My first Cameroonian birthday has come and gone. I celebrated by giving a startlingly detailed presentation on the wonders of breastfeeding. Hello 28! Colostrum is very good for babies! Then I probably went home and napped. I say probably because I don’t actually remember, but a brief statistical analysis of the last 15 days leads me to assume—with some degree of certainty—that that is what happened. Not a bad day, all in all.
And now, September is approaching—FINALLY. Since May I feel like I’ve just been puttering around here (except ‘puttering’ sounds sort of fun, like there was a small, themed golf course involved, and let me assure you, that has not been the case), what with my plans for a Girls Group crashing to the ground in a staggering display of me not doing anything right, and then everyone I know leaving town for the summer. So I’ve been doing lots of planning, and since most of the work I tend to be interested in involves kids, most of my planning has revolved around September, and children actually being here.
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Oh!! Sorry, I interrupt myself to bring you this completely ridiculous bulletin, which is neither all that timely, or—in all likelihood—that interesting to you, but get this!!! They destroyed my town! That’s right—destroyed! I woke up one Saturday morning a couple weeks ago to the sound of hammering, which is not all that strange, but then when I headed out on to the road to go the market, I realized they were using those hammers to destroy every single building on the main road in town! Which, quite frankly, is strange. I asked what was going on, and here is the answer…wait, are you ready for this mind-boggling feat of mental prowess? I don’t think you are…I was told that the people who paid for the road decided that there have been too many accidents lately (Ngoulemakong is situated right on the main highway between two big cities) so the only thing to do is to tear down every building and then re-construct them all about 1km down the road, near where the weekend market is held. So now all the buildings are off the road a little bit—and of course everyone has to walk an extra kilometer in order to buy ANYTHING. The best part is that now that there is no pesky town in the way, cars are flying by even faster. And the best part of that is that of course there are still tons of people walking along this road with the cars driving mush faster, because they all have to use it to go to their now annoyingly far away market. Now here is my question: why not just put in some speed bumps?
Meh. I suppose it’s a sign of how Cameroonian I’ve become that after about 2.7 minutes of being really upset at the injustice/stupidity/ridiculousness of it all, I heaved a sigh, mumbled “On va faire comment?” and kept walking. But crazy, no? My town is gone! Or, more accurately, my town is now annoyingly far away from my house.
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Ok, back to September. I plan on teaching basic health lessons at the Ecole Maternel (which is basically a pre-school—3 yr olds! In smocks! Oh the nauseating cuteness of it all!), as well as possibly doing some sort of environmental education classes at the Elementary School. And, heaven help me, I’m going to try again with the Girls Group, and at the same time attempt to create a Peer Educators Group. (Ha! Even now, before I start all of this I’m laughing at my own bravado! Ha! Ha.) Legs and I are still working on various soy projects—and a couple new ones should be starting up with the next rainy season. We harvested our last crop! And then had a meeting where we made a meal using the very soy we grew to prepare a traditional Cameroonian meal! And it was good! So many exclamation points, but really—when success happens here, I am very excited about it.
I’m also finally starting on the project that I went to that workshop in Yaoundé for last month—it’s called FARN/G, which is some terribly complicated acronym in French (or really, it’s not so complicated, but I am terribly lazy, and really, does anyone out there care what the letters stand for? If so, let me know and I’ll look them up—I know the ‘F’ is for the word ‘Foyer’) but the basic idea is that once a month we take our pre-natal consultations to the village. Remember that project I described last time I wrote involving the training of mid-wives? Well, I’m sure that is a spectacular project as well. However—I will not be attempting it. Instead…FARN/G! We (we meaning me, and a couple of nurses from the hospital, as well as some community members from the village) will form a group of pregnant and nursing mothers, including one mother who has used ‘good’ health practices in the past (i.e. went to pre-natal consultations, spaced her births, breastfed, vaccinated her children, etc) to be a positive example. The ‘community health agent’ (fancy bureaucratic word for someone who actually lives in the village that we will train briefly in Maternal and Child Health) will give some sort of health message, and then we will all cook and eat a nutritionally balanced meal using food available in village. (When I say in village, in this case I actually mean village—about 6km off the road from Ngoulemakong in any direction pretty much leads you into the bush, and we’ve chosen to start the project in 2 villages each about 10km away.) The idea is that each woman pays only about 300 CFA (about 75 cents) for ingredients and to cover our transportation out there, rather than over 1000 CFA to pay for her own transport to and from the hospital. We can also involve the rest of the community, and the women get about 2 hours just to sit down, which here is quite a treat.
Whew, that was a very long story, but I’m really excited about the concept of doing work—especially work that might actually be sustainable. Everyone says that 1st time volunteers (meaning people who don’t replace anyone, but open up their posts, like me) often don’t feel like their really doing anything until about a year in. Which, when you say that to a former administrative assistant from America, sounds freaking ludicrous. A year! What the hell are those people doing for a year before they get to work! Now that I have gone through that year, I can honestly say I have no idea what it is that I did, beyond the fact that I really was trying, and that I read a lot of books. But, here’s to being busy—which I vaguely remember to be a satisfying feeling.
Also, once it’s September, guess what will be only 3 months away? December!! Which means that I will see T-Bone in just over 3 months, and then Grandmaster Flash 2 months after that, and then The Lovely Miss Q and Beezzz 2 months after that! I don’t know if I can handle type of sustained bliss. But I’m damn well ready to try.