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Cane Rat Rearing

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“My wife and friends abandoned me because I was walloping in poverty. I had no place in the community. Simolium damnosium bites locally called “Mutmut” deformed my skin and life for me was senseless,” said Paul Bidyme. But Heifer International Cameroon’s support to him under a cane rat scheme through his Groupe d’initiative Commune de Sante de Batombe converted his sorrows into joy. Paul, 36, lived with his mother Ngomune Christine, a widow and his six year old daughter Ngomme Christine Biyha at Batombe some 5km from Edea, in the littoral region of Cameroon.

His father’s death in 1987 led to the beginning of his frustrations. He dropped out of school. He ventured to automobile mechanic, carpentry and welding. He did not graduate from any. No relative was willing to give him any financial assistance. Paul’s dreams of providing medical aid to his ailing mother failed. In 2002, Paul was earning 4000FCFA (£5.4) a week from doing odd jobs. “That was not enough as we drudged day in-week out for a complete meal.

Our annual harvest hardly exceeded 1200kg cassava, 100kg cocoyam, 50kg melon (egusi) and 60kg maize,” he said. His family was left in the hands of on lookers. “In 2004, I got married to Youmba Ernestine [was she 22 years old then or now] (22 years) with the hope she will provide a helping hand to my mother in farm work. [But in]just eight months she divorced me,” said Paul. Paul was dejected and his family was a constant visitor at the Batombe Health Centre for recurrent health problems due to malnutrition. “The 50.000FCFA (£68) earned through sales of transformed cassava was insufficient for my children’s school needs, nutritional and health emergencies,” Paul’s mother Ngomune Christine added. Paul like others in his community needed help to get out of poverty.

In 2004, he became a member of the Groupe d’initiative Commune de Sante de Batombe. In 2006, the group members asked Heifer International Cameroon for assistance to start a cane rat rearing project. In 2007, they were lucky to be retained for assistance. The first part of the aid came as training on cane rat husbandry, leadership, group dynamics, gender equality, HIV-AIDS, record keeping and report writing. At the end of those capacity building sessions, each group member was rewarded with four cane rats (one male and three females), improved maize and melon seeds, a sprayer and a hand cart as a Heifer International gift. Paul was particularly interested in putting all his knowledge into action. He farmed as if for the first time, applying manure from the animals to his farms daily. “In the area of food crop production our family witnessed a progressive boost. I expanded our family farm to one and a half hectares and with the improved seeds and agricultural equipment provided, our harvest miraculously increased from 1200kg to 4000kg for cassava, 100kg to 300kg for cocoyam, 50kg to 150kg of melon (egusi) and from 50kg to 600kg for maize,” said Paul. With hard work and the support of his family he increased his cane rat farm to eight animals. From the marketing of cane rats and food crops his annual income stood at 282,000FCFA (£383.6 [WHEN]). He diversified his income and started pig farming and also started a palm tree nursery with 300 seedlings.

“With enough production of food crops and cane rats, our nutrition also improved in quality and quantity. With income we easily buy essential ingredients such as tomatoes as well as fish and meat and I slaughter a cane rat once in two months to supplement our diet,” Paul said. The family was not only healthy but their visits to hospital decreased. He opened his doors to poor people in his community and gained a lot of respect from his neighbors “Now I am the Vice President of Batombe Block II Community Development Association-a role reserved for elites and notables and a member of the village consultative board committee. When neighbors resort to me for advice, I recount the days I had no place in the community because of poverty. With my status, I have already arranged for marriage to another wife,” said Paul with pride. To promote gender equity Paul persuaded his community to put two women, Mde Ndemda Jane and Mpurbe Marie, on the development committee. The community leader Ndemba Dieudonne lauded Paul for helping develop their community.

Today Bidyme Paul is the brain child behind the “Keep Batombe Village Clean” campaign. This is a monthly campaign, in which residents come out to clean up the village. He is also encouraging the farmers to farm with trees in order to improve the soil fertility. Paul has shown his gratefulness to the project by passing on the gift of cane rats and food crops to other community members. He has shared knowledge with 18 people from two groups (Association Familial de Tibra and Groupe Profemak de Kakanjock) on cane rat husbandry and shared 20kg of maize seeds with six families in the community.

Enama Pie Claude, president of Groupe d’initiative Commune de Sante de Batombe had this to say of Send A Cow/ Heifer International Cameroon after observing the remarkable changes that Paul and his group members had made in the community. “This assistance is special to us because of the human value given to development, We are thankful to Heifer International Cameroon for having not only our well being in mind but that of our environment,” he concluded.

Paul and his community members have pledged to venerate all the 12 corner stone’s of Heifer International Cameroon in the village and beyond as a way of saying thank you to the funding organizations of Heifer International Cameroon.

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posted @ 2:30 PM,


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