the sound of it they are winning ;))