Cameroonian women support US women

Women’s empowerment is the main aim of Sacred Link Jewelry, a micro-enterprise initiative that provides technical training, business skills and market linkage for handmade, natural jewelry. The project is based out of the Himalayan Institute’s community center in Kumbo, Cameroon.

Recently, Himalayan Institute Cameroon’s Sacred Link Jewelry program has helped empower women outside of their West African community. Two US-based organizations, Child and Family Services of Buffalo, NY and the Victims’ Intervention Program of Honesdale, PA, received some of their handmade jewelry.

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Child and Family Services reached out to the Himalayan Institute for help with their Havan House Shelter, a project that provides services for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. The Himalayan Institute responded by donating Sacred Link Jewelry from West Africa to be used for fundraising. The jewelry was sold at an event at Himalayan Institute Buffalo and 100% of the proceeds went to the Havan House Shelter.

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Jewelry was also donated to the Victims’ Intervention Program, an organization that aims to educate the community on issues of domestic and sexual violence. This is a beautiful example of women empowering other women.


HumanitarianProjectsGet Involved

Our humanitarian programs provide training and opportunities for others to build a better life for themselves and your donations allow us to reach others in the most effective way.

Carpentry School Expansion: Help us grow.

We are looking for donors to help our carpentry school grow and  acquire a much-needed piece of equipment. As a donor your name will be engraved on a plaque and installed next to the machine! Once installed we’ll email you a personalized photo >> DONATE TODAY

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A Wood Drying Kiln for Cameroon

Thanks to the support of donors like you, our center was able to construct the first wood drying kiln in the North West region of Cameroon in a town called Kumbo. 

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getting wood ready for drying in the new kiln

When the School of Carpentry and Construction (C&C) opened in 2009, local carpenters revealed that they were using unseasoned lumber to build furniture.  Unseasoned lumber is wood that is still green and contains moisture. Furniture made from unseasoned wood falls apart as the wood dries and begins to warp and twist within a few months, finish peels away.

 WiseGeek notes that without the proper humidity controls, the wood could still warp as it contracts. 

Using seasoned wood was time-consuming and expensive – it can takes 6 months for properly stacked wood to air dry in Cameroon which is cost-prohibitive for carpenters. To remedy the situation, the C&C, with local labor and a little innovation, constructed the first wood drying kiln in the region!

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The custom-made kiln, constructed with readily available material, is an enclosed space with temperature and humidity controls, provides the ideal wood drying conditions year-round. The large metal building is lined with wood panels that provide strength and insulation for stacked wood. The roof, made of corrugated sheet metal (painted black to help absorb solar heat) and transparent panels, installed at regular intervals, allows the sun to heat the sealed space.  Electric fans, installed at strategic locations, circulate the air and facilitate the removal of excess moisture from the lumber. Hot air is funneled in to the top of the kiln from the heater and cool air is circulated out of the kiln by way of a vent near the floor. For a solar design that you could build yourself, see what the folks at American Woodworker have to share.

Each type of wood has its own characteristics (based on species, moisture level, thickness of the cut, density) so the heat is adjusted to quickly evaporate the moisture from the surface of the stacks of wood, drying the lumber as evenly and as quickly as possible without warping, cracking or case-hardening. Engineers use a chart, like the one provided on the Structural Engineering Blog, for taking a range of tolerance in to consideration when selecting standard connectors for construction.

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A custom-built brick structure next to the kiln houses the sawdust burner. Sawdust, which is available in abundance from C&C, provides additional heat for the kiln. The sawdust burner, another local innovation, constructed from a 30-gallon oil drum encased in a 55-gallon oil drum – provides clean, renewable heat to take over for the sun in the rainy season.

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constructing a double-barrel sawdust burner

The double-barrel design that prevents the outside metal surfaces from getting too hot also prevents carbon monoxide poisoning, and prolongs the life of all the components.  To use, the removable inner barrel is filled with compacted sawdust that is lit with kindling in the ash cleaning draw.

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sawdust burner – close-up of outer barrel

Two exhaust pipes (also custom-made, local innovations), attached to the side of the large barrel, exhaust the smoke and allow for easy control of the heat level.

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sawdust burner: close up of ash cleaning draw

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On the day of the initial testing, the temperature of the stove quickly reached 750 degrees and stayed hot for hours, burning efficiently and cleanly. For kicks, our staff put a kettle on the burner to boil water.
People still come from all over the region to marvel at the wood drying kiln which dries wood in 4 months or less, is very cost-effective to operate, and consistently dries wood throughout the year. That’s progress!

World Water Day

Today is World Water Day, a day when we acknowledge the importance of life’s most basic yet most valuable necessity – clean water! It is a great time to take stock of our own water usage patterns and create more efficient habits around using water. Our friends at Water Use It Wisely share some great conservation tips!

The Himalayan Institute’s Humanitarian Projects in Africa, Mexico and India, dig wells, build spring-feed catchments and install other water harvesting systems to supply water to the communities in which we work.

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“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” – Jacques Cousteau

Water Changes Everything

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Inspecting a newly completed catchment in Cameroon

“Water management is often a challenge for our projects because of the harsh climatic conditions and poor infrastructure in our service areas.
It takes endurance and holistic solutions to deliver water to these communities, but once you successfully provide clean water… peoples lives truly change on every level!”

Jeff Abella, Humanitarian Projects Manager for the Himalayan Institute.

Water Project Spotlight

Today we’d like to highlight the rain water harvesting system that our team installed in Mexico to support the VIDA Project. It is located at our agricultural training center and makes use of the rain water which falls 9 months our of the year.

Click on the first image to begin the slide show. 

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If you and your friends would like to sponsor a water project, let us know and we’ll get to work for you. The Himalayan Institute is a perfect implementation partner. Email us at humanitarian@himalayaninstitute.org to get started.

Meet Clara from HI Cameroon

In honor of International Women’s Day, we celebrate all of the women who support our humanitarian programs. We take this opportunity to introduce you to one of the amazing women on site at the Himalayan Institute Cameroon. Clara Ezia is the Deputy General Manager for HIC. She helps to oversee the daily operations of the community center and handles the financial transactions and accounts.

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Clara was born on the high plateau of Cameroon’s Oku volcanic plain.  Her village is one of many isolated hamlets that become almost unreachable in the rainy season. She is the youngest of 6 children. While her mother was still pregnant, Clara’s father fell sick and passed away, leaving the family with only the income of her mother’s small farm plot.  One of Clara’s older sisters became a hairdresser and was able to make enough money to sponsor Clara through high school. Clara went on to study accounting at a professional school in Yaoundé and then landed a job with a money exchange company that eventually sent her to Kumbo to help open a new branch.  In 2010, when she heard that there was an opening at the Himalayan Institute, she was curious and applied for the job.  “I saw that in the near future, if it was supported by the local society, the Institute would really grow.”

Clara says she enjoys her colleagues and the work environment at HIC and acknowledges that it opens her mind, introducing her to jewelry making, to homeopathy and even calls her to improve her professional skills. Clara sings in a choir, enjoys watching movies, spending time with family and friends and, looks forward to the time when she can travel.

mom-and-childWe need your help to make our Humanitarian Projects succeed!

Our work establishes sustainable  programs like our center in Cameroon and the VIDA Project in Mexico.

Your tax-deductible donation of $100 provides support for two families in our VIDA Project.

Empowering Youth: Strategic efforts bear fruit in Kumbo!

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The Himalayan Institute Cameroon took part in the 2013 National Youth Day Celebration, an event that brought together thousands of people and more than one hundred youth groups in Kumbo. (Exhibits ranged from farm produce and furniture to dress-making and embroidery.) Himalayan Institute Cameroon was awarded First Place for an exhibition on arts and it’s involvement in Kumbo empowering youth groups and local artisans. Support these efforts by purchasing our Humanitarian TRAID products here.

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This event provided a perfect publicity opportunity for our center – newly appointed delegates, civil servants recently transferred to Kumbo, teachers and businessmen all learned about HIC and the wonderful work they do in the community. As you can see, the officials used a desk, specially made by our very own School for Carpentry & Construction, for some of their work. Many of them promised to bring furniture orders to C&C; their local colleagues, some of whom already own our furniture, took the lead to talk positively about HIC.

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Clara, who handles the awareness efforts for the Himalayan Institute Cameroon, learned about the exhibition opportunity with barely one week to spare, admirably coordinated with the rest of the team to prepare the necessary exhibit materials and ensure an attractive display for newly developed jewelry designs. Their 1st Place Award is no small achievement – it is the result of tremendous hard work and focused efforts by the entire HI Cameroon team. Join us in extending congratulations to them on a job well done!

Empowered WomenYour donations to our Humanitarian Projects makes a difference in the world!  Our work establishes sustainable self-transformation programs in areas like Cameroon, India and Mexico.  Your donations are tax-deductible!