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