While living as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bandjoun, a village in West Cameroon, I met Eric Kuate Tegho. Since the day I met him, I have been constantly inspired by Eric’s motivation to improve the livelihoods of his neighbors and community members. His vision of rural growth has evolved into what we now call Association de Volontaires Communautaires pour le Développement Rurale (AVCDR): an entrepreneurship training center and rabbit cooperative with 150 members and more than 100 other adults and youth trained in business development and farm management.
Using rabbit-raising as a starter business idea, the center has trained people in developing and managing their own income generating activities. Thanks to Eric, I know more about the fertilizing potential of rabbit manure than I ever expected.
The AVCDR has proven a sustainable and replicable model. The model of entrepreneurship and rabbit raising has since been adopted by government and community initiatives working with youth and disabled people. Rabbits have become a primary source of income for dozens in this rural Cameroonian community and a source of community pride and inspiration. I was replaced by a great volunteer named Nathalia Cubillos, who has continued to develop the center and help in managing funds.
Unfortunately, in June of 2017, Cameroon was hit with an outbreak of Rabbit Viral Hemorrhagic Disease (VHD), a fatal and highly contagious virus previously unrecorded in Cameroon. The disease has since killed more than 90% of AVCDR members' rabbits and threatened the livelihoods they have worked so hard to grow. When Eric called to tell me about the epidemic, one of the 70+-year-old cooperative members had just left in tears and others arrived in a panic while we talked. The impact has been traumatic for this group of resilient farmers.
Luckily, a rabbit industry can rebound after a VHD outbreak with proper hygiene and management. The government has fast-tracked importing a VHD vaccine and Eric has learned farm improvements from other countries that have suffered VHD outbreaks. Since Eric's farm is the 'selection farm' for the cooperative and rabbit raisers across the region, ensuring quality breeding and livestock quality, reestablishing its role and prominence will be an essential first step. But rebuilding the selection farm and modernizing it to avoid future contamination requires resources to replace the rabbit stock and modernize the farm. That's where Eric and the Bandjoun community need your support.
We are hoping to raise the $7,000 needed to relaunch the new and improved AVCDR by 10/15/17 (this campaign was officially launched 8/17/17) in order to give the group a chance to rebuild quickly and reclaim their market share (for full budget, please see below).
Anything you are able to contribute will help this hardworking group recover from their shocking loss. Your donation will not only help with the recovery but will help ensure that AVCDR will be more sustainable and resilient in the future. Thank you for your support!
Please help spread the word!
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FULL BUDGET: $15,000 (GoFundMe's portion: $7,000)
Eric Kuate Tegho, AVCDR co-founder and president, has estimated a full budget of $15,000 for relaunching AVCDR. This covers:
- Cleaning and modernizing the farm facilities ($3890)
- Feed pellet machine to avoid contamination from grain distributors ($3046)
- Restocking the rabbit population ($2240)
- Training 80 cooperative members in beekeeping for honey and beeswax to diversity AVCDR income ($2240)
- Labor ($1430)
- CCDR land registration to guarantee ownership ($1078)
- Service motorcycle to visit cooperative members and keep rabbit farms separate ($762)
- Working capital ($556)