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Poverty Alleviation Projects

2007 Projects

April 15, 2007

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your April 2007 report for The $10 Club.

The Central African Republic is one of the least developed countries on the planet, ranked at 172 out of 177 on the United Nations Human Development Index. There is a mere 50/50 chance that people there will survive to age 40; more than 10% of infants die at birth; and a quarter of children under five years old are malnourished.

Poor health is a significant contributor to national impoverishment and educational deficiencies, as noted in a recent story in the Financial Times: “Teachers in the Central African Republic are dying of AIDS faster than they are being trained, prompting the government to close some schools because so many teachers have died.”

Outside of the cities, forest-dwellers such as the indigenous Ba’aka people face their own social and economic hardships, especially as logging companies infiltrate the region and the commercial trade in wildlife meat increases. The Ba’aka still rely on the forests for their sustenance including both food and medicines, and they maintain a rich history of traditional knowledge.

However, availability of conventional medicine can add to the traditional remedies already employed by the Ba’aka communities to help protect them and their children against diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.

The International Conservation and Education Fund (INCEF) works to educate and protect some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people through the production of public awareness films. INCEF believes that these films are particularly empowering because they are produced locally and in local languages.

This month, 370 of us joined together to donate $3,700 to the International Conservation and Education Fund to produce a series of short (but life-saving) educational films on three health topics of relevance to the Ba’aka people and the survival of their culture. These films will be produced locally and shown throughout Ba’aka communities in the region. Thank you.

The first film will be about the prevention and treatment of malaria and illustrate how early detection and treatment can save lives—especially among children. There is a high incidence of malaria-related mortality because parents, unaware of their health care options, often wait too long to take their children to a nurse or doctor who can provide the medical care that is needed.

The second film will be about the prevention of parasitic chigoe fleas, which can cripple both children and adults when they lay their eggs in unsuspecting people’s feet, leading to infection. It is easily preventable by wearing socks and treatable with modern medicine. INCEF will be bringing a supply of socks with them!

The third film will be about general hygiene and the treatment and prevention of other common maladies.

Our grant will enable filmmaker and editor Jéhu Olivier Bikoumou to spend a month training two local Ba’aka as they develop skills that will allow them to produce films on health care, conservation, and human rights issues. Bikoumou has worked for nearly two decades as a photographer, cameraman, director, producer, and editor in Congolese national television. He recently spent two years producing and editing documentaries for the World Health Organization on films including AIDS awareness.

The two “students”, Benoit Damale and Paul Mboko, have recently made the transition from traditional hunter-gatherers to wage earners as tourist guides within the Dzangha/Sangha Reserve. Both Benoit and Paul are highly respected members of their community, are educated, and are literate in locally used languages: Sangho, Aka, French, and some English.

When the project is completed the DVD production will be shared widely with local communities throughout the region (and I hope to have copies available for distribution to all members of The $10 Club).

We must never lose sight of the importance of local communities and traditional knowledge, and do everything we can to support indigenous cultures. As modern, Western influences impact cultures such as the Ba’aka—perhaps unavoidably—we should do our best to ensure that modern benefits are also received. It will be a noble endeavor if we can help reduce malaria and disease and improve hygiene among the Ba’aka people with our grant and the subsequent production of educational health films.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,


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