June 25th – First day of work!
What an eventful day! I am happy to report that my work situation was able to work itself out, and I was able to fully plan out my time here with Keghah. This morning we went into town to buy a new printer, some umbrellas, and wine for community leaders; all to prepare for my work. Before I start surveying people, I must ask the community leaders’ permission. Keghah told me we need to bring gifts to the community leaders, but that he would get non-alcoholic wine so that their brains aren’t addled, haha. After lunch I went to 2 of the communities that are located at Mile 4 Nkwen. They are called Mbelewa and Mbesi II. Nicoline, one of Keghah’s 4 employees, joined us. She will help me facilitate my surveys for the next 7 weeks and I could not be happier to work with her! In order to meet the community leaders we first went to meet Mata, a teacher and social worker in Mile 4, who introduced us to the leaders. She told them that I was a Peace Corps volunteer and asked them permission for me to do my work in the communities. When I explained to her that I was just a student, she told me it is all the same to people in Cameroon. Both of the leaders were very kind and welcomed me into their communities. The community leader of Mbesi II had 2 little kids who started shouting “white man, white man” when they saw me. I tried to explain to them that “no I am ‘white woman’,” but they didn’t listen :] I will start interviewing households on Thursday in Mbelewa and then will move on to the next. On the way there and back we rode on motorcycles, my first time ever! Other than pretty terrifying with nothing to hold on to and no helmet, it was actually much smoother than going in a taxi.
June 26th – Preparing for research
Because I start surveying tomorrow, I was able to spend today typing up my background, hypothesis, and methods sections for my report, along with mapping out my goals and results section. This is my first scientific/anthropology report so I will be asking for input from my GPP advisors back home. Other than that it was a relaxing day. Mama made me plantains and an omelet for breakfast and friend fish pies for lunch; you would think she wants to fatten me up! When I am hanging around the house I help her shell beans and seeds outside while we people watch. For photos of the home and around town click here: https://www.facebook.com/julie.scrivner.31/media_set?set=a.10151749330363125.1073741831.676568124&type=3
Are you ready to help Mama harvest corn in two weeks? I am!
June 27th– First day of field work!
At 9 AM this morning Nicoline and I took the taxi/motorcycle ride to Mbelewa. We were able to survey 10 people in 4 hours, our daily goal. The vast diversity between the correspondents and their economic and physical well-being astounded me. Just from walking half a mile we talked to decently well off plantation owners, small farmers, call box workers and struggling single moms. I must say the most surprising thing to me has been how many parents have passed away when their children are still young; it’s not something you experience very often in California. From all of our surveying we learned that some of the land had recently been sold to the city by the fawn and for 3 months now city waste has been trucked up the road and dumped in their community. All of the trucks are causing a lot of noise, air, and ground pollution, and the waste plant is filled with harmful chemicals from the city that run off into water sources when it rains. This affects the water supply, which is already minimal because of a decrease in the rainy season since 2009. I am spending the afternoon typing up and organizing all of the responses I received. I am intrigued by all of this information and I am looking forward to 3 more days in this community!
All of the motorcycles!