Friday, December 19, 2008
I will write more soon and post photos of my house and Banyo then as well. Happy Holidays to all! I will be spending it with the missionary families here in Banyo but will be missing you all very much. Eat a Christmas cookie for me and enjoy those holiday parties! love, Anna xoxo
Thursday, December 11, 2008
After three days (luckily pretty uneventful) I made it to my post in the city of Banyo. I first took a bus with the Peace Corps trainers and other Adamaoua volunteers to the provincial capital of N’gaoundere. I spent two nights there to give me a day of recuperation and eat some good food (I found a place that serves spaghetti!!) With the help of a current volunteer, we were able to secure a pick up at the house with all our stuff (bike, trunk, suitcase, water filter, books, etc, etc) and then went to the travel agency around 6 am. My colleague left right away but because the next day was a holiday (Day of the Sheep, aka eating them-equivalent I would say to our Thanksgiving) we could not find a driver or bus that wanted to go all the way to Tibati (the next step in the voyage). Needless to say, I got through half my book (Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” very interesting) before my car left at 1:30 PM!!!! I was lucky to get a seat in the front cabin so the ride wasn’t too bad-I was just happy to be moving at all! After only one stop to fix something on the car, I arrived at 8 pm. I stayed with a volunteer who is teaching in Tibati for the night and then spent the next morning trying to avoid the sheep killings, reading my book, and waiting on the call to come back to the agency. We also have been having rain storms lately which is very uncommon this time of year but made for a real beautiful foggy morning-reminded me a lot of mornings at Grandma and Grandpa’s house in northern Florida. Because of the holiday, I didn’t leave until 1:30 again, and do to many stops to revive the car, I didn’t reach Banyo until around 7:30 pm. Thank goodness I have a post mate and he was there to witness me extracting my limbs from the car when I arrived. They pack the buses so tightly with people and goods that I would say that I had two large football players sitting on me for 6 hours. I could barely move my arms to change a page in my book and there were two chickens under me as well that keep running into my legs. I figured out that a good metaphor for the trip is like driving my driveway for 8 plus hours in a school bus (for those of you who have had the privledge of trying my driveway in Cheboygan). Needless to say I was really happy to reach my house with all my stuff, until I realized that my power had been cut off. Once again, I am so happy I have a post mate as I can stay with him until I get the company to turn it back on (hopefully today). I will also have water too in the house as soon I find the man who is supposed to work in the water company to give him my money and fix the pipe that leads to my house. The house has a lot of potential though and the neighbors next door are extremely helpful. There is a high school aged boy who helped the volunteer I replaced every week with cleaning and washing clothes so he is going to be a big help especially in the beginning. He had assembled my bed and put up my bed net by the time I had pretty much located the broom to sweep. I have a bed, stool, and wooden hanger for a closet in my room, a complete bathroom (has a shower but no warm water), three fans, gas stove burners, a small kitchen table with two chairs in the kitchen, and then a few rugs, futon like couch, mirrors, and a book shelf in the living room area. There are only a few things I will need or want to get made for the house (a few chairs for the living room, maybe a desk and another shelf, and a bed for the guest room) so I am really lucky. I am also going to decking the house with colorful pagne soon and may repaint some walls when I have time. I have a small backyard that has real potential for a small garden (already have some carrots growing and a basil plant to keep alive) so if anyone can send seeds please do for anything that can grow in a temperate climate (maybe those who live in sunny places might be able to find seeds at the stores? I would love flower seeds too). Hopefully, I will be able to post some pictures soon of all this.
A little about the swearing-in ceremony. I am officially a Peace Corps Volunteer as of December 4th. Whew, what a process. Training was fun to be with all the other volunteers and I sincerely enjoyed living with my host family and will miss them a lot living in Banyo, but I am so very glad to be beginning the work and not just sitting in a classroom anymore. We had a lot of requirements to fulfill in order to become volunteers (language tests, cross cultural presentations) so I am also happy to be done with those. Of course, now the real work begins! Our swearing-in ceremony was in the morning of the 4th (it was actually a beautiful morning with a breeze) and the US Ambassador to Cameroon was able to come again. There were also probably about 20+ officials (governors, mayors, etc) that attended and spoke as well. It was my first official Cameroon ceremony so it was real interesting to see how it operated. Our host families were also invited to the ceremony, which was great to have them there and included in the event. We had two Peace Corps Volunteers give speeches in French and Fulfulde and then we individually stood up when they called our name and post and then we all took the oath and, Voila, volunteers! Throughout the whole ceremony, there was a group of men who played flutes and drums at strategic moments in the ceremony (some of us got a few toots on the flute when we were announced). We had a host family appreciation lunch afterwards with a live band (and Christmas tree!). We all stayed the night at the hotel in the big town nearby so had a moment to breath and jump in the pool before we all started heading our own ways the next day. Many of us unfortunately contracted some lovely stomach/GI problem throughout the day so it wasn’t as lively as we had hoped. Since I am so far from everyone in my training I will not get to see them as often as I would like, but it does give me the opportunity to meet new people posted in the west. I actually have to get into another 7 hour bus ride tomorrow to open up my bank account in the “closest” big city to me, but am going with my post mate so he can show me the city (people say it is little America but very hectic) and meet new volunteers there. Wish me luck!
I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season. This is my first Christmas not at home so I will miss it a lot. But, it is also comforting knowing that it is hopefully my only Christmas I will miss as I plan on coming home next year. I downloaded a lot of holiday music before I left too so can listen to that while I arrange my house. But, of course, I would love to see and hear about all that everyone is doing this year so send mail! My new address is Anna Stormzand Peace Corps Volunteer, B.P 17 Banyo, Cameroun. You can also go onto the US Ambassador to Cameroon’s web site (look for her activities in the Grand North) to see photos of our swearing-in ceremony on December 4th. Hope to write soon. Love, Anna
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Bonjour tout le monde –hello everyone ! Hope you are all well. Another week of training is over. Only about 2 more weeks to go here before we are finished and sworn in as volunteers. We have been doing a lot of work here ! We have to do a 30 minute presentation on a cultural topic topic all en francais next week. I believe I am going to do mine on popular travel destinations in Cameroon-which is very beneficial for those who want to come visit while I am here ! So far I have learned that the beaches are great down south, Mt. Cameroon (the highest point in west Africa) is worth the trek, and there are some beautiful waterfalls in eastern Adamawa. There is also a good sized wildlife park called Waza in the Extreme North that if you go during the right season you can see elephants grazing at the water holes and other animals you might normally see on safari in eastern africa. I am very excited about the zoo in Yaounde that has been recently renovated with the help of an international wildlife organization. There you can see various monkeys and gorillas that are in rehabiliation. I really would like to go see mountain gorillas in the rainforest but I guess those places are hard to get to do to lack of infrastucture (which is probably good in the long term sustainabilitiy factor !)
We had quite an interesting day here yesterday. Our french class was on ¨field trip¨to meet with the director of the public pharmecutical center. We had a interesting meeting and then afterwards we learned that the director is also one of the mayors! Interesting.... he invited us to lunch and after touring some more of town he took all of us out at the francais resturant way on the other side of town and bought us like a three course meal complete with mousse for desert!!!! We all thought we had died and gone to heaven. We are trying very hard not to tell the others what they missed. We did not make it back until about 3 hours later. What an experience!
Other than that, not too much going on here.
I hope you all have great Thanksgivings . I miss you all ! Have some stuffing and pumpkin pie for me ! love Anna
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Well, I made it back from site visit (Banyo) last Sunday alive so that is a great feat in its self. I started off on Friday afternoon taking a bus for 4 hours to Tibati where I stopped for the evening. Got up the next morning and did the long haul from Tibati to Ngaoundere (7 hours). And then I stayed there for the night, recuperated a bit (ate some great french fries with a beef, mushroom, cream sauce), and then continued onwards the next morning for another 5 hours to Garoua where the group was reunited. That would be a 3 day journey !! I was/am really tired from the trip but glad that it was a whole lot easier than the way there. I won’t have to do that trip too many more times because I can take another route to Yaounde through the west in the future and can do my banking in a town about 6 hours away from me (Bafoussam) instead of the other direction where the road is really bad. Apparently right now (directly after rainy season) and during the rainy season is the worst time to travel that route so it should get better. We are getting, ¨this is as worst as it can gets, ¨all out of the way I hope !
The post-election atmosphere here is very exciting. Everywhere we go we get, ¨Obama, Obama !! ¨with outcrying of cheers ! Everyone is very anxious to see what will happen when he becomes President. I was not able to see or hear the news on election night but I guess many, many people here stayed up all night (6 hour time difference from the east coast) to get the results. We keep joking that it will only be a matter of time until we are seeing Obama Pagne here (colorful cloth with photos of Obama on it that are made into shirts and dresses). I don’t get too much news here so send news and magazine articles my way !
We have three more weeks here before we are officially sworn in as volunteers. I will miss living with my host family, especially since the little kids are finally warming up to me. So much, that I am pretty sure I have gotten cold number two from them today !! Oh well ! The other night one of the little girls (5 years old) tried to begin braiding part of my hair-no such luck but it was entertaining. At night I usually watch tv with them while eating dinner and all the kids sit there and point things out to me in Fulfulde (not making much progress in that langauge yet but will need to since most of my neighbors in Banyo only speak Fulfulde).
It is hard to beleive that everyone there is getting ready for Thanksgiving traveling and such. Know that I wish I was there with you all. We are preparing a small feast here and with the help of the stove and refridgerator in the office we might be able to pull it off. I will write hopefully again next weekend.
All my best. Love, Anna
Landscape outside of Pitoa.
All the Peace Corps trainers and trainees with the Ambassador to Cameroon in September.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I am posted to be working with the local district hospital here in Banyo and my counterpart is the head nurse who is originally from the western part of Cameroon. There is a new doctor there and Nadia says he has really got the place in shape since his arrival last year so it sounds like I should be in a good spot to be working on a lot of things in Banyo and the surrounding villages. During the last two years, Nadia has been working on training nurses, working with a men's group, working with neighborhood children, and also working with prisoners and improving the conditions there. Hopefully I will be able to continue some of her work after she leaves. Banyo is a really pretty town. It is approx. 25,000 people and a medium sized town in a hilly area (lots of climbing!). There is one main stretch of town that is is paved and has shops and such and then there are some schools and health clinics on the out skirts-the rest is all residential neighborhoods. Great news thought-they are currently building a bakery and small supermarket which should be completed in the next few months. My house has a big living room, a smaller kitchen that overlooks the hills with a back yard, a bathroom, and THREE bed rooms!!! There is a lot of painting and decorating that will need to happen once I move here officially in December but it should work out (right now most of the walls are painted Bright pink!) One of the draw backs to living here is that I am really isolated from my other health and Agro volunteers that I came in with. I do have a post mate who is a high school teacher here and will be here for most of my time here and there is another health volunteer who has been here for a year that is apparently an hour east of me. There are three other health volunteers I know posted in Adawama but Jessie and Brian are about 5 hours west of me and I don't even know how far away Allison is in the east!! Lets just say the roads are pretty incredible. To get here, we all took a 5 hour bus ride and spent the night with other volunteers in N'Gaoundere which is the provincial capitol of Adawama. The next morning we started at 7 am for Tibati and arrived there at 3 pm in the afternoon. And then I continue on from there for another 5 hours or so! Things didn't go exactly to plan so I didn't arrive until Tuesday morning!!! GEESH! It took three days to get here! I don't think I will be visiting the north much after this! I am going to take it in 3 steps to get back to out training site this weekend so it shouldn't be as bad! Ahhh..travel in Cameroon!
So I hope everyone is doing well! Such great news on the elections!!!! Please send any news you have!! Hope to write back soon with more photos-miss you all, love, Anna
Friday, October 24, 2008
My days are filled with French and Fulfulde lessons along with health and cultural sessions as well. We all went to a football (soccer match) last weekend together. It was the local city’s club team against a club team from
The children in my host family are warming up to me. The little boy (see entry below) has gotten over his fears and is happy to see me now! After classes all day I usually play with them in the courtyard before the sun goes down (around
There is a market every Sunday in our town that brings in hundreds of people from all over northern
I went for a run last week around the field while everyone else played soccer. It was the first time I have run here and it was so funny because young boy or guy I came across said, “Have a good run Madame” or “Good Luck Madame.” Very formal! In the bigger cities you will find men and women running for exercise in the streets. So dad you have can have a career here too! J
I hope you are all well-I received two letters this week and was so happy to get them! Keep them coming! Knowing you are all there thinking of me really helps! I have sent many letters your way as well so I hope you receive them soon! I will write hopefully within the next two weeks. Love-Anna
Here is a posting from
As I write this a huge rain storm is brewing above me. It is Friday night and we just finished up with course for today and I am staying late at the training house to write this with a “safe outlet”. Ok, the rains have begun and I keep losing power so this may have to be short. Things are going well here. This week was a lot better. We had some interesting sessions on behavior change, health communication, and language picked up a bit. We also got to visit the local district hospital and talk with clients and doctors which was really interesting. I also played in this weeks soccer match with other trainees and trainers-so nice to just run around a bit and not just be sitting. I did have a cold for most of the week but I think it may be finally passing! It is still real hot here but everyone says it will cool down soon (but the rains will stop then so take your pick!)
Here are a few things that come to mind that have been memorable thus far:
My host brother-he is about 2 years old and is deathly afraid of me (because I am so deathly pale I assume!) Whenever he is alone in the same room with me he starts whimpering and runs away. It is much better however than one child that was dragged screaming bloody murder to me by his mother the other afternoon-apparently we are very scary to the babies J The older ones love us though and constantly follow you down the street saying, “Bonjour, Bonsoir Nassaro.” Nassaro I believe is the local word for foreigner. I think I may have talked to the right person though because I am getting a lot of “Bonjour Anna” now instead. Progress!
The rains! Man when a storm comes in it really comes in. The skies darker (hopefully I can download some photos as well to this showing this) and it cools down considerably and then the winds pick up and then, “Wooosh!” Sheets of rain.
Pagne dress: I went with my host sister/cousin the first weekend I was here and purchased some cloth to make some dresses out of. That was the last time I saw the material as it was whisked away to the tailor that night. A few days later I was handed a dress that you will see me in the photos. It actually turned out pretty nice but I believe that the tailor is making the exact same dress again with the extra material! Guess what mom will be getting as a present-hahah! I liked the material at first because I thought there were trees on the material and it was green and blue. Come to find out is actually fruit! Whops!
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Town of Pitoa
View of Youande during rain storm.
Hello everyone! Well, after almost two weeks in country we finally got a chance to get to an internet café this morning. I wanted to give everyone a brief overview of what has been happening since I left the US a few weeks ago. In short, WOW!
We arrived in Cameroon after a thankful noneventful flight from NY to Brussels and then to Douala in Cameroon. The first thing I noticed from the plane was the red dirt and lush green. We spent the night at a hotel in Douala before taking off the next morning in a tour bus for Yaounde. Imagine 30+ people with at least one big pack and a medium suitcase and you will be able to get a grasp of the logistics needed to get us from point A to B! Pretty impressive! We stayed at a nice hotel in Yaounde for about four days while we completed official business at Peace Corps headquarters. We didn’t get to see much of the city but was able to at least see the soccer stadium and few of the neighborhoods while there. Most of us will be posted in the northern provinces of Cameroon so that is where our three months of training is being held. To get up north we had to take an overnight train (14 hours plus!) and then take another two tour buses for another five hours to get to our final destination which is two small towns near the bigger town of Garoua (you can find it on most maps). And then at the end of it we were wisked away with our host families. Holy cow-what a trip!
I am living with a small family. The parents are young (I believe I am almost 8 years older than the mom and possibly the same age as the father) and they have three children. They only had two before I came! Yes, that is right the third was born at 10 am the day I arrived in town! I kept asking on my walk to the house how many children the father had and he kept laughing saying something like, “Well, today I have three.” I didn’t pick up on that until they handed me a newborn baby boy when I entered the house! There are also two girls who I believe are sisters and cousins of the parents (one is young and the other is 15 and the one I talk with the most and who also makes all my meals for me). And then occasionally other relatives are there as well but I think I have figured out the core base for now! It is hard to describe the house structure but you enter a bigger courtyard area with brick and motar walls and then enter a smaller courtyard where my host family lives. There is a room for cooking, a latrine area in the back, my room, a sheltered open air area, and then the main structure with a living room with a television and carpet to sit on, and a bedroom.
Our training is very long and everything is pretty challenging right now for us but all of us are in this together so we will get through. I just need it to cool down!!! I did get a fan the other day and that has made my life much better!