Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I dropped the bucket

Yes, so I was like... oh my god! I just lost my family's bucket for the well! I was really embarassed and … well... I felt bad that I lost it. But everything will be (I hope), my sister said she can probably get it out and that it happens all the time. ANYways, I've got some great photos! I also have some really great videos of the dancing, but I can't upload them until I get to faster internet. 

Dancers from the North West. They were a bit freaky because of those masks!!

These pictures are from Diversity Day at Peace Corps! We had a lot of cultural dances performed from groups here in the Grand South, ate food from every region in Cameroon, and danced until we couldn't possibly sweat any more! Cameroonian dancing is vigorous, not very easy! But it was really fun; they also played a few American songs, like Blow by Kesha (STILL WANT TO KARAOKE THAT SONG EMILY).

Dancers from Bafia, Center Region

Training is starting to wind down! I have my final presentation in French next Tuesday! I am going to present “Better Business Practices” which is actually more like Basic Business Practices but... I'm presenting the advantages of keeping a records and accounts of a store/vender in the market. First, I'm going to do a skit where a woman doesn't keep track of her accounts, and at the end of the day, she doesn’t know how much money she has made. Its actually the reality here; no one keeps track of how much, for example, corn they sell or keep and eat. Practically, its because many people are subsistence farmers, so they just sell things as they need money, but there is very little bookkeeping, so its possible that some shops and venders never know that they actually aren't making any money.

One week from today I will be officially a Volunteer, no longer a trainee! Its a really big deal. We all have our Swearing-in paine made into dresses and outfits (mine is a onesy), but I hope it will fit because I have gained a little weight here : ( so much bread and starches and literally no vegetables. When we get vegetables, they are cooked to death and covered in oil. I can't wait to cook for myself! I feel like my diet is why I've been feeling so exhausted every day. I literally go to bed every night at 8:30pm. Granted, I get up every morning at 5:45 am but still! Its so crazy! I feel like, 12 again!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sorry its been a little while since I've updated anyone on whats been going on!

I'll start with site visit. The Extreme North is SO different than down here! First of all, the people are very different. The major ethnic group there, the Fulbe's, are so beautiful and look so different than the (equally beautiful) people down here in the Grand South. They are lighter skins, have longer faces, and the women often have their nose pierced. The people generally tend to leave you alone when you are sitting out at restaurants/bars and when walking down the street. I ate brownies : )

My post is VERY rural. I am about 10 km from Chad. For real. I am not going to be getting very good cell phone reception because the Chad reception takes over my phone and it thinks that I am no longer in Cameroon! I also have a nice house (or it will be when I'm through with it!) in a very small, traditional village outside of Kaele. The people in my village have the traditional mud huts, but no fear, my house is cinder blocks, one of the few buildings in village not made out of the traditional mud bricks.

My primary work when I arrive at post will be twofold – I will be working with a group who have the funding to build an Agroforestry Educational Center, so I will be helping them plan and build the center, as well as facilitate training sessions. The educational activities will begin as soon as we have a well and hopefully throughout my two years we will get the building built as well. The second part of my work will be working with a women's group in village. The women are apparently very good at raising funds, but haven't organized themselves to decide how to spend their money, so they end up giving it to another group to build schools. That is all good, but the women want to start their own projects, and want me to come basically organize themselves and help them figure out WHAT they want to do!

But SOON I'll be a new volunteer and then I really will know what my work will be!

This past weekend was AWESOME! We went out in village to Bokito, where the health volunteers are staying, for the afternoon. I did Zumba for the first time! There is a Youth Development volunteer who was a Zumba teacher in the States. It was SO much fun! Then, we met up with everyone at a bar and continued the dance party (Cameroonians love to dance): we heard no joke Spice Girls. It was pretty amazing. Then that night the party kept rolling because we went to the dance club for the first time here! My sisters took me and some other trainees. It was out of control, mostly because it was SO hot in there – there is no air conditioning in Cameroon. And then the power went out while we were all on the dance floor, so everyone got out there cellphones and it kept on going!

I'm jealous of everyone about to enjoy Thanksgiving. But I am grateful for my life right now, and that I have so many good friends here to be family for each other. I love you guys!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

L'Extreme Nord!!

FAR NORTH!!! I'm going to be in the desert!! Kaele

Here is the following description of my post: "Kaele is a poorly developed divisional capital with a relatively large, but spread out, population. Kaele has electricity most of the time, and running water is becoming more available (though water is mostly unavailable during the hot season and electricity is very spotty rainy season). Kaele is a majority Moundang community, but as a divisional capital, it also has many other ethnic groups. French and Moundang are the main languages. Officially, Kaele is 40% Muslim, 40% Christian, and 20% animist, but nearly everyone practices the Moundang traditional religion. Kaele is a major alcohol-consumption post, and most social activities happen in the 20 or so bars in town or the over 100 bilbil cabarets. Men and women equally imbibe in alcohol, but this may lead to issues of integration for women, as alcohol certainly increases harassment. 

Kaele sits towards the bottom of the Diamare plain and is surrounded by 4 mountains that limit rainfall during rainy season. It is very hot most of the year, and hot and humid during rainy season. Kaele also has problems with advanced deforestation and moderate desertification. "

I'm taking over a post that does a lot of agribusiness work so I'll definitely be learning a lot of new things! The volunteer I'm replacing says he works with a lot of Co-ops, women's groups, and associations where he mostly trains members of groups management, basic accounting, transparency, and accountability. Most villages are also looking for help with water projects and cash crops that can replace cotton (soy is a big one!). 

I'M SO EXCITED! I also will have 2 post mates, and one other volunteer 10 km away, 2 males and a female. One is a Small Enterprise Development volunteer who just got there in August, the other is a Youth Development volunteer who is coming with me!

Anyways, I just wanted to let everyone know! I'm also going to be really close to a badass park, Rhumsiki!

I love you guys!!