building new families for orphaned babies
Who We Are
Marie-Francette Dubach-Obe came from Cameroon to study at the University of St.Gallen (HSG) in Switzerland during the 90s. The study, as well as the linguistic - and cultural environment were very challenging. For this reason, she decided very soon to help orphans in Cameroon on their way with schooling and education.
During her studies she met a fellow student, and since then her husband, Stefan Dubach, and together with him made it possible for orphaned children in Cameroon to study at boarding schools for the last 20 years. The two have earned the money for this with entrepreneurial commitment. Initially, this was initially exporting old cars from Switzerland to Cameroon and was later replaced by a fruit import business (www.fruitpassion.ch).
For many years we limited ourselves to looking for boarding schools and paying tuition. We ran statistics who progressed well and tried to help those where we saw potential. One of the lessons learnt over many years was that the majority of teenage children wanted to leave school way before they had achieved any formal certificate. They seemed to simply lack the drive, the vision and the confidence to change their own 'destiny'.
We came to grips with this question and found out that human beings learn important basic values (hope, confidence, trust ...) during the first 2-3 years of life. This strongly indicates the importance of growing up in an "in-tact" environment. As a result, we decided to focus on providing ‘baby-orphans’ with an intact family environment. This should help them to successfully and sustainably master the opportunities in life and especially in school.
What do we want to achieve
With the above goal in mind we have started an association in Switzerland. Its purpose is to financially support the construction and operation of a "generation house" in Bissiang; South Cameroon.
In Cameroon, many parents have lost their children due to HIV / AIDS or other illnesses and/or accidents. At the same time, there are many orphans, who grow up without family structures, do not learn basic important values (love, respect, hope, trust, etc.) and therefore have only limited opportunities to ‘survive’ independently later on.
Through a family structure in the Rüschliker house of generations, orphans should receive a home and learn basic (Christian) values from an early age. The association has set itself the task to build a first house for about 12 children, 2 "parents”and grand parents. The aim is that this house can build an economic life of its own and thus be financially independent.
First step – economic life
The most important building block for this endeavor was the purchase of a brick machine, which was specially designed for the African continent and with which it is possible to produce considerably less expensive building blocks than with the conventional production method.
This machine should not only supply us with the stones for our generation house, but at the same time become the first source of income locally.
In the meantime, various garden walls and individual houses have already been built, thus generating first local income.
Later, the idea is that the 'family' grows fruits and vegetables, which they can sell locally and internationally (via Fruitpassion). We are also assessing whether we can build a small medical ward that looks to the children and, in parallel, provides their services commercially to the local population and workers from a nearby planation.
What are we doing on the ground
The initial funds we raised was for the purchase of the block-making machine and the purchase of the land. In addition came the architectural planning work for the house (pro bona work from: LUV), as well as the organization for and the implementation of the training of a 15 men strong team to learn using the block-making machine from Hydraform and build with those blocks.
At the moment we are in the process of recruiting the 'parents' and furbishing the house. The first children will move in later this year.
The plan is to develop additional sources of income. In particular, the building and operation of a small sanitary post as well as the planting and selling of vegetables and fruits. We also envisage to build our own private school at a later stage.
Who looks after the project in Cameroon?
During the whole construction phase the responsibility of our generation house in Cameroon was taken over by Etienne Bendie-Aba'a. He comes from the family of Marie-Francette Dubach-Obe and completed in 2012 his studies in France with a master's degree in Finance & Accounting. Etienne has agreed to accompany our project on site whilst he focused on starting his own business in Kribi. In Cameroon the project is run by a 'sister' association that is comprehensively registered with the ministry of social affairs and hence has the relevant authorisations to take care of orphaned children.
As we are starting the operational phase of the generation house during H2/2019 we are very happy that father Jules Koulman will take over the presidency of our local Cameroonian 'sister' association. He will be living in Bissiang and will oversee that the operations run smoothly and respective rules and regulations are adhered to.
On stand-by are nuns of the Franciscans in Kribi / Cameroon, as well as Francette and Stefan Dubach-Obe, who are on a regular basis in Cameroon. The regular visit of members of the association should ensure the lively exchange and a partnership between Bissiang and Rüschlikon. Volunteer on-site by people from Rüschlikon (young and old) should be possible at any time.