12 July 2011

Summer Camps and 4ht of July

Lately I have been very busy. My postmate, Lindsey, and I have been working on doing two short summer camps in our area. The first part was in Bamboué with girls aged 15-20. The main topics were future building, empowering girls, and sports. So we taught the girls Ultimate Frisbee with Yaya, the agro volunteer outside of Mbouda. They got the hang of it surprisingly quickly and now we have weekly Frisbee on Sundays. Overall the sessions went well. We tried to do a lot of art and creative things since most of the girls are not used to thinking out of the box. There was a minor setback for this camp; we set up a panel of professional women to come and speak to the girls to talk to them about how they became successful, but only one of the women showed up (and it was my counterpart). That was disappointing and it was supposed to be our last real session, so the camp did not end on the highest note. I had an enjoyable time with Lindsey, Yaya, Eric, and all of the girls in the camp. I really hope that the girls walked away with a better idea of opportunities available to them for their futures and the actual path they need to take to get there.

The second summer camp did not go as well. It was supposed to be with the Mbororos up in the mountains. We first encountered trouble trying to take motos up to them because we had too much stuff. The moto men were trying to rip us off and so we wasted a lot of time arguing and finally gave up. Then we decided to walk up. It took us a while and luckily on the way we found a moto to take our things for us. Then we got there and did a session on nutrition. It went really well and the mothers were all there and learning a lot. The ages were varied starting from a few years to the young mothers. It was Lindsey, myself, and Anaïs. Anaïs was the only one able to communicate in Fufuldé so we mostly spoke through her. (A side note is that my village all speaks the same patoi except for the Mbororo community which speaks Fufuldé, a Fulani, Muslim dialect. As a result this community does not communicate much with everyone else except in broken French or pidgin English.) So after the nutrition lesson we stopped for the day since we had gotten there late. We were then served two dinners of couscous and leafy sauce. I enjoyed it, but it was too much. We stayed up for the night to save time. They put us up in one of the houses near by all squished on one bed. Throughout the night my stomach was getting more and more upset. By morning I was not doing so well. Luckily I tried to push through so that I could milk a cow. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. We saw a baby calf just after it was born too. This day we did not get to do most of the work that we had planned, but we were able to do sports and some art with the kids. To end we took horses down back to my house. I am not sure the kids got much out of the short camp, but I can hope.

For the 4th of July the American Embassy had a party a little early. It was their ‘social event of the year’ and it featured the Peace Corps 50 year anniversary. 50 Peace Corps Volunteers were invitied along with over 1000 other guests. There were Embassy people, other international embassy staff, as well as important Cameroonians. I really enjoyed being able to get to meet several new people. Hearing about the lifestyles of foreign service officials was enlightening and bizarre. They are able to live in a virtual America even in Cameroon. We were just as bizarre to them.

On the actual 4th I went to Dschang and spent an afternoon at the pool with some other volunteers. We made pizza for dinner with potato salad and mango cobbler. What more can you ask for? Also I cut my hair! I now have bangs and about 8 fewer inches. It is much easier to wash now.