My Post!

16-Nov-2012

Here is what I know about my post so far:

 

Village: Misaje

Region: Northwest

Languages: Pidgin and English

Population: 15,390

Religions: Islam and Christianity

Water: Yes, but irregular

Electricity: No

Host Institution: Medicalized Health Center

Ethnicities: Nchani, Mbessa, Wimbum, Banso, Fulani, Hausa, Bum, Mbembe, Noni

Schools: Private and public high schools and primary schools

Landscape: Hilly and mountainous

Climate: Very cool climate

Transportation: Mainly by moto

Site expectations: PCV will support the daily work at the health center and out, sensitizing community members on different health issues identified; help with outreach activities

Distance to Bamenda (regional capital): 200km, 5 hours during the dry season

 

I will be working with at least one of Peace Corps Cameroon’s Community Health goals involving HIV/AIDS, malaria and water sanitation, and maternal and child health.

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Probably + Problematic = Probablematic

28-Oct-2012

 

Life as a PCT is always strange and often comes with new experiences and difficulties. My two younger brothers have had coughs for several weeks and last night, I watched my mother prepare a different kind of cough medicine. She grated ginger, then mixed the liquid that was produced with citron honey. It was a brown-ish concoction, and my brothers did not look too thrilled to drink it. I have also seen my mother put something that looks like mud on the sides of my brother’s face, I think for the flu? It is difficult to say, as they never know the exact diagnoses. My mother usually just says “he is sick”, or “he has the flu.” It seems as though the health center is only used when an illness is thought to be severe.

 

Later in the night, when trying to open up my foot locker (the padlock on my trunk), I discovered that it would not open; it was jammed. I was planning on washing my clothes today and will be leaving tomorrow for our field trip and all of my clean clothes are in that trunk… As you can see, it was probably problematic. I asked Kathleen to bring the spare key the next day and if that didn’t work, the jaws of life might have been necessary. This morning, it poured for four hours, so I instead employed the help of my host father and eldest younger brother Guy. My host father began with a machete, which produced sparks and was most definitely not effective. The second tool utilized was a bent fork, and the third was one of my bobby pins. Magic came with the rusty pliers, which de-jammed (is that a word?) the padlock. My host father went to put it back on, but was interrupted by my “NOOOOOOOO!!!”

 

After the padlock debacle/miracle, my host father brought out the American coins I had given to my brothers when I had first arrived. He asked how much they were worth in Cameroon, and after receiving my response of “basically nothing,” he gave them back because he had no use for them. Ouch.

 

Later this morning, my host brother Guy helped me with my laundry. My 20-year-old brother washed my laundry. Figure it out.

 

For lunch, we cut vegetables for an hour, then made spaghetti. I sat half in the sun, half out. I got a gruesome sunburn on my left side. Fun times.

 

And that was my probablematic less-than-24-hours.

Cameroonian birthdays

23-Oct-2012

My cousin Chimene tells me that birthdays in Cameroon are celebrated with a few friends in your house and a cake with one candle. Also, on special occasions, they enjoy eating chicken, eggs, and drinking Coca-Cola.

This kid’s first Cameroonian birthday was celebrated comme ça:

Morning:

My morning was Sixteen Candles-esque, as Cameroonians do not acknowledge birthdays the way that Americans do. I was greeted with the usual “Bonjour” and departed for school early, with my brother Junior. When I arrived at school, I asked Gillian why she was there so early and she replied with: “It was either sit and eat my sardine sandwich, with bones, at my house, or bring it here and not eat it.”

People started trickling in and Kathleen arrived with a small cake for me – how kind! Training started with language class. I switched into a lower French class so that I could return to the basics and maybe learn more tenses?

After class, we presented “mini-lessons” to the other trainees. One group taught us this popular song:

Ma grandmère est malade au dos

C’est ce que le docteur a dit

Youpee youpee youpee ah-oh

Youpee youpee youpee ah-oh

Le matin a six heures et demi

Nous prennons un petit-dejeuner

Youpee youpee youpee ah-oh

Youpee youpee youpee ah-oh

(I discovered later that my entire family knows this song as well)

Later, the two visiting PCVs Katie and Alissa presented me with a marvelous gift: a Snickers bar. It was the most delicious Snickers bar I’ve ever had.

After lunch, we were supposed to meet with our community groups. The health trainees are split into five groups: malaria, nutrition, maternal and child health, HIV, and hand washing. I am a part of the HIV group, so our job was to develop questions for a needs assessment of our community group of women. We were interested in getting a better idea of what women in Bokito already know about HIV. Unfortunately, it down poured that afternoon, and no one showed up. We were warned of this, and told that especially during the rainy season, we must have the foresight when it comes to planning community events. Most people in Cameroon use walking as their main form of transportation. If it rains, and there is little incentive to attend an event, they will not go out in the rain.

So instead, we played in the rain.

Santé stagiaires, October 23, 2012

Santé stagiaires, October 23, 2012

Later, we went to the bar to celebrate my birthday, and my cousin Chimene came with a paper she had decorated as a card.

My birthday card from my cousin, Chimene

My birthday card from my cousin, Chimene