Friday, December 4, 2009

Some photos

Descending Mt. Joumbal in Banyo during rainy season and a picture of my neighborhood girls' group after a drawing session.

Monday, August 31, 2009

More photos...

Photos of young man I spotted wearing my school's tee shirt in Kenya. Peer Educators and I after our certificate party. Boys from the neighborhood that we play soccer with on the weekends. And photos of girls from the camp (playing soccer and dancing).

Photos-Flora and Fauna of Cameroon

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Photo of Rainy Season

Photo of Banyo during a rain storm (taken from the mountain).

August 19, 2009: Health Project, Girl's Summer Camp, Soccer and more

Hello everyone! I just counted and it has been four months since I last wrote a good blog. In a nut shell, the last few months have seen the bursting of projects and ideas which is really great to part of. I still feel I am planting a lot of seeds but I also feel that the work is building and things are starting to happen here.

Where to start? Well, rain is a common theme these days. We are at the height of rainy season here. They told me that August was going to be cold and that it would rain each and every day and they were right. Luckily, the rain hasn’t upset too much of my work give or take a few days and in September it will start petering off. And at night in the morning it is actually pretty cool (I won’t use the word cold but I need a sweat shirt!) I prefer the rainy season to the dry season because there is not as much dust and the heat is much more bearable. Plus the rain is a good excuse to stay in and relax. You would not believe how fast things grow here too with the rains. I planted a very small papaya tree next door with my neighbors in March/April and it is now about 7 feet tall-incredible! Unfortunately, my garden has not born the fruit that I had hoped. I just replanted some more squash and tomatoes but the lettuce and cucumbers did well for a while. And for some reason the parsley, dill, basil, and ginger have done awesome but there is only so much one can eat of that. The down side of the rainy reason has been the road and lack of electricity. One of my friends from my group passed through Banyo on his way up north earlier in the summer. He left Banyo at 7:30 am and did not arrive in the next city (Tibati) until 5:30 pm (usually it takes 6-7 hours) and then did not arrive in N’gaoundere until 5:00 am the next morning!!!! Usually that trip takes 12-13 hours not 24 hours. The route out of Banyo the other direction is bad but not quite that bad luckily for me. I do not think I will venturing north on that road any time soon. Due to the rains and a bad motor I believe, we have not had very consistent water or electricity here all summer. For some reason it goes out at night when one needs it the most so I have been making many dinners by kerosene and falling asleep at 8:30 pm lately :) The electrical company seems to have made positive gains lately so we will see if it lasts.

Since my last blog, we held two more community health meetings at my house. The second one did not go as well as planned (there was a major dispute about the efficacy of mosquito nets), but the third did go well and we adapted a health strategy with objectives for the next five years with almost all the health centers here. It is a five point plan centered around decreasing the number of preventable diseases in the district by 20% over the next 5 years with Peace Corps. The five main objectives are increasing the nutritional level of habitants (especially women and children), decreasing the rate of illnesses that come from poor hygiene and sanitation, decreasing the rate of illnesses that come from poor drinking water, decreasing the prevalence and severity of the malaria, and decreasing the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS (especially among youth). Because of this adaptation, I now have a semi-schedule to work with. Once a month I go “en brousse” and visit the women of N’diwawa at the health center there. Every Tuesday I go to a health center at the edge of town and do a health presentation with the nurses there and the women who come in for the children’s vaccinations and every Wednesday I go the District Hospital and work with the nurses there and the women who come in for their pre-natal checkups. We decided to kick off the program with nutrition, so I have been talking about proper nutrition for women and children for the past month (Mom, where are you when we need you?). Next month we will move onto hygiene and sanitation and continue onwards changing the theme within the five objectives every two months. There are a few other health centers that worked with former volunteers so I am only working with them once a month or so but I hope that they continue to do the presentations on their own but we will see. After the project got underway, I did a health interventions training for nurses in the health district one Saturday. We practiced the health interventions and messages we could do during our presentations at the health centers and I hope to do another like this in October. I am also hoping to call another community health meeting to discuss the first few months of the project and start talking about monitoring and evaluation a bit for the future. All in all, I am pleased with it so far.

The rest of the week I would say I am either preparing for the health presentations, talking/organizing/following-up with people (vast majority of the time!), or working with the youth group called Club Reglo. They are an off shoot of the health club here but are an active group in the health project. They have decided that they will work on decreasing illnesses that come from poor water and sanitation, malaria, and also decreasing STDs and HIV/AIDS all from the youth angle. The first thing we did the last week of May was hold a four day Peer-Educator training at my house. We discussed everything from reproductive health to STDs to prevention/transmission/risk reduction to condom use and at the end of the week we visited the District Hospital and talked with the nurses who run the HIV/AIDs testing center and the head doctor. I “graduated” 9 new Peer-Educators after the training and had a little party afterwards to develop our strategy and plan of action until school starts a few weeks ago. The very exciting news is that I sent in a photo and article of the training to 100% Jeune, a youth publication in Cameroon, and they published it-we are famous! The first thing Club Reglo has decided to take on against malaria and water-borne illnesses is neighborhood clean-ups. We have gotten the Delegate of Hygiene behind us and next weekend is our second attempt at actually doing our first clean-up training. Our goal is to do an environmental training, followed by a neighborhood search/clean-up for trash, and hopefully a replacement of the current trash areas to a designated/protected (far from the river) place. This is going to take a lot of time but they are committed to working each Saturday morning for the next two months already to hit each neighborhood so I am excited (I am so lucky to have motivated people to work with).

The biggest accomplishment for me and my post-mate this summer was our girl’s camp, or in French, “Colonie de Vacanes des Jeunes Filles de Banyo 2009.” We held it two weeks ago at the high school he teaches at. The hardest part of the camp was getting the girls to actually commit to coming. I think I said the word, “Colonie de Vacanes,” at least 3 times a day for the 2 months leading up to it. But all the hard work paid off as SIXTY GIRLS ended up coming. Our goal was 40, I couldn’t believe it!!!! It was a major success and I am already planning on what next years will be like. I was most happy that I got 10 girls from my neighborhood to come (and one day 11!). My favorite part of the day was the walk from my house to the center market area where we met all the other girls before we took the bus out together to the school. Most neighborhood girls arrived at my house before 6:30 am every day!! On the walk to the center everyone would ask where the girls were going, what they were doing, etc. It was very liberating to say they are going to school for the morning and the girls were pretty proud too. We did information sessions with the girls (health, goals, planning for the future, role models), taught and played soccer, had a snack time, and then a creative session (dance, drawing, and skits) each day. The final day we had a small closing ceremony where we passed out certificates and took photos. It was mad chaos at times but I am really happy we did it. I began a Thursday afternoon girl’s group a few months ago and the camp has helped a lot with attendance and ideas (plus, the parents allowing them to come to my house and maybe, maybe one day allow them to play soccer with me in the neighborhood). Before school let out for the summer, the Director of Sports at one of the high schools and one of my friends here helped me start a girl’s soccer club in Banyo open to all girls. I am really happy we did not wait for school to restart because about 15-20 girls come every Sunday to play. The Director and I are hopeful that we might get jerseys and have a few tournaments in the fall with a set of dedicated girls. I am really enjoying seeing the girl’s progress (I saw a trap, look, and good first touch pass the other day!) and hope we might be able to build it up enough to play other schools in the Adamaoua Province perhaps.

So, it has been a pretty busy summer but rewarding. I began taking French classes twice a week at night with a high school French teacher here which is helpful and something I really need to continue. I have been able to see a bit more of the country on my banking trips too. It is very beautiful during rainy season-hopefully I can post a few photos to show you.

I also have good news that I am coming home for Christmas, actually almost all of December. All things willing, I will arrive on December 5th in Traverse City, Michigan and then leave January 4th. It sounds like it is going to be a grand family reunion and I can’t wait (I am actually listening to Christmas music right now, haha). If you are going to be any where near northern Michigan for the holidays or can come for a visit I would love to see as many people as possible. I will be found huddled next to the wood cook stove eating large quantities of food :)

Thank you all who have sent letters and packages recently! I am so appreciative. And don’t worry, another water pipe broke today at my house and it took me two hours to pay my rent the other day so it is still life as usual here :)

I hope all is well on your side of the world. Please send news when you can.
Take care and enjoy the rest of summer,
Love to all-Anna

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Photos August 11th, 2009

Photos of Banyo's All Girl Camp held August 3-7, 2009. First photo is of the older girls that played soccer during the camp with me. Second photo is of all the counselors and girls during the final ceremony. Third picture is of a few girls from my neighborhood that came waiting for the bus in the morning. Last picture is of me and two friends from here one night.

Friday, June 5, 2009


Photos of tree in Lake Nukuru National Park in Kenya during my visit there, my two friends, Zareen and Nasima, with the women's group of N'Diwawa during there visit to Cameroon, and three girls from my neighborhood after a coloring spree at my house.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17th, 2009

Hello everyone from Cameroun,

Hope you are all doing well! For the past month I have been traveling and having visitors so it has been really fun (but tiring!) I had to go to Kenya about a month ago for a doctor's appointment (everything is fine!) that my doctor wanted me to have in Nairobi instead of Yaounde. I can now see why! Nairobi is gorgeous and extremely modern and I received excellant medical attention so it was a pleasant experience. The Peace Corps staff and other volunteers in Kenya were also very welcoming and nice so I had a really great time there. I also was able to get out on the weekend before I took my flight back to Yaounde and see some wildlife. I went to two wildlife parks, Hell's Gate and Lake Nukuru. In the first one, I rented a bike on another volunteer's advice and was able to ride along the canyon and see wild zebras, antelopes, baboons, and giraffes. The second day we went to a much larger park where you had to drive around all day. Lake Nukuru houses the world's largest population of flamigos interesting enough but we were also able to see rhinos, zebras, water buffalos, monkeys, and deer there. We didn't have any luck seeing any wild lions or elephants which I really wanted to see but I guess I still have something to go back for. We also went on a small boat ride and were able to see hippos (wouldn't want to mess with them!) I was really amazed how beautiful Kenya was and how developed most infrastruture I saw was. I am sure it is a different story the further away you get from the capitol and animal parks but there straight paved roads everywhere! And the food!! Ohh man..I ate so well!! Because of the indian influence on the country, their "local road side" is greens, beans, and a stewed cabage just like the food I had in northern India. I also had a wide array of food every nite and went to the movies once as well! Crazy! Very good times and I would recommend Kenya to anyone who has considered visiting there. Plus, there is Barack Obama memorabila everywhere!

When I got back from Kenya, I had two good friends, Zareen and Nasima, come visit me. They just left me and it will be hard adjusting back to life without old friends around again. But, Christmas is in T-minus 7 months so we have that to look forward to. They were troopers because we took all the normal transportation routes I normally take. And it does take four days of travel from the US to get to my post in Banyo come to find out! We were on the very final leg of the journey to my house (only two hours away) and the car had a large wheel problem right in the middle of the mountains and a cold rainy drizzle! We waited four hours until the mechanic came and declared the car unsuitable for further travel. Just at that moment when I was contemplating walking with all our luggage, another travel car passed by with many open seats!! We got so lucky! But of course, only about 20 minutes from Banyo we once again had a the same wheel problem but this time it only held us up about 20 extra minutes. So, needless to say we arrived at 10 pm at my place after starting the journey at 6:00 am!! Aie, Aie! While they were visiting me, I took them out "en brousse" to see the women I am starting to work with out at the rural health clinic and we also spent a lot of time at the hospital seeing the vaccinations and observing the work there.

So, it is back to life as normal in Banyo for me. I am really excited to get going though because we are so close to starting to execute some of the ideas and projects we have come up with in the past few months. I have one more "brainstorming/target setting" meeting this weekend and then I think we are ready to roll it out. I will also be doing a peer educateur training in a week for the Club Sante (health club) that I am looking forward to. This Wednesday is National Unity Day as well in Cameroun so I will try to post a blog soon, along with some photos of my trip and the holiday.

Take Care,
P.S. A new internet cafe opened up in Banyo!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The connection is so fast I had to post more!

Photos of "en brousse" out in village of Ndiwawa (shot taken from health center), me crossing a bridge to climb the mountain, freshy planted garden, and rainbow above Banyo right before the rainstorm.

Even more photos...

Photos of grasshopper in my backyard, leaves of a moringa tree, a field of manioc, Earth Day cleanup, International Women's Day Parade, and on top of Mount Djoumbal (women who hiked in honor of Women's Day and me with the HIV/AIDS sign)!

More Photos

Photos of my neighbor, Saidou, in Earth Day cleanup, women in fields outside of Banyo and wedding party outside my house dancing.


In front of the District Hospital in Banyo.

April 23, 2009

Hello everyone! I have not been able to write in awhile because of the short time I had in Banyo in between trips I have had to make. A lot has happened since the last time I was able to post a blog. About a month ago, I went way up north again for my in-service training with my other fellow volunteers that occurs for all Peace Corps Volunteers after three months at post. It was in the city of Maroua (if you look at a map it is one of the furthest northern towns in Cameroon). It took me almost four days of travel to get there!! It was nice because I had to pass through the city I had lived in for the first three months (Pitoa) and was able to take an afternoon to stop by and see my host family. I was shocked how much the baby (Ijaifi) that was born the same day I arrived had grown in the previous three months since I had left! He is super cute now and a healthy plump kid so I was happy to see that. It was nice to visit with the family and then my friend from my group that is posted hear Pitoa came by and we were off to do all the things we didn’t have time to do during stage. We had some time before we had to take the bus further up so went to the marché and bought Cameroonian soccer jerseys, went to the local artisan and bought silver jewelry, bought nice pagne to make into a formal outfit for parties and such, etc, etc. It was liberating to say the least!!! Then we headed north again for about 4 hours where we reached Maroua. The first thing I noticed as we left my region of Adamaoua was the slow descent into the valley of extreme heat!!! As you descend the plateau you can literally see and feel the heat commence. And of course, March and April are the absolute hottest months of the year up north. The second thing I noticed was the lack of water. There was not an abundance when I left in December, but wow, when I say there is no water, I mean there is zero!!! Everything is dry and brown and all the rivers are just flatbeds of sand. You see women and children digging holes in the river bed to try to dig up water all over. I arrived at a friend’s house about 1 pm in the afternoon on a moto and I thought my leg facing the sun was going to fry off! All you can do between the hours of 11:30 am and 4 pm in the afternoon is drink water and sit under a fan. I hadn’t drank that much water in months!! Luckily, we stayed at a hotel with a pool and air conditioning (AND CNN international..I know all about Secretary of State’s trip to Mexico) so that was very nice. There is also a famous artesian market in Maroua that I basically bought up (lots of leather goods, jewelry, shoes) because I do not plan on going all the way up there any time soon!! Maroua is also very close to the animal reserve, Waza, and so we able to see wild giraffes (but no elephants!). The training went pretty well-my counterpart and I had a lot of good ideas that came out of it and it was nice to hear how everyone else did throughout the past three months since I am so far away from most people in my group.

Almost upon arrival from my trip up north, the rains began in Banyo!! I am very lucky because the rains will not arrive up north for about another month and a half, and therefore the heat will not depart either any time soon! It is hard to imagine how everyone is fairing up there-life is extremely difficult. The rains here did bring more humidity, but everything greened up immediately. It almost doesn’t even look like the same place anymore. I planted my garden in my backyard the first weekend I was back with my neighbors. I planted squash, cucumbers, carrots, basil, thyme, dill, spinach, green beans and broccoli. So far, I have seen a few small squash and cucumber plants. I didn’t realize how much and how hard it would rain so I think I will have to go back and replant a few things as they probably washed away the first time it rained hard. I will just be happy if the broccoli and squash grow though! I am craving the two terribly. It rains almost every day now, usually in the afternoon, and then it cools down a bit. This afternoon a big storm came out of nowhere. I went to close back door because of the wind and there was this huge rainbow that covered the whole city and you could see the rain clouds and sun merging. When the rains start you basically can’t hear a thing because the roof is metal. Often the power goes out too so it is good time to relax a bit.

I have decided that if Cameroon is “Africa miniature” then Banyo is “Cameroon petite.” You can almost experience every part of Cameroon (religion, culture, language) in Banyo. Easter weekend I went to a traditional Muslim wedding of one of my neighbors at night. Within a few hours I was sitting at a Catholic Mass with about 20 baptismals and then attended a party for a friend of ours at the Bamilike House with many people who come from the West Region (next Region over to the west). Banyo has Christians (Catholics, Lutherans, Evangelicals, Baptists), Muslims who are Foulbe, Housa and probably many other sects that I am not aware of yet. It is funny because some afternoons I hear the bells from the church at the same time I hear the call for Muslim prayer. It is really pretty together actually.

Work wise I have been really busy lately trying to get things set up with everyone in between trips. I decided about a month ago that I really wanted to hold a meeting to talk with all interested parties about health in Banyo and to discuss my potential work and the opportunities that exist to work together. So I had a “community health and development” meeting last week with about 15 people who either had worked with the former health volunteers in Banyo or I had met in the first few months and had expressed interest in working together. Seeing how busy people, I was pretty happy with the attendance. Most people who came were either doctors or nurses from the health centers but there was also the director of community groups with the Department of Agriculture, the coordinator and a few members of the health club at the high school, and few other community members who came. I am going to have another meeting at the end of May to develop the project and chose objectives and targets so will see if anyone comes to that one!! Meanwhile, I am trying to do a community assessment around water, hygiene, and nutrition with a broad range of people. So far I have completed around 15 by going to a few health centers and the hospital which have been really interesting. I did a needs assessment with health personnel in March to kick off things. Between the two and the things I have observed and heard it looks like we will try to develop a program both within Banyo in the neighborhoods and out in a few villages to try to prevent the preventable diseases of malaria and all those associated with poor nutrition and drinking water. Now the real work begins!!

This past Saturday I held a Earth Day program with the neighborhood kids and a new Youth Group in Banyo. I translated it as, “Fête de la Terre,” or, “Party for the Earth.” I believe most people came to see what this party was all about! We did a small discussion on the history of earth day in the states, the life cycle of trash, and then a trash picking up competition in the area behind my house, next to the river. Unfortunately, it started to rain about 10 minutes after the trash cleanup began but I think they may have worked harder because of it (or was it the promise of prizes??). I am not sure if the theme was picked up by most of the kids who came, but there were around 50 that did come and most everyone participated in the clean-up so I think it was a success. I don’t think anyone cried either so that is good too!! I am hoping to try to do another cleanup soon and hope that maybe we can start working towards to getting the adults involved (at least in getting some trash collection sites started maybe).

Hope you all celebrated this Earth Day well (Happy Birthday Dad!).

Even though we lost in the finals, “GO GREEN, GO WHITE!”
Take care everyone and keep the letters coming!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Quick note!

Hi everyone! I am not having much luck uploading my photos so we will have wait until next time. I will write more soon but we have started to get our first rains here and I planted my garden this weekend so we will see. I keep having a chicken who manages to fly over the gate and lay eggs and make holes so this may not work!!

GO GREEN! GO WHITE!! Hope all my fellow spartan fans are enjoying the games! Best of luck tonite!

All my best-

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Neighborhood Kids

International Women's Day (with my next door neighboor Adabou)

Recent Pictures

View of Banyo from atop of Mount Djoumbal.

Blog from Feb. 17th, 2009

This is the blog I wrote Feb. 17th (we have not had internet in Banyo for awhile!) Currently, I am heading up north to Maroua for my in-service training with my other fellow volunteers. I haven't seen any of them since I bid adieu in December so it should be fun. Hopefully, I will get some more internet time while up there to write a more up to date blog about everything that has happened in February and March! Til then, Anna

Feb. 17th, 2009

Hello everyone! Happy Belated Valentines Day! I realize that it has been almost a month since I was last able to get on the internet and post a blog. Time has definitely gone by fast since I last wrote from Yaounde. I returned from my trip (was able to meet other volunteers who live in the west along the way and see another part of the country which was nice) safe and sound and plunged head first into getting my house in order. It took multiple meetings with my landlord to convince him to repaint my house as a first step, but he finally agreed to do the living room, two spare rooms, and the hallway over (bye, bye Pepto Bismal pink). Once I paid for the paint, the painter came over the next day and it was done in a day and a half. Despite the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom remaining the same for now, the new paint job really makes it seem new and I was finally able to hang up some things. I will hopefully be able to upload a few photos of the new place to my blog today so you can see it first hand. I originally wanted lite blue and peach for the rooms. I ended up with slightly bright blue and a mauve/pink color for the living room but the colors seem to work. I also have been buying pagne and had new curtains made for the living room and spare bedroom, along with pillows. And the desk, chair and spare bed came as well! All I am waiting on now is two small mattresses and another bamboo bed and I am golden for awhile. All these things came in due time because I had fellow Peace Corps Volunteers passing through so they had a place to lie down at least. I also had to fix the shower AGAIN when I returned from Yaounde. It worked really well for a few weeks but lately we have been having big problems with the electricity cutting out (and therefore the water not flowing) so it was nice while it lasted. I have had my first nights here without electricity because of the outages-it is dark. Not too much you can do but go to bed. And it makes food prep really hard too if you don’t do it before the sun goes down. I had been going over to my next door neighbor’s house each evening to watch, “La Belle-Mère,” (the stepmother) a Mexican telenovella dubed in french. Now we are all waiting in anticipation to see what has happened when the electricity comes back!

This past week was la Fête Jeunese, or Youth Week. It culuminated on February 11th (National Youth Day) with a very large parade out in the adminstrative neighborhood. Every night for about a week leading up to the fete there were soirées (like our talent shows) that the high schools put on. They lasted from about 8-12 pm each night. I was really tired afterwards!! The week was kicked off with a ceremony at the Lamidat Palace (the lamido is the religious leader of a town-here he is also the major) with all the students, organizations, other elected officials, and delegates from the ministries of Banyo. It is really interesting because all the “commoners” arrive at an event and wait for awhile until all the important people arrive in SUVs in one gigantic dust swoosh. Then at the end the most important people get up first and the SUVs drive through the crowd to retrieve them and then they are gone. There are also a lot of speeches and such at these ceremonies. Very top down shall we say. Whenever there are ceremonies at the Lamidat it ends with the young sons of the royal family riding their horses. All the horses wear orange and pink cotton fabric with tassels and the horse men match their horses. I keep forgetting to bring my camera but next time I will bring it to post some photos of it all. As I understand it, Fête Jeunese (February 11th) was set aside as a day of reconciliation and acceptance/celebration of different cultures in Cameroon. In the 1950s the north and the south of the country broke away from eachother. When the country was reunited, February 11th was set aside as a day to celebrate differences through festivals, dances and songs and to think towards the future with youth.

Since I last wrote, I have also begun taking fulfulde lessons every afternoon with my next door neighbor. It isn’t such a hard language to tackle but it is the initial get up that is hard. I really need to be able to at least communicate about illnesses to local women and do some trainings in fulfulde. Anything above that will be a blessing!! Here are some common expressions heard here (en fulfulde):

Noy?/Jam na? How are you?

Jam (the response) Well

Useko Thank you?

Sey yesso See you later

Sey fajiri See you tomorrow

Jam wala Sleep well

I have been having fun playing soccer with kids in the neighborhood once a week with my post mate and climbed the mountain the other day again with “the youth” of Banyo and the local Croix Rouge-Red Cross (see photos). You also can never be bored here as you can always play with neighborhood kids-they are currently trying to master frisbe-it is dangerous let me tell you! I also planted some trees in the backyard but am waiting on rains to start sometime in March/April to plant the rest of the garden.

Now that I have my house a little more in order and think I have sort-of figured how to get things done around here (at least today I understand what is going on) I am gearing up work wise. Throughout the last month I have been visiting the last of the health centers in my district to meet people there. I also went to the new “Maison de Femme, House of Women, that when opened I hope to work at. I am starting to read all my materials on conducting assessments and hope to develop and role out a few with health workers here in Banyo, out in village, people who live in my neighborhood, people who live out in the villages, high school students, etc soon to see what programs might work in the future and with whom. I can’t believe I have been here for two and a half months already (5 in total in Cameroon). In a month, I will join others from my training group for a week long in-service training. I hope to have more under my belt by then. There is a saying here, “Petite by Petite,” which translates into “little by little.” That saying is very, very true and I think my patience for things has grown by like 100% already. There are definetly lots of work possibilities here though that I am excited to get going.

So, all in all I am doing really well. I spent Valentine’s Day evening (which thankfully most people here don’t celebrate) cooking for my post mate and two guys from Banyo who have helped me out a lot getting settled in-I made my second chocolate cake, pasta with oil, fresh basil, and tomatoes, and salad with avacados, onions, carrots, a cucumber my friend sent up from her town, and vingarette of sugar, vinegar, and oil. Not bad I have to say!! And the electricity went out so it was a candle lite dinner of sorts J Thank you to all who have sent packages my way. I have received a bunch that people sent at Christmas time along with many letters lately. I have been devouring it all! Stay warm there! Bientôt-Much love, Anna

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Visiting the capitol

Hi everyone, I am in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, for a quick visit and am taking advantage of the fast internet for a change. Wow, Yaounde is a lot more fun than the first time I was here. I have been able to check out a few restaurants in town, go pagne shopping, and was also able to celebrate (and watch) the inauguration (yeahhh!!) yesterday on CNN all night long. It is a very, very nice vacation needless to say. I went to the grocery store today and almost cried looking at all food in the store (there was a refrigerated dairy section!) Tomorrow I have a few more things to do here and then I will start heading back to Banyo on Friday.

Hope you all enjoyed the inauguration celebrations-I really wished I was in DC there but everywhere we go here we see Obama t-shirts and pins and get congratulations. It is amazing the positive impact this election has had on how the rest of the world sees America.

All my best and stay warm!

Photos-traveling in Adamaoua, etc.

Bus ride from N'gaoundere to Banyo.

The route between Tibati and Banyo. (this is a national route!)

Adamaoua Region (grasslands in between Banyo and Tibati).

View outside of Banyo.

A Barber Shop, the "OBAMA" Coiffure.

The District Hospital in Banyo.

First take at braiding my hair.
Working with Community Groups in Pitoa.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

January 15, 2008

Hi everyone, just a quick note to say hello. I have to go to Yaounde next week and will have free, hopefully extended periods, on the Internet at the office to write a longer blog and post more photos. Since I last wrote I have been trying to meet with everyone that my predecessors worked with and those vital to working well here. Since everything basically gets done in the mornings here I have been able to go to one, maybe two, offices a day. So far, I have met with the Department of Agriculture, all three high schools (and a elementary/primary school but there are eight+ in total), almost all the health centers in Banyo (but there are 4 plus the central hospital and 3 out in the countryside "en brousse"), a health club at the high school, one of the women's savings groups that my neighbor belongs too, and numerous other ministries and such but without much success on those fronts yet. I went "en brousse" to a health center about an hour away via moto on Monday and am still recovering from the trip (roads are a little bumpy!) It was interesting to see the area (very rural and closer to Nigeria) and I was able to meet the village chief when I was there and climb a small hill to survey the area. As I was leaving the health center to return to Banyo, the worker I was with came back from the village with a chicken that the Chief gave me. The whole ride back he had to not only steer the moto through this really, really bumpy road, but also hold on to the live chicken by its feet! It was really interesting to see! I gave it to his friends to cook up and got to have a little the next day. I don't think I will be able to kill a chicken here so I am glad there are many who can as I sure that is not the last chicken I will receive here!! Man..did that chicken have a wild last voyage :)

My post mate and I climbed the nearby Banyo Mountain last Saturday-recently redone-there were even stairs!! Is this Cameroon?? I have seen worse trails in Canada! We started about 6:30 am and then came down around 11 am. It was straight up at the very end and pretty hard but really cool to see the view below. There are also remnant's of the old German prison and fortress up there that you can still see. I will post photos next time of it all. This hike is also on those who come to Banyo's itinerary (advance warning!)

Hope you are all staying warm!! I hear it is cold there! Minus the immense dust here, it is beautiful! Wish you were here! Til next time, love-Anna

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Photos of Banyo, Vaccination Campaign, my house, and Swearing-in Ceremony

View of Banyo from a distance.

My living room in Banyo (prior to moving in). It has great potential!

My kitchen in Banyo (prior to moving in).

Going out on foot to the last village during the vaccination campaign in Banyo.

Village boys with Christmas Greetings during vaccination campaign.

Young girl from village during vaccination campaign.

On my way to Banyo from the north. This was the last bus to take (with all my worldly possessions behind it).

"Joyeux Noel" from Cameroon (out in villages near Banyo on vaccination campaign).

Host sister and I on Swearing-In Day.

Agro/Forestry and Health Women on Swearing-In Day (in pagne).

Agro/Forestry and Health men on Swearing-In Day (in traditional bobo outfit).

Host sister, Habiba, and I in Pitoa.