Faber November 2008

Name: Emily Faber
Post: Dassa
Contact: 97.62.80.64
Pickup Location: Cotonou
Project Description: A lunch program for disadvantaged girls exists at CEG1 of Dassa. The over seeing teacher approached Dassa’s Peace Corps volunteer for aid in expanding the program. Many of the girls come from single parent or farming households, families that generally do not meet minimum living standards. A few of the girls are orphans. The goals of this program are to promote general health practices and to motivate at-risk girls to stay in school. The program hopes to accomplish these goals by implementing a series of activities. First, the girls will receive training in rabbit farming and financial management. These activities will provide financial resources necessary for meal and school fees. The girls will receive financial management training in order to improve their fiscal responsibility as it relates to the new earned rabbit farm income. Lastly the girls will receive Life Skills training to improve their HIV/AIDS and STD knowledge. This will provide them with the ability and power to make healthy sexual choices. GAD’s role in this program would be to donate the money to buy the first 15 female rabbits.
Dates of Project: November 2008 – June 2009
Number of People Involved: 40 female students, 2 male professors, 1 female PCV
Budget:

Item Number Cost
Female Rabbits 15 x 3,000 each 45,000
Total 45,000

Amount Requested: 45,000 CFA

Comments

GAD Coordinator Comments: This looks like a great project. Emily’s proposal is a little unclear, but I spoke to her about this before she submitted it, and she indicated that the two involved professors will be assisting the girls with the rabbit farming, and the proceeds from rabbit sales will go directly to the girls. In a situation like this I think the financial management classes are essential to the success of the project, but I still wish the details were a little clearer on how the money will be divided between the girls. I also wonder if they have a plan for keeping the rabbits alive over the summer. I recommend funding after receiving satisfactory clarification from Emily on these points.

GAD Finance Comments: I agree that there should be a clarification on how the rabbit farming will assist the girls. I do understand that the rabbits are supposed to earn the girls money, but how so? Also, how is Emily and her partners hoping to combine the Life Skills traning and health practices along with the primary goal? And will the Life Skills training be continued after the PCV leaves? I think this a great idea for a project, but I agree there is more clarification needed on the project, and how each part will be working together.

GAD Specialist Comments: I agree with both of you. Additionally, I’ll be curious to know who came up with this idea and if there’s an outlet for the sale of the rabbits in Dassa.

Updates

GAD Coordinator Comments: I spoke with Emily on 24/11. She said she was approached by the English professor at CEG1 Dassa, who was already working with other professors and students on a school lunch program for disadvantaged girls, and who asked for her advice on how to expand the program. They initially discussed a chicken farming project, but decided to sell rabbits instead because the Biology professor has rabbit farming experience. Emily also stated that there is a market for rabbit in Dassa; it is served at the Auberge and other local hotels, and people buy it often enough to support two other successful rabbit farms in town. Apparently people eat a lot of rabbit in Dassa.

Initially Emily, the English professor, and the Biology teacher will conduct an intensive rabbit farming training for four of the older girls, who will in turn serve as peer educators and assist Emily and the Professors when they conduct the training for the rest of the girls in the program. When asked about the structure of the program and the relationship between the lifeskills training and the rabbit farming, Emily stated that before beginning the actual rabbit farming all program participants will take part in a series of formations, and in order to participate in the rabbit farming activities they will need to pass a test on the content of these formations. The tested material will include the lifeskills classes and the financial management training in addition to information about raising rabbits. Additional lifeskills training will continue throughout the course of the year in regular sessions conducted by Emily and the professors.

Emily said that at least half of the rabbits won’t be sold; instead they will provide a source of protein for the participants in the school lunch program. The rabbits that aren’t eaten for lunch will be sold. The proceeds of the rabbit sales won’t go directly to the girls; the money will first be used to pay for expenses related to the rabbits (rabbit food, cage maintenance, etc.). Any remaining funds will be saved until the beginning of the next academic year, at which point Emily and the Professors overseeing the program will put the money towards the school fees of that year’s program participants. However, Emily stated that a rabbit farm usually takes a while to reach its optimal production capacity, so it probably will not be profitable in the first year. All funds generated by the program will be saved in a joint bank account that will be put in Emily and the English professor’s name.

This project also has a business club component; in addition to their training on personal money management, the girls will also make decisions about how the rabbits are marketed and sold. With the guidance of Emily and the participating professors, the girls will develop and execute a plan for the sale of the remaining rabbits (this might be a contract with one of the hotel kitchens or another local restaurant, or direct sales, or some other option).

Over the course of the summer the rabbits will be maintained by school lunch program participants who are residents of Dassa. If none of the program participants stay in Dassa for the summer, the rabbits will be maintained by a helper hired out of the money generated by the program.

Emily believes that the program is sustainable and will continue after she leaves, even if she is not replaced. The English professor already integrates lifeskills training into his English classes; after assisting Emily with the sessions this year he should be in a position to continue the trainings on his own. Additionally, the English professor and Biology professor already have experience running a successful school lunch program.

Project has been approved.

Closing Report

Brief Project Description: A lunch program for disadvantaged girls exists at CEG1 of Dassa. The overseeing teacher approached Dassa’s Peace Corps Volunteer for aid in expanding the program.

Many of the girls come from single parent or farming households, families that generally do not meet minimum living standards. A few of the girls are orphans.

The goals of this program are to promote general health practices and to motivate at-risk girls to stay in school. The program hopes to accomplish these goals by implementing a series of activities. First the girls will receive training in rabbit farming and financial management. These activities will provide financial resources necessary for meals and school fees. The girls will receive financial management training in order to improve their fiscal responsibility as it relates to the new earned rabbit farm income. Lastly the girls will receive Life Skills training to improve their HIV/AIDS and STD knowledge. This will provide them with the ability and power to make healthy sexual choices.

GAD’s role in this program would be to donate the money to buy the first 15 female rabbits.

Number of People Involved and Age Range: 40 students (12 – 18), 2 teachers, 1 PCV

What were the goals/objectives of this project?
1. To motivate at-risk girls to stay in school by providing them with training in rabbit husbandry.
2. To teach the girls HIV/AIDS prevention.

Were these goals/objectives met? To date the rabbits are doing great! The students are working hard at keeping the rabbits fed and properly medicated, as well as keeping cages and the enclosures clean. The first litter of baby rabbits will be born towards the end of May and sold in July.

What were the strengths of this project? The greatest strengths of this program are the determination of the teachers to make the program work and the students love to work with the rabbits.

What were the challenges/weaknesses of this project? The greatest challenge has been working with the director of the school. Before we started the program we talked with the director of the school to impress upon him the importance of the students in the program staying in school so the program will succeed, however he continues to send students home who have not paid their school fees. This makes attendance very sporadic.

Another challenge is that about half of the original girls in the program got placed at another school. In order to fill the 40 spots about 18 boys were let into the program. This adds for interesting dynamics that were not there before. I am very impressed by most of the boys by how seriously they take the program, sometimes, more so than the girls.

Do you consider this project completed? Yes

Budget:

Item Number Cost
Female Rabbits 15 45,000 CFA
Total 45,000 CFA
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