Having breakfast can change a life!
When Quebec’s African diaspora mobilizes itself for the well-being of the continent’s children
The Club des petits déjeuners africains (CAPD) was the initiative of a philanthropist from the African diaspora who has been living in Quebec since 2000.
Jean-Raymond Momo, of Cameroonian origin, says to have been inspired by his own welcome, and more particularly the role of school boards in the organization of cafeterias. He decided to mobilize the members of his community and of the diaspora to improve academic success and maintain the presence of children in school through nutrition while contributing to the economic development of women.
Lynda Rey : How would you define the role and mission of the CAPD Foundation?
Jean-Raymond Momo: Our mission is to promote the health and education of children in Africa by offering rich and nutritious breakfasts in classrooms, as well as contributing to the creation of jobs for women working in school cafeterias through solidarity-based projects co-created with the students’ parents.
Lynda Rey : How do you identify the issues to which you respond?
Jean-Raymond Momo: According to the 2018 report on the state of food and nutrition security in the world, Africa is without a doubt the region where the prevalence of malnutrition is the highest, with a rate of around 20%. Concretely, this means that one out of five children goes to school on an empty stomach. In fact, many parents cannot provide for the nutritional needs of their school-going children. Most children, whose parents are living in extreme poverty, end up missing school or putting an end to their education to work with their parents. The rate of absence is even more significant for young girls. In the long term, this situation gets in the way of education, health and the economic development of the countries concerned. According to a study by the World Food Program (WFP), for each dollar invested in school nutrition, three dollars are gained.
Furthermore, poverty particularly affects women working in unstable conditions, who are underpaid and have very few opportunities to generate income and flourish at all levels.
Faced with these issues, I strongly believe that investing in school nutrition goes beyond feeding children; it contributes to their health and their education. Feeding a child in a school context contributes to the development of human capital in the long term and helps to break the vicious cycles of poverty and of hunger. We also help women gain opportunities for income generation by contributing to the nutrition of their children through our solidarity-based projects.
As they say in Africa, for a child to grow, it takes a village!
Lynda Rey : Throughout the past few years, what developments worthy of mention should be highlighted?
Jean-Raymond Momo: Since its founding in 2010, the Club des Petits Déjeuners Africains has served over 1 500 000 breakfasts in Cameroon, Togo, the Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. These projects were made possible thanks to the involvement of the students’ parents, generous donors, as well as through a financial partnership agreement with the national government of some of these countries.
Offering a breakfast service in schools has many advantages other than offering a nutritious breakfast to the students. In fact, serving breakfast costs 20 ¢ (100 FCFA) per student and at this price offers students:
- The opportunity to reach their full potential by rendering them more apt to learn;
- Feeds the dreams and ambitions of success through education;
- Creates an incentive for school presence;
- Adds value to education;
- Allows for the improvement of family living conditions through the creation of solidarity projects.
|Intervention Zone (2018)
|Number of beneficiary children
|Number of jobs created
|Kpedévikopé Public Elementary School (Togo)
|Centre d’encadrement des orphelins Maman
|Nguéamatio Public School (Cameroon)
|École de réfugiés à Yaoundé (Cameroon)
|Centre d’encadrement des orphelins Kanaan
|BAD LONACI Academic Group (Ivory Coast)
|Berega SOSUCO School (Burkina Faso)
We have also implemented a data sheet to collect information in order to follow-up on the health and scholarly success of the children served by the CAPD.
Lynda Rey : How can the CAPD take part in the perspective of social transformation regarding empowerment? What is their role in the chain of action being undertaken?
Jean-Raymond Momo: Educating a woman, is educating an entire nation!
We work concretely towards the autonomy of women. In fact, our contacts on the ground are the women who serve breakfast to the children. We develop the menu with them and they submit their budget. The CAPD allocates the amount required to ensure the right amount of meals depending on the number of children to feed per school.
They also receive training regarding food hygiene and the planning and serving of meals. In this way, they have the tools to offer a nutritious, healthy, quality meal. Food safety is thus assured through our actions.
Lynda Rey : Can you tell us about the funding of the CAPD Foundation?
Jean-Raymond Momo: The Club Africain des Petits Déjeuners mobilizes the students’ parents, local businesses, governments as well as African communities established abroad to make the implementation of the project possible for the benefit of schools in underprivileged areas of the African continent.
In fact, 90% of funding comes from equity. However, it must be recognized that the CAPD has also benefited from the support of private donors. The success in the field is often the fruit of a partnership between a local association and the parents of students, who contribute through non-financial means such as time, material donations, etc.
Here, in Quebec, we benefit from the commitment of around forty volunteers who accompany us in the mobilization of resources. Furthermore, every member of our Board of Directors, namely Nadine Ouellet the Vice-President and Doriene Ngouné, our secretary general, invest of their time and expertise to make CAPD’s projects a success.
Our happiness is to see the sun shine in the eyes of the children we serve.
Lynda Rey: Épisode (a consultant firm) has recently published a study on the trends of Quebec’s philanthropic market. One of the conclusions is the ever-growing potential in terms of donations from new immigrants. What are your thoughts? What are your reactions to this announcement?
Jean-Raymond Momo: Of course, there is potential among new immigrants concerning donations in Quebec’s philanthropic scene. However, concerning my experience in the matter, there is a real challenge regarding the mobilization of resources, in particular in the African community. Without wanting to generalize, I have come to the conclusion that Africans who have the means to invest in solidarity-based projects seem reluctant to financially support these types of projects.
This could potentially be explained by a lack of trust. A project like CAPD received support from other communities in its beginning phase. Faced with the concrete results that we’ve achieved in the field, members of the African community believe in it more and more and their perception of the project is shifting towards the positive. This is something that needs to be encouraged. As immigrants, we are social actors both in Quebec and in our country of origin, where development issues abound and which deserve our full attention.
Lynda Rey: Is there anything you would like to add?
Jean-Raymond Momo: Wherever we find ourselves, we can contribute to transforming the lives of people. With one Canadian dollar, we can offer four breakfast meals to children, knowing that it is often their only meal of the day. With small donations, we are able to make a significant difference for the students who benefit from our program.
We can all contribute to this solidarity project for the wellbeing of the children, of their education and the autonomy of women beyond our borders!
Translation by Katherine Mac Donald
FAO, FIDA, OMS, PAM et UNICEF. 2018. L’État de la sécurité alimentaire et de la nutrition dans le monde 2018. Renforcer la résilience face aux changements climatiques pour la sécurité alimentaire et la nutrition. Rome, FAO. http://www.fao.org/3/I9553FR/i9553fr.pdf