This post is long overdo! The past month has been packed with activities both at post and around Cameroon. Here are the highlights and lowlights.
After the Fete de Jeunesse I said “sey yeh so” to Danfili and headed to Bamenda by way of Yaounde for our PreService Training Reconnect. I spent two weeks in bamenda, an anglophone town in the northwest region, reuniting with the other volunteers from my training stage and receiving more information about being a volunteer. Our counterparts joined us for the first week, which meant I got to introduce Asta to my friends and also meant I did a lot of translating into French for her benefit.
On the first day of PST Reconnect, we each presented on our communities and shared ideas for projects we want to do in the future. I was so impressed by my friends’ discoveries of their communities, and the work we’ve already been doing. One friend made a doll that has an umbilical cord out of old fabric to use as a teaching tool while explaining childbirth to pregnant women. Another volunteer has taken over a previous pcv’s project bringing water pumps to the rural villages surrounding her community, involving lots of treks through the jungle and on very poor roads. Another volunteer works at an HIV treatment center in a more modern community and has a children’s group where they play and teach kids about living healthy with HIV. I could go on and on!
I was amazed by the work of my peers across Cameroon. Over the past three months at post, I’ve gathered data and made observations about health care practices in Danfili, and have many possible projects I could focus my remaining time working on. This is both exciting and daunting. Our indicators help direct the work that we do, and among those I think I am most excited to work on malnutrition education and growth monitoring, as well as helping women develop birth plans that involve coming to the hospital.
Also during PST Reconnect, we had plenty of opportunities to visit the town and let off steam. One volunteer planned a night for a restaurant to stay open for us to order pizzas, and we went dancing a few times, which was a lot of fun. Cameroonians love dancing by themselves in front of big mirrors, and I concur.
After our training conference, I headed southwest with a group of friends to climb glorious Mount Cameroon. After a very long, uncomfortable bus ride, we spent a day getting to know Buea and discovered a grocery store run by a Cameroonian who lives in Minneapolis of all places. So naturally the store was full of all the products I miss from Target and Costco, including granola bars, microwave popcorn (um how…?) and fruit snacks.
Our hike up Mount Cameroon was scheduled to last three days. The mountain contains jungle, plains, and even lava flows (it’s a volcano!) The last eruption was in 2000, and apparently another eruption in 1982 was documented in the movie The Legend of Tarzan. We woke up early that first day and made it to about 2200meters before the rain started. Luckily we were at a shelter where we waited it out, but it soon became evident we would not be able to continue due to the slick, muddy conditions.
In dampened spirits, we returned to a camp a little ways down the mountain and spent the night with nine of us cramped into a space that made my sophomore dorm room seem huge. A group of boy scouts arrived and took the larger sleeping room. Needless to say, we were cozy sleeping shoulder to shoulder to foot to head.
Me and my cluster mate Terry waiting out the rain! He has a blog too: Cameroon Liaison
Unable to continue the mountain climb, we returned to Buea and spent the next two days in Limbe, a beach town on the ocean. The sand was the same color as hot chocolate and the coast was gorgeous. I hadn’t been to the ocean since 2012, and it was hard to leave.
Traveling back to post took two days and offered lots of time to reflect on my past six months in Cameroon. It has been a roller coaster in many ways, and while not always easy, I am so happy to be here. Every day I am learning new things about Cameroon and making friends. The next 20 months are going to go by so fast and I am thrilled to share them with you through this blog! As always, thank you for supporting me and my adventure in one of the most beautiful countries in the world!