On the 28th and 29th of October 2021, Ms. Christina Hardaway, Deputy Chief of the Political and Economic Section of the United States Embassy in Cameroon visited two of the four United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition program beneficiary regions, in Cameroon – the North and East Regions.
Ms. Hardaway was warmly received on arrival in the North Region, by Mr Avom Dang, Secretary General in the Governor’s office, representing the Governor. In the East Region, she was equally received by the Secretary General in the Governor’s office, Mr Theophile Nguea Beina, representing the Governor. Others present included the Governors’ representatives, delegates of various ministries, mayors, traditional leaders, PTA members, community members, and students of Kossi and Gbakombo project schools, and Nascent Staff.
An impressive turnout of over one thousand people in each of the project localities enthusiastically welcomed the visitors with song, dance, and expressions of profound gratitude to USDA and the American people for the McGovern Dole Project, which provides school meals, take home rations, school farms, school infrastructure, water points, libraries, teacher training and general nutritional support. The representatives of the US government heard directly from the Governor of the North Region, mayors, PTAs and student beneficiaries themselves.
Some infrastructure projects (buildings and boreholes) constructed by Nascent as part of the McGovern-Dole program, were symbolically inaugurated and handed over to the respective school Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs).
Ms. Christina Hardaway, on behalf of the US Embassy, expressed her satisfaction with the progress and achievements of the program. In her own words, she said: “I am delighted to see the community here gathered – parents, teachers, local and regional administrators – testify of the fruits of our partnership. Let me, once again, express my gratitude to the Government of Cameroon and to Nascent Solutions for the work accomplished. This program is more than a school feeding program and has served as a vehicle to empowerment and significantly improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of Cameroonians”. She said that the United States is a friend of Cameroon and a partner, supporting the pursuit of the development objectives of the country. To ensure the institutionalization of investments in school feeding and hygiene, she called on the Government of Cameroon to expedite the establishment of a national school feeding policy, for there is no more profitable investment for a government than an investment in the education and health of its people.
Madinatou Hamadou, a class 5 student of EP Gbakombo, of the minority Mbororo community, testified that the school feeding program had brought and kept her and over fifty other Mbororo girls in school. She said that before the program, she like many Mbororo girl children, stayed at home to do house chores with their mothers and prepare for marriage. Now she dreams of becoming the next regional delegate of Basic Education for the East Region. In tears, she thanked USDA and Nascent Solutions, and prayed that the program would last long.
The representatives of the Cameroonian government lauded the US Government and Nascent Solutions for the positive impact of the McGovern-Dole program on the education of children, especially for the girl child, in the North and East Regions and elsewhere in the country. They emphasized the relevance of the other components of the program – nutrition, health, and agriculture. These components, they said, contribute to reducing food insecurity for many households and improving the nutritional and health status of children, pregnant and lactating women. They further observed that the program reaches out to less than 3.5% of primary schools in the regions and pleaded for an increase in the number of schools benefiting from the program. They reiterated that the Government of Cameroon places great emphasis on the education of children and thanked all the principles who provide support in the accomplishment of this noble mission. They urged school authorities to ensure that the infrastructure built by Nascent is well maintained and used sustainably. They reassured Ms. Christina Hardaway and stakeholders present, of the Government’s commitment to fully support the school feeding program, including the establishment of a policy aimed at the sustainability of school feeding.
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