Was I Dreaming? 

Last month I was fortunate to fly back to America to celebrate the marriage of two of my good friends and celebrate the Fourth of July with my family. I am still grappling with what it means to me to have returned to the comforts of familiar friends and family, refrigeration and laundry machines, and an insurmountable variety of food at my disposal (that said, knowing I would be overwhelmed and possibly never leave, I successfully and purposefully avoided stepping into any grocery stores). I do think it is a good sign that during my trip, I missed Danfili and was eager to return to post.
Multiple times during my trip I remarked that being home feels like a dream. I have had many dreams about being back in DC or Minnesota spending time with my people, and finally being there again felt imaginary. I had a jam-packed two weeks full of memories, conversations, and visiting both new and familiar places. In all, it was a great visit, but my life in Cameroon is so separate from my life in America; it’s difficult for me to conceive of them both existing at the same time and switching from one to another through a time warp travel marathon. 

Upon returning to Danfili, I realized definitively that my trip wasn’t a dream. Many things had evolved during my two week absence from post. The new market day construction project “downtown” is complete, the health center finished installing solar panels and now has basic electricity (yay!), and Ramadan is over, rendering people far more energetic than when I left. There are baby ducklings waddling about in my neighborhood, and my walk to the health center has been overtaken by 12foot tall corn stalks. I feel like Alice in Wonderland after she eats the shrinking side of the mushroom during my walk to work.

After three long days of travel, I returned to my little blue house and continued the game where I relate my life to movie montages. I cleared well-established cobwebs from all corners of my house like Snow White when she arrives to the dwarves’ cottage (minus the help of cheerful critters), I unpacked a million items from my Mary Poppins-like hiking bag, and I battled with a cloud of mosquitos that emerged from my latrine hole like the creepy beetles in The Mummy

The other exciting development is that I became a grandma! Peanut now has four kittens, as of about a week old. Wish them good luck! Photos to come!

I am excited for these next few weeks because I have some fun projects in the queue. I will be working with a group of middle school girls twice a week through the end of August to talk about goal setting, healthy relationships, puberty, time management, and other things. I have nutrition presentations planned with my friend David around the community, and will be visiting neighboring villages, including Gommana, a village established by refugees from the Central African Republic. All said, after a nice dream-filled two weeks, I am ready to come out of my PCV hibernation and get back to work! 

Data, Data, Give Me the News

At the end of May I had yet another training, this time troubleshooting ways to achieve successful monitoring and evaluation of projects. The health sector of Peace Corps Cameroon receives funding from some pretty big sources including USAID and PEPFAR, and each has specific methods for  tracking the effectiveness of funding. At their level, the data is used to report on overall progress towards global health initiatives such as the Millennium Development Goals, and informs global health solutions. On our level as PCVs, data collection helps us understand community health demographics, respond through creating focused projects, and evaluate the efficacy of our work. Continue reading