Cameroon Women Plan Soy Cafe To Fight Malnutrition, Earn Income

Published on 24 December 2013

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by Office of the Spokesperson


Washington, D.C.

Peace Corps Volunteer Marissa Falk Stands With A Group Planning To Open A Cafe
Peace Corps Volunteer Marissa Falk Stands With A Group Planning To Open A Cafe

Peace Corps health volunteer Marissa Falk of Madison, Wisconsin, is working with a group of Cameroonian women to start a soy cafe that will help them support their families and promote healthy eating in their community.

Nearly 26 of every 30 people in Falk’s community say they lack a consistent daily source of protein. Meat sold in the region is often unaffordable for most families, and as a result, they suffer from malnutrition. Soy is a protein-rich alternative to animal products widely thought to have several health benefits.

“By preparing the women to manage all aspects of the business, the benefits of the project will continue to reach the population: Soy products will be consumed by community members daily, and the women will earn an independent living,” said Falk, a graduate of the University of Michigan.

The cafe will be situated along a main road that connects two Cameroon towns and will serve a number of soy products, including soy milk and tofu. As the women prepare to launch the cafe, they will visit with families throughout the community who are suffering from malnutrition to educate them about the importance of protein intake and soy as an affordable and nutritious food option available in their own community.

“This project also has the potential to provide the women with money so that they can manage both their own lives and their families’ lives,” Falk said. “We hope that soy cooperative members will be role models for girls and women in the community.”

A portion of the funds for the project will be raised through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, which supports Peace Corps volunteer community projects worldwide. To receive funding through the Partnership Program, a community must make at least a 25 percent contribution to the total project cost and outline success indicators. This helps to ensure community ownership and a greater chance of long-term sustainability.

Partnership Program donations will help the women purchase a stove, glasses, pots, utensils, chairs and tables for the cafe, and the local community has donated land and labor for farming as well as commercial space for the cafe. Community members have also offered to teach the women soy planting techniques and have volunteered their time to prepare the land for planting.

There are 214 volunteers in Cameroon working in the areas of education, environment, agriculture, health, business and information technology. While in Cameroon, volunteers learn to speak the local languages, including Pidgin English and French. More than 3,470 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Cameroon since the program was established in 1962.



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Posted 2013-12-24 14:32:00