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US Ambassador Visits School Feeding

His Excellency Christopher Lamora, US Ambassador to Cameroon, visited St Anne Catholic Primary School in Marza village on the outskirts of Ngaoundere on March 11, 2024.The School is one of thirty in the Adamawa Region that benefited from the five-year (2018-2023) McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Project, funded by United States Department of Agriculture and implemented by Nascent Solutions. The US envoy was warmly welcomed by students, teachers, parents, civic, administrative, and religious leaders.

In his keynote address, the bishop of Ngaoundere thanked USDA for investing in the children of Adamawa. He prayed for the continuation of the partnership and the expansion of the intervention to other schools in the region. The ambassador and his team toured several components of the incipient Home-Grown School Feeding model. The school storeroom, where maize and beans grown by the PTA on the school farm and used to feed the pupils twice a week is stored; and the 1.2-acre school garden, tilled in preparation for rain to grow vegetables and condiments for school meals. In the garden his excellency was further informed by school administrators of an additional 5 acres where corn and beans are grown by the PTA. His Excellency’s next stops were the crib (where crops are dried and processed post-harvest before being stocked in the storeroom), the kitchen; and then classrooms to witness the children at lunch (corn and beans). The ambassador spoke with the students, who complimented their meals to him. The last tour stop was the school library, where the ambassador was shown the books donated by USDA, which the children read during break and leisure time at school.

Speeches from the head teacher, the PTA president, the school coordinator, Cameroonian government’s regional inspector of education, and poems and sketches from the students expressed gratitude to the American people for their support. Student enrollment, attendance, and participation have increased, and the local community, the local and national government are working hard to sustain school feeding by feeding the children twice a week since the beginning of the academic year. Administrators and local leaders expressed that in the Marza community, the practice of early and forced marriages for young girls has almost disappeared thanks to the project diverting girls to school. The key stakeholders of basic education in the Ngaoundere 1 Subdivision implored the ambassador to plead with USDA on their behalf to continue with the McGovern-Dole project not only in Marza village but to include all the other schools in the region because its many benefits that they have seen.

In response, the ambassador thanked Nascent Solutions, the parents, the teachers, and the students for the success of the project. He acknowledged the challenges the school faces, the shocks of climate change, and the early marriages and promised that together these challenges can be confronted. The Ambassador informed the stakeholders that he has spoken to the USDA in Washington DC, who make funding decisions on the McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program and encouraged them to continue supporting the very commendable work by Nascent, its implementing partner, and the stakeholders are doing in Cameroon.