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.

Happy New Year from Cameroon

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you passed a good holiday season with your friends and family. I spent Christmas Eve and Day with a couple who has lived in Banyo for the last 8 years working with the Baptist hospital here. They live on the out skirts of town near to the hospital and church in a valley next to the mountain-really pretty out there. I went with them to church Christmas Eve. Most of the church goers were from the neighboring baptist community, and therefore anglophone, so most of what happened I understood. First there was time for the children to come up and recite memory verses, then the choir would sing a song with drums and shakers, then there would be a sermon of sorts, and then this repeated. We left during the dramatization of Jesus’s birth and the subsequent events following (lets just say there was definitely some cultural adaptation!) After church was over I could here the drums and dancing that took place outside the church well past one in the morning. I went back on Christmas day and there was a lot more signing and celebrating as well. Everyone dressed up and went door to door saying, “Happy Christmas,” in which you reply, “Happy, Happy.” I maned the door for while handing out popcorn and cookies. Later that day, another baptist family and their kids came over for dinner. was so good! I brought over the stuffing mom sent for Thanksgiving (but didn’t reach in time) and we had mashed potatoes and gravy, and chicken, and green beans and carrots, and a jello mold, and pineapple cake, etc. etc. I was in heaven!! Lots of people stopped by throughout the evening and then we finished the day playing cards together. Needless to say it took a lot for me to leave there the next day! But my post mate arrived a few days later from his in-service retreat just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve together. We tried the local discotheque for awhile with some Banyo friends. And after discovering that he had had maple syrup mailed to him in a care package, we made pancakes from scratch that were pretty darn good. New Years Day we rode our bikes out to the Baptist community and spent the afternoon out there again. So all in all, a pretty different but good holiday season this year. I don’t think I will be spending next Christmas in a sun dress however!

Work wise I have been pretty busy trying to meet with people in the community, job shadowing nurses at the hospital, and getting my house together. I had a minor success yesterday when the chairs and small table I asked to be made finally arrived at my house! And after paying to have the water lines fixed, discovering another break in the line after the water was turned on and gushing water for a day and a half, and then having a very leaky shower head that had to be replaced, I think the water situation is under control (keeping fingers crossed). I am now trying to navigate how to get my house repainted in Cameroon 101. All the former tenants were successful so we will see how long this takes. I am just so thankful every night for the fact that there are green beans, green peppers, eggs, pasta, beans, tomatoes, avocados, and rice at my disposal every day (coupled with the wonderful food I have received in care packages I may survive after all). I am starting to navigate the Peace Corps cook book we have and exploring the idea baking in a dutch oven. When forced to I might learn how to cook after all!

There have been a lot of things to talk about since I last had a chance to get on the Internet. Two weeks ago Banyo held their third vaccination campaign of the year which I mentioned in my last blog. I was able to go “en brousse” on motorcycle (out to nearby villages) one day which was pretty cool to see (very beautiful but very very vast). I am thinking that I will be able to do a lot of work with village women in the neighboring villages. Last week I just observed the district hospital that I am based with. I did rounds with the staff and spent one day in the maternity, pediatrics, and urgent care wards each. It was really good to see the difficulties that the nurses/doctors and patients face and also witness the major causes that bring people in (malaria, malnutrition, and moto accidents mainly). It also gave me a chance to start sitting and talking with patients and I think I could probably could do nothing more than just sit in the pediatrics ward the next two years and talk with mothers about their children's health and I would be very busy. I had some great discussions with a few moms that I think I may try to tap into for the community. I had my first real dose of reality though when I sat with a women who had late stage complications from AIDs (just then diagnosed). She did not make it by the time I returned after the holiday along with one baby who was a twin (brother came in with broken arm) who died of malaria during the night. Both cases that could have been prevented.

In lighter news, my neighbor's teenage girls did my hair the other day in braids (och!!) that I will try to post a photo of today. And I have a mouse in the house that I am aiming to get rid of soon! I also played my first soccer match with the neighboring boys with my post mate and scored, which was pointed out does not count because the goalie only came up to my waist :) It was fun though and I am hoping to get a girls match going in the near future perhaps (that will be a lot harder to do!)

I hope you are all well and enjoying the New Year. I hope to write back within two weeks or so. I have to go to Yaounde around mid-January (I will get to see the inauguration via CNN on the 20th) so will hopefully write then. All my best!
Love, Anna