Cameroon Association Against Epilepsy (ACCE)
Project: Tomato Growing Project
In 1997 we became aware of the scourge of epilepsy in Cameroon; even the people themselves were terrified, since the illness is given an air of mysticism.
The Remptor Hominis group with pastoral charge of the parishes of Nyamanga and Mbangassina, was given responsibility to take initiatives with the aim of combating epilepsy, which was widespread in the diocese and about which nothing had been done to recognize the illness or to fight it. Research showed that in the area, and in particular in the village of Bilomo, epilepsy prevalence was 5.8% of the population, which was twice the average occurrence. By 1999 we had begun regular monthly clinics, and each person with epilepsy has since had a file at our Health Centre, and each one is being personally followed.
By 2003 two-thirds of our patients had no further seizures. It was at that moment that we began to reflect on the possibility of an association of which the main promoters would be those with epilepsy themselves. In 2004 young members of the association began to meet once a month and to pay a donation towards our central funds. They also had their first experiences of working in the community plot raising watermelons.
At present ACCE has more than 150 members and our Health Centre (CSC) provides services to more than 700 people with epilepsy. We continue to organise activities to help them become self sufficient with the help of revenue from the community plots, through the production of tomatoes, maize and cassava. Now we are pleased to have the support of the Promising Strategies Program in our tomato-growing project.
Objectives of the Project
- People with epilepsy are considered as the living dead, for whom it is useless to give even the smallest help. The community plots, like the other initiatives undertaken, act as a challenge for the whole community to show, firstly to themselves and then to society, that a person with epilepsy is still an entire person.
- The biggest problem is to combat misguided beliefs so that we can bring about change. The target population is, of course, those with epilepsy but also all of society, which must change its attitude, in a concrete fashion, towards people with epilepsy and their illness.
Schedule of Activities
For the first season we will cultivate a pacel of land of 2,500 square metres. Agricultural activity in our region, being dependant on the rains, means that all preparation of the land must be carried out during June 2007.
The land will be cleared and cleaned up. This will allow us to choose the position of the nursery plot and to prepare the land for the pricking out of the plants. During July the soil will be dug over and the beds will be prepared in preparation for sewing of the seed in the nursery beds in mid-August.
Planting into permanent beds will take place early in September and we expect to begin harvesting the tomatoes by mid-October.
Harvesting, by hand, will continue with fruits being gathered once or twice each week for 3 to 5 weeks. If the land is well maintained, the haul could be about 300 20-litre buckets for the plot of 2500 square metres.
Who will be involved?
- Human resources will be mainly parents of people with epilepsy, the people with epilepsy themselves who are members of the Association, each group involved in one parcel of land. They will work three days a week.
- The other parish groups (catechists, trainers, etc) will work voluntarily four days each month
- The Members of the Executive of the Association will be available each day to coordinate the work, on the basis that they will work mornings only.
- A member of the Health Centre will be available during the work in case of necessity.
- All these people will be working voluntarily for the present.
Sale of Produce
Buyers come regularly to Yaoundé, a town situated 150km from the place of production. Transport will have to be booked and the less soft the fruit is, the better it will travel.
With the profit from this project we will be able to purchase tools and to invest in other projects with the ultimate aim of autonomy.