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The boarding school Kasa Koia

Over the years the need to accommodate children from the other islands wanting to attend school  has been increasing. This is due to the following reasons :
- Lack of schools on the home-island of the child
- The school on the island does not provide an adequate education or doesn’t function at all (no teachers, no financial means, etc.).
- The children stay with relatives. But in most cases it is difficult for the relatives to make ends meet and so they cannot feed an extra child.
Up to now we seem to be the only NGO on the archipelago that has been functioning well  and so we have tried provide food for a group of students from the island Canhabaque.  It concerns secondary-school students.
We received an annual budget of € 1.000,00 from Rotary Club “Antwerpen –Oost”.  But the number of students kept on increasing and eventually we could no longer provide food for the whole group.
Moreover, there were more and more  younger students (7 – 12 years old) .
The Dutch organisation “Bits for Kids”  who also supports projects for children in developing countries allowed us to explain our dream to them and consequently they agreed to support us.
So we travelled to Bubaque with a clear mission : to look for a house with sufficient possibilities to transform it into a boarding school or to find a proper piece of land on which  it could be built. Eventually we decided to go for the building plot.
The Education and Health  Ministries have agreed to provide basic articles of food (rice, beans, potato-flocks and salt). We have to complete the menu with fresh products (fish and meat, vegetables, fruit) and other products (sugar, soap, toothpaste, etc.). We also have to pay  the wages of the guard and the director plus the school fee, school equipment and the possible medical care of the children.  And in order to guarantee the continuity of the boarding school we urgently need foster parents.
The electricity system (solar energy) was s by Solinq and was flown to Bissau by DHL for free (both firms are sponsors of Bits for Kids).  Our good friend Georges De Buysere, member of Engineers without  Frontiers, accompanied us in order to steer the system.
On 29th. February 2012 we were able to open the boarding school “Kasa Koia “(*)officially in the presence of the local authorities. The local and national press were represented by a journalist.
The monthly pays of the guard (20.000FCFA or € 30,53) and of the cook (15.000 FCF or € 22,90) are very low but at the moment we cannot afford to pay more. Nevertheless, these sums should be at least doubled after a short while. Ndao has enrolled a female director who is willing to lead the boarding school for 30.000 FCFA (€ 46,15) per month. However, this sum will have to be raised considerably  in the near future if the number of children increases.
Our target is : beginning house 1(at the moment 7 children), school year 2015-2016; 2 houses (maximum 15 children) , school year 2016-2017; 3 houses (maximum 21 children).  The maximum number is 30 children (10 per house).
In order to fulfil our dream, we have to find foster parents urgently who are willing to sponsor € 15 per child annually. The foundation “El dinero encontrado”  agreed to support us to guarantee the functioning of the boarding school for the first period.
The boarding school of Bubaque is a big and important project  to which a lot of people have contributed and thanks to which a lot of people and little people can look forward to a better life. We thank everyone who helped us to fulfil this dream!
Most important sponsors : Bits for Kids, foundation “El Dinero Encontrado”, Rotary Club Antwerpen-Oost, Engineers without Frontiers and our  faithful foster parents : many thanks!

(*) Koia was a local “king” (traditionally head of a village, region or community) who was completely dedicated to his people. He died in 2011.

Projects

There is a lot to do! Our means are very limited: we chose to concentrate on the most urgent and realizable projects in education and health.

Long term projects

Apart from the running projects, which demand a continuity and consequently have to be financed  over a longer period of time, we are planning a lot of other initiatives :

  • Nursing-homes on the islands. For all the islands there is only one doctor available. He works from a hospital at Bubaque. Most villages on the islands don’t even have a nursing-home to provide urgent first aid care. Estimated cost price per nursing-post : XOF 1.000.000 (€ 1.525,00).  Maintaining and replenishing  the necessary medicine  : XOF 250.000 (€ 381,00) annually.
  • Training of teachers. We need more qualified teachers for the secondary school. The training of the teachers is a priority. Estimated cost price : XOF 750.000 (€ 1.150,00) per student per year.
  • Training of doctors and nurses .  We urgently need a qualified medical staff. At the moment there is only one doctor for all the islands (about 20.000 inhabitants), but he is losing his motivation, as this task is far too heavy for only one person. The nurses learned their trade through practice which means that, though their dedication is unquestioned, the quality of the health-care may be doubtful, also because the nurses sometimes have to replace the doctors. Cost price : medicine/university level or nursing /technological university or college XOF 1.000.000 (€ 1.500) annually.
  • Vocational education. Not everyone has the talent to become a teacher or nurse. But there is also need of skilled labourers and craftsmen. This is why we are planning to start a kind of “vocational school”. This means that a craftsman (male or female) takes charge of 3 apprentices and this during a period of 3 years in order to teach them a certain trade , such as plumber, electrician, mechanic (e.g. repair of boat and car engines and aggregates), cabinet-worker (rattan), joinery. A theoretical education of minimum 1 day a week will later enable them to function as independent craftsmen (first grade : reading, writing, arithmetic;  second grade idem; third grade idem but also reading of plans (schemes) and draw up specifications). Cost price : XOF 500.000 per student per year (€ 750).
  • Building a vocational school. In order to group all the students that take a vocational training and to secure the material placed at the disposal of the school by the NGO, we need a building with several classes and workshops. This makes a more thorough control possible and it may prevent teachers from exploiting the students by making them  do private errands, prepare food or perform other tasks that have little to do with the training itself. In February 2010 we started a training-course for sewing and knitting techniques and we already have a problem to put all the material that was donated by sympathizers in Belgium into store. We expect the vocational training of electricians, bricklayers, joiners, etc. to cause even more problems concerning storage . Estimated cost for the building and fitting up :  € 10.000,00 (65.000.000 FCFA).
  • Distress Fund. We urgently need to start a distress fund for those groups of the population that were forces to leave their villages due to catastrophes (temporary housing, food, help with rebuilding …..). Minimum required starting capital : XOF1.000.000 (€ 1.500). Estimated annual expenditure : XOF 500.000 (€ 765,00).
  • School equipment : the schools there is a constant shortage of educational appliances : all writing material (paper, school exercise-books, ballpoints, pencils, pencil-sharpers, erasers, colour-pencils), chalk, textbooks, satchels (book-bags), school-desks, …. Estimated annual cost price : XOF 1.000.000 (€ 1.530,00).
  • Next phase concerning the roofed-in market . In order to finish the covering in of the whole market we need another € 17.000. The first phase was completed successfully in 2005. The next phase, fortification of the foundations, raising the existing pillars and the roofing, is the most expensive one : € 10.000. The third phase consists of the finishing off and will cost about € 7.000,00.
  • Sports : to offer the youngsters meaningful  leisure activities in order to keep them “off the streets”(to prevent them from being up to mischief)) the local football team needs to be supported. We’d like  to provide equipment (shoes, stockings, T-shirts, etc.) and a first-aid-kit.