Youth Day Photos

As promised, here are some photos to help illustrate the extravagance of Cameroonian Youth Day. In Danfili, the week consisted of soccer matches, talent shows, a round table debate, and finally a big parade followed by a dance party. I played in a soccer match between female secondary school students and women of the community, and was nominated a member of the “grading committee” for the other events, which took place after dark.

Parades of this sort are common for national holidays. While my small town celebrated on the grounds of the primary school, bigger towns take to the streets! I know the photos look small in the post, but if you click on them you can see larger versions.


The different school groups prepare their lines and routines before the parade begins. The primary school was separated into “Group 1” in purple and white, and “Group 2” in blue and yellow.


A crowd of mamas and other family members wait under the Cameroonian flag in the shade.


Look familiar? The preschool students lead the parade, chanting, “l’ecole maternelle a les jolies choses…” (okay I don’t remember more of the chant, but they’re adorable!)


The preschool boys are very good at marching in straight lines.


Group 2 girls parade past.


To spice up their marching, the Group 2 girls execute a waving routine with handkerchiefs.


Voila, the CES (Secondary School). Our secondary school currently ends with the French school system’s equivalent of ninth grade, but the director has applied to expand to a full “lycee” status. Currently, if students want to continue school after troisieme, they must attend another school 45km away.


The Majorettes in one of their formations, impressing the rowdy crowd. The average age of girl students at the CES is fourteen. Only about a quarter of the CES students are girls and few make it to troisieme.


Male secondary school students. The average age of male students is sixteen, as many boys take time off of school.


Meet our town crier, entertaining the crowd and encouraging them to support their students. He speaks a little English, and likes to publicly draw attention to my foreignness.


Monsieur Pascal helps the primary school students get in formation for their “mouvement ensemble” dance for the audience.


An encore performance by the preschoolers!


In the same fashion of the talent show from the nights before, these girls dance while onlookers flock to give them money to encourage them in school. These dancers are serious, no smiling!


The Danfili Youth Day grading committee. My colleagues work at the secondary school and offered funny quips throughout our week of watching dances, skits, and marching.


That’s Not My Name

Last week was a national holiday here in Cameroon. Despite being called Youth Day, it is observed all week long to celebrate young people’s talents, and is quite an affair in many towns throughout the country. I will post more about this later in the week when I can more easily post photos.

During the week I attended many meetings and events where I realized that many people don’t know my name as well as I thought. Here is a list of all of the names I was called last week, for your amusement:

  • Tee-bee
  • Zee-dee 
  • Fee-Beth 
  • Eliza
  • Stephanie (these are the two previous volunteers’ names)
  • Dee-dee
  • Phoh-bey
  • Pay-bee
  • See-bee
  • See-tee
  • Madame (by children)
  • Mademoiselle (by men trying to make a point)
  • Monsieur (by folks who don’t know me at all but label chairs at the YD celebration. I was “president” of a planning committee for the holiday)  
  • Debbo (“woman” in Fulfulde)
  • Nassara (“foreigner” in Fulfulde which I’m trying to get away from being called)
  • Nassara debbo (you know because they don’t want to confuse me with all of the nassara worbé (men) around)
  • Nassara Beebee (clearly it can’t  always be dropped)

That’s not to say that I know how to pronounce or remember everyone else’s names, that is so far from true! But each time I hear a rendering of my name, and especially when I hear “Nassara,” I am reminded that I am still a newcomer to this place and have more work to do to integrate and become known in my town. On days when I stick to the circuit of friends and families I have gotten to know already, it is easier to forget that I arrived to Cameroon only five months ago, and have been in Danfili for less than three months. I’m leaving this week for a training seminar with the other PCVs I swore in with, and am excited to get on a proper name basis with more residents of Danfili after I return.  

Water By Numbers

In conversations with friends and family, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about water. How often does it rain? How do you bathe? Do you drink the water? Where do you get water from? So here’s the scoop:

0. The number of times it has rained since I arrived to Danfili. Raining season is still a few months away, which means the hot, sunny 90’s are here to stay. With weather this hot, staying hydrated is important, and not an easy task for all. As wells dry up, people must walk farther away from their homes to get water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing. I am always greatful that I have convenient access to water.

1. How many buckets of water I use to bathe. Sometimes I heat the water beforehand which makes the experience much more enjoyable. In the states I take pretty quick showers and am proud that I don’t use too much hot water, but here I feel quite accomplished that I can bathe with less than 5 liters of water.

  2.  How often I refill my water filter every day. It holds about 4 liters of water at a time. I use this water for drinking and cooking. The filter itself has a top chamber and a bottom chamber. There are two ceramic “candles” that filter out silt, microbes, and other evil water pollutants so that I don’t get sick. Many people here treat their water by boiling it before drinking, or adding a drop of chlorine to the water to purify it. Not all though; as a result typhoid and other water-born illnesses like diarrhea are common here.

3. The number of liters of water I drink in a day (minimum). In addition, I was sent a care package with tons of crystal light packets, and I also have a selection of teas. 

 4. The number of buckets it takes to fill my big water bin. I usually try to top it off every morning with water from the well. 
  6. Probably the number of times a day that I wash my hands. Because there aren’t sinks, people use kettles to help direct water for hand washing.   
9. The number of armspans of rope it takes to pull up water from the well. Scientifically, this translates into a well that’s 50feet deep. I’m not sure how much longer it will last. When it does dry up, I will migrate to the water pump that is about 20 yards from the front of my compound. 

  20. The number of steps it takes to get to our nearest water source. I am lucky that this well is so close. As I said, once this well dries up I will go to the water pump nearby for water.  
  60. How many minutes it takes me to wash my laundry IF I do it once a week and IF I only rinse the clothes once and IF the line where they dry doesn’t snap and I have to rinse the dirt off my clothes again. Because of the heat, things dry very quickly.