Friday, December 19, 2008

Ambassador website

You may be able to find photos of our swearing-in ceremony and other Grand North related activities at the US Ambassador to Cameroon's web site:

December 19, 2008

Hi everyone, just a quick note to say hello, Happy Holidays, and that I am well in Banyo. I just passed my three month mark now in Cameroon! I think the most difficult months of adjusting may be over so that is good. I have been in Banyo now for one week and have successfully gotten the water and electricity on and arranged for my french/fulfulde classes to begin. I also was introduced to the hospital staff yesterday and was able to hook up with the vaccination campaign that was going on in Banyo this week so things are moving! I was "fixed" for two days at the hospital doing vaccinations (polio drops, DTP, tuberculosis, Vitamin A drops, de-worming pills, measles, tetanus for pregeant women) and then spent the last two days doing door to door in the neighborhoods which is exhausting but very interesting.

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

Arrived in Banyo!

December 9, 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