Children of Rural Africa
Children of Rural Africa (CORAfrica) was founded by Fr. Peter Obele Abue in June 2006 while he was completing a doctorate degree in International Development from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, CORAfrica and was formally granted a 501(c)3 non-profit status in the United States and initiated capital projects in Cross River State. Then in 2011, CORAfrica received further support in Nigeria first with the National Planning Commission under the Bilateral and Economic Commission and later with the Corporate Affairs Commission. Since then, CORAfrica has been operating in two main locations in Cross River State: Ipong-Obudu, and Mbube-Ogoja. The organization was initially founded based on the belief that rural children, particularly the indigent, deserved support and access to quality educational opportunities. That belief still very much drives the organization, and CorAfrica has further expanded it’s thinking since it was founded. Through experience, we’ve learned that support systems were crucial to enabling maximal educational attainment. To that end, CorAfrica developed a strategy of integrating health, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), agriculture, and economic empowerment components into our educational efforts. Thus the model of CorAfrica was born, and the organization has been growing steadily since. In the fall of 2014, the organization hired a full-time US Country Director whose addition to the team has accelerated the growth of the organization.
Mission, Vision, and Values
CorAfrica’s mission is to transform stagnant, neglected rural communities into viable social and economic centers by increasing opportunity, strengthening family and community structures, and improving social services. Programs will focus on quality education, sanitation and hygiene, health, and sustainable agriculture, and economic opportunity.
CorAfrica’s vision is vibrant, health, rural African communities where children, youth, and family find opportunities to grow and thrive locally.
Our Core Values are:
- Kinship and connection unite us all in one global human family that we need to stand in solidarity to protect, care for, and preserve.
- Catholic social justice principles that drive us to selflessly serve those less fortunate.
- Investing in People, especially children, is the most powerful way to shape the future.
- Every child deserves the opportunity to achieve their dreams no matter where they were born.
CorAfrica uses education has its focal point of entry around which a wide variety of interventions is based. We use Community Education Centers (CEC’s) where children and community members alike have access to high quality opportunities for growth, health, and learning. Each CEC includes a school – nursery, primary, and secondary – where children can receive high-quality, dynamic education that focuses on critical thinking skills, problem solving, creativity, and independence. The standard curriculum is then supplemented by theoretical and practical training in WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and health topics, life and employment skills, and sustainable modern agriculture. The CEC’s benefit the entire community by providing families with access to skills acquisition, a health clinic where all children and pregnant mothers are treated free of charge, clean water that runs throughout the campus, agricultural training, and economic empowerment through access to our savings and loan program. This holistic model provides a dynamic and flexible approach to meeting each community’s unique needs. Our goal is to improve the economic and social opportunities for youth in rural communities by ensuring they are finishing school with tangible skills, healthy practices, and the analytical capacity to thrive. Our CEC’s serve as centers of impact from which the entire community benefits, particularly children and youth.
We are currently working on two campuses in Ipong-Obudu and Mbube-Ogoja where we are implementing this model and developing a theoretical framework and practical package of best practices and interventions so that our model can be duplicated in schools and communities across the state, region, and nation.
Focus Area: Sustainable Agriculture
All of our agricultural activities are based on the Songhai Model of integrated farming as developed by Songhai Farms.
- We are developing Demonstration Farms at both campuses in Ipong and Mbube where students receive hands-on training and introduction to sustainable forms of modern agriculture. The goal is to get more youth people excited about a future in agriculture and to give them skills that could help them be self-employed after graduation.
- We also have community education programs at each Demonstration Farm where community members can participate in workshops and trainings that will help them improve and grow their own practice.
- CorAfrica provides extended camps during the long holiday for children and youth interested in deepening their education in sustainable agriculture. These camps are open to all children and youth, and older students can specialize in topics of particular interest to them. The focus of these camps is on the economic viability of sustainable agriculture and providing students with practical skills to be farmers themselves.
Focus Area: Health
- Through our clinics, we provide free health care to our students, to all children under 5 years old in the community, and to pregnant mothers. Our clinic serves the needs of the entire community, but our focus is on the health of maternal and infant health and under-5 child health.
- As part of our focus on children, our clinics’ health workers practice Integrated Community Case Management in caring for children in the community. The focus is on identifying the most common childhood maladies, referring them to proper care, and following up with the family after care has been received.
- Our health programs also aim to confront the epidemic of HIV/AIDS in Cross River State, which has the second highest HIV prevalence in the nation. We do this through a multi-sectoral approach that includes reproductive health education, economic empowerment of HIV-affected individuals and families, health care, monitoring, and follow up, and supporting children whose families are affected by HIV to stay in school.
Focus Area: Economic Empowerment
- Each CEC includes a skills acquisition/adult education center where community members can attend classes, trainings, and workshops on entrepreneurial skills, business management, and trade skills.
- Students in our schools are provided with the Life and Employment Skills Curriculum Addition (LESCA), which improves their employment skills and provides tangible skills that can be employed after graduation to provide greater economic opportunity.
- We operate the CorAfrica Loans and Savings System (CLASS) through which small cooperatives are formed, given trainings in personal financial management, business management, and record keeping, and have access to micro loans to start or expand their enterprises. CorAfrica provides training, mentorship, follow-up, and skills development, and we connect groups with microfinance institutions to give them access to capital through the national Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise Development Fund (MSMED Fund).
Focus Area: WASH
- We provide clean water throughout our campuses using boreholes and water distribution systems
- Students in our schools are provided with sensitization and practical education on hygiene and sanitation topics, including educating them about the dangers of unclean water
- Our schools provide students with practical examples of hand washing, hygienic toilets, and water collection and treatment.
- We also provide community education sessions on clean water, hygienic bathroom practices, and personal hygiene.
Focus Area: Education
Education is the bedrock on which all other programs are based. It also serves as the entry point through which to education students on topics normally outside the realm of traditional formal education: health, WASH, agriculture, and economic skills. All other focus areas depend on the schools and adult education centers to run, but we also do a few education-specific activities to specifically address educational standards and learning outcomes.
- We provide Professional Development opportunities for our teachers and schools staff to ensure that they are engaging students, promoting creativity, independence, and critical thinking, and that they are using the most up to date teaching techniques to develop children into holistic, analytical thinkers.
- CorAfrica’s schools limit class sizes and enforce teacher discipline to maximize the quality of class room time provided to students
- We implement a holistic and engaging curriculum that emphasizes independent thought, cooperation, creativity, analysis, problem solving, and student initiative rather than memorization and repetition.
- We offer camps for students and youth during the long holiday in Calabar, Cross River State where students are exposed to a wide array of professions and possibilities for their future. The goal of these camps is to expose rural youth to the broader world, expand their thinking, and encourage them to dream big. These children meet people from outside their communities and take the lessons they’ve learned back to their communities and schools.
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Strategy 1: Community Integration
Community involvement is mainstreamed into every component of our work with the goal of creating an informed citizenry on topics of education, health, life skills, sanitation, and economic growth.
Strategy 2: Holistic Approach
Education is the primary theme, but our model also uses supporting components to ensure that families have the incentive to keep their children in school and that entire communities can grow and thrive.
Strategy 3: Targeting the Most Vulnerable
We serve entire communities, but we place the most emphasis on children who are affected by HIV/AIDS, families living in extreme poverty, single-parent households, and other extremely vulnerable individuals.
Strategy 4: Multi-Level Partnership
We work with partners at all levels and of all types – academic, government, faith-based, international, national, and local – to promote collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and sustainability.
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