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Poverty Alleviation Projects

2006 Projects

October 10, 2006

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your October 2006 report for The $10 Club.

On a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), my friend, colleague, and $10 Club member Ian Redmond had occasion to visit the village of Kisala-Ngoma, on the edge of the Madiakoko Mountains, the forested chain protruding into DRC from Cabinda. Ian was seeking evidence that western lowland gorillas still survived in the region (scientific publications say they probably became locally extinct in the mid-1970s, but the local people say otherwise). Impressed by the villagers’ warmth and hospitality, Ian asked the head man of the village what was most needed. He answered, “a school and three bridges.”

The old colonial track to the edge of the forest has fallen into disrepair; Kisala-Ngoma is only accessible on foot or by motorcycle (if you are brave enough to ride across the remaining logs spanning the rivers). To build a school, villagers can obtain a permit to cut a tree, which will give the planks and beams, and they make their own bricks, but the one thing they can’t afford is the corrugated iron for a roof and other supplies.

In this large village, there are 3 sub-villages with 532 men, 575 women, 496 boys, 541 girls, and 210 other workers residing there. These workers are mostly employed as rubber-tappers in the local rubber plantation. There are many illiterate people in the village and those that surround it. Many children are not able to receive an education because of the large distance between their villages and the closest schools. If children receive an education at all, it is often ended after just a few years.

So this month, 330 of us donated $3,300 to the village of Kisala-Ngoma to build a school. Any excess funds will be used to purchase a proper blackboard, books, and other supplies. Our grant will allow for the purchase of 150 corrugated iron roofing sheets, nails, iron bars, cement, and materials transport. The remainder of materials and labor for school construction will be provided by members of the community. In fact, the villagers have already begun making the bricks. Together with local volunteers and our grant we’ll be providing a complete school in the DRC this month. Thank you.

As you may recall from our project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) two years ago, the people of this war-torn nation suffer terribly and it is ranked 167 out of the 177 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index.

As much as two-thirds of the population of DRC between the ages of 15 and 24 are not literate. The second Millennium Development Goal is to “ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.” A July 2006 UNICEF study concludes: “DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world and the lack of education is chronic. The number of children out of primary school approaches 4.7 million children, including 2.5 million girls – almost half the total number of primary-school-age children. Even outside the areas of conflict, extreme poverty puts school out of reach for many because it is too expensive. Teachers are extremely underpaid or receive no pay at all.”

Life expectancy at birth is 43 and average per person income is less that $2 per day. Subjected to years of violent conflict, the UN concludes that “the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has claimed more than 4 million lives—the greatest death toll since the Second World War…. the vast majority not from bullets but from malnutrition and disease.”

The Human Development Report continues to advise grimly that “on current trends it will take Sub-Saharan Africa until 2115 to achieve the MDG target, putting it off track by a century. The two largest centres of child deaths in Sub-Saharan Africa are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conditions are deteriorating, and Nigeria.” (Nigeria, of course, was the site of our August project.)

So once again, thank you for your tremendous and positive impact on the lives of some of the most impoverished people in the world. Our direct assistance is going to ensure that hundreds of children get the education they deserve. And with it, I hope, the knowledge that will take them out of poverty and war for decades to come.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,
Adam M. Roberts

The $10 Club is a nonprofit corporation registered in the District of Columbia.
Contributions are exempt from federal income tax under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The $10 Club 2040 Tunlaw Rd., NW Washington, DC 20007 (202) 337-3123 adam@thetendollarclub.org