Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pressing Play

So I’ve finally forced myself to sit myself down and get out a long overdue blog post. Here is a quick synopsis of the happenings in Batouri over the past two months. Back to my third-world self…

Ever make a decision that was extremely tough to make, but knew in the end it was what in the long run would be best for you? I made that in my decision to continue on with my service. Though it hasn't been easy, having been blessed with wonderful family and friends and their support sure has helped! For good and for bad this experience has not in the least been uneventful. I picked up most projects where they were left off and realized just how much I’m going to miss my Cameroonian friends. My housing situation dramatically changed. When my security at my house was called into question, it became apparent moving houses immediately was the only option. I'm no longer living next to Jessica. In fact, I’m now living in a neighborhood in the opposite side of town. It's a Muslim neighborhood, which for the cultural experience I’m finding quite interesting. I will always miss walking home at sunset listening to the call to prayer.

I made yet another trip out to Kentzou to see Julia. This time she was not alone. Her new post mate Geoff, a Health volunteer, was there as well. Here we are walking to check out his garden.

The lovely Julia and I. To say it straight, I think she's pretty cool. A great support to have in the East.

Hanging with Julia’s friend, Abdoulaye, in the Kentzou market where he owns a pagne shop.

Peace Corps in Batouri! James, the patron of us business volunteers, stopped in for a site visit. I was able to show him and talk about my projects. James was a volunteer in Kentzou back in the 80’s. Last few days at this house. He was able to approve my new house, and thus I was very lucky it was just over a week from deciding to move to being able to be in my new house. Pictures of the new digs in the next post!

December brought two new volunteers to Batouri. Stephanie is a Youth Development Volunteer and Mike is and Agro Forestry Volunteer. Here we are eating one of our many gourmet family dinners. The ambiance of candlelight dinners is not foreign to any of us.

Took a trip with Mike to visit Mindourou, a village 100k southeast of Batouri, where he works with an association. The typical dusty, unpaved road of Eastern Cameroon that is such a necessary evil it has become the pain of my Peace Corps travel experiences!

Celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8 with Stephanie. This year’s theme was tolerable: Leading Women into Modernity.

For the Handicapped and Orphan Youth Group, last month’s theme was animals. For their art project those present made animal masks.

In this picture I am teaching (well, let’s be honest, when working with 20+ African children I’m actually yelling) different animal parts, i.e. whiskers, horns, tail.

To practice we did a spin on “pin the tail on the donkey”, but with the different animal parts. I’m going to let you guess what animal I’m holding so you don’t judge or laugh too much. Stephanie and I had an amusing time with our drawing skills.

With Pauline, center, the lady that runs the Youth Group and some of the older youth. Can you tell we are melting from the humidity?

For science this month, I chose to make the effort to talk about recycling. Everybody had bags and went around picking up trash. Then, I dumped them out in front of everybody so we could talk about the commonalities of what they found.

Malnutrition project is going smoothly. On this day, we were giving each mother a small amount of funds. They could decide either to start a small business with it or purchase seeds to grow food to sell. This woman chose to buy seeds.

Been in this place long enough to benefit from some development. We are about to enjoy a delicious dinner in Bertoua at a newly opened Lebanese restaurant. It’s on the second floor atop a nightclub and overlooking the city. Crazy.

Geoff and I donning standard travel attire of the Extreme Easties. Travel pictures never get old. If you zoom in closer I’m already sporting my orange glow.

For reasons you can appreciate, a well for my youth group has so far been one of my most meaningful projects. We did two dedications. Here the Catholic priest is reading out a blessing for when we began the well. Thank you to all who contributed, we are very blessed :D.

Here we are congregating together to again bless the well having finished it. Even the Sous-Prefet (local head of government – back, center) showed up! The local Adventist pastor did the blessing. We all agreed it was a real dedication since an hour after the blessing it started to rain and rained the rest of the day. One of the days I'll remember most from my Peace Corps Service.