WHO WE ARE ?
CACAE Association was founded by a French entrepreneur and Santomean friends living in São Tomé city, at the heart of a beautiful island, unfortunately one of the poorest country in Africa.
THE CONTEXT : WHY THIS PROJECT ?
In São Tomé, we are surrounded by happiness and smiling people. But it shall not hide the main problem that people are facing : lack of access to water and electricity, lack of access to education, high unemployment rate, and nutrition problems, as some people only have one proper meal per day.
Most families live in wooden dwellings with no access to water; they spend hours every week getting water at the pump and washing the clothes at the wash house. Young children are often helping with chores... including carrying water !
Due to lack of birth control, the children outnumber the adults, and there are not enough kinder gardens to take care of them. Therefore, instead of keeping busy in a clean and safe environment, we often see them playing in the dirt, by the road.
WE WITNESSED THIS UNFORTUNATE REALITY AND WE DECIDED TO REACT
As we are based locally, we are in direct contact with the population.
We started our activities by accident, in 2017, just by offering a shelter to young coconut sellers who got wet by pouring rain. Then things added up... We already had a classroom (teaching night classes), so we only had to buy some color pencils and prepare some biscuits.
THE START : THE SOCIAL CENTER
In 2018, we informed some families that we would welcome children and organize activities for them : drawing, games, mathematics classes (with a great French volunteer),.
In 2019, we officially started to sponsor 4 children and gave them full scholarships, providing financial support for school tuitions, uniforms, providing daily breakfasts and lunches, as well as helping to buy clothing and supporting extra-curricular activities, such as capoeira and sprint canoeing.
in 2020, because of the epidemic crisis, we asked the children to take turn (they gather by age group and friendships) in order to come to the center. About 20 children would regularly pay us a visit, stopping by to say "hello", have a cup of tea, or play a game and then we would still take care of up to 8 children daily.
Because the borders were closed and because our main sponsor was, at the time, a local travel agency, we started facing a very difficult time. Then we decided to create this website, and to make contacts with all our friends abroad, and to ask for support, either financial donations, or direct support.
Between 2020 and 2021, through direct contacts and marketing, We managed to collect about 3000 euros, which enabled us to keep providing food and support for the kids and families.
In 2022, the recovery of the tourism sector was complete and we could resume to a normal activity. But since the kids had grown up, and since their neighbors, brothers and friends were also eager to participate in our activities, then we decided to evolve and adapt to a new strategy.
STRATEGY FOR 2022 – 2023 AND FOR THE YEARS TO COME
Now, we are using the infrastructures available at the Bairro do Hospital: the tennis court, an abandonned space for capoeira (were local youth use to play indoor soccer, and the local youth center where we play chess and were after school classes are taught.
We recruit local young “teachers” to organize and lead the activities. They receive a monthly compensation (low for Western standards but quite decent for local standards)
Whenever possible we provide cookies and juices on week ends and whenever requested we provide support for transportation (meetings with other clubs, chess tournament…).
Note that we also indirectly support after school classes, by providing classroom materials, such as chairs, tables, black board... and even logistic support for a group of young Portuguese volunteers teaching classes in the center.
THE PROJECTS THAT WE WANT TO DEVELOP
In the coming years, our organization aims to establish several initiatives. These include :
- Opening a library, which already has a collection of books but requires the recruitment of a librarian who can also read stories to children.
- Setting up a computer room that can be furnished with second-hand computers or spare parts, where we can organize workshops to teach people how to build and maintain computers.
- Sponsoring our own teachers who can offer free after-school classes and adult literacy programs.
- Collaborating with a local sprint canoe club, which was one of the remarkable features of São Tomé during the last Olympic Games.
- Last but not least, we want to create a girls' soccer team, and to do so, we require financial support for equipment and to hire a trainer.
If you like to keep updated about our activities, feel free to subscribe to our newsletter. If you like to support our work and help us provide better opportunities for the children, do not hesitate to check the page : How to help