Wednesday, July 10th
I apologize for not clarifying my research here before! During my 7 weeks here I will visit a total of 5 different villages around Bamenda. I will survey 40 people in each community, meeting around 10 individuals a day. Since the communities are so small, around 700 people, I walk house to house and randomly ask community members to participate. As for the surveys, I ask them:
What the main environmental challenges the community faces?
Are they caused by inside the community or outside?
Do other communities experience the same problems?
Do these problems affect you daily? (Health wise/economically)
How do you cope with these challenges?
Do you think the community can cope with these challenges on their own?
Who do you think should protect the environment?
Have you received any outside help?
For all these questions I usually need to rephrase them, or even ask them specifically about the weather, water, waste, and tree felling, since many community members are uneducated about environmental challenges. They are formatted to be open ended so that participants can elaborate. These questions are accompanied by a household survey that gets specific information about their age, occupation, household size, etc.
So far I have finished with Mbelewa and Mbesi and am working on the reports with the help of my friend Anna from home who is a genius at helping me make my papers sound better!
A quarter leader’s children! I taught them to call me Aunty Julie:
Thursday, July 11th- Soil Lab
Today I went with Eveline, a family friend, to her soil lab in Bamenda where she is training to become a lab assistant. They showed me around the compound and explained all of the different tests they do here and how they are performed. The research body that runs the lab is hired by different companies to test soils near the companies’ facilities to see if they are good road building material. They take soil from nearby the road, run tests on it to find out how is fares under different weather conditions and if it is a good material to mix with cement to build a road. If it is they suggest using the soil from around the area to build the road. If not, they recommend transporting in different soil to build it. They have about 6 different trucks because they are hired by companies all over Cameroon. It was very interesting to see all of the tests they had to do manually, and all of the graphs they had to draw by hand; most of which is computerized in America! Takes a lot more time with a lot more room for error!
The other trainees, Eveline is the only female:
Their lesson for the day! :
Friday, July 12th- American friends!
At the CAEPA conference on Tuesday I met Yakubu, a herder from near Mile 5, who put me in contact with the Jackson family, an American family living in Mile 3. The Jacksons have lived in Cameroon for around 19 years now doing mission work. I texted the father, Chris Jackson, and he kindly invited me over for their Friday Pizza Night. Who would have known that when I showed up that there would be 10 American students from a southern California University on a 5 week mission trip, several Peace Corps volunteers from Bamenda, and several other American friends from around Cameroon who are here in Bamenda on holiday! There were about 20 of us in total! I had a great time meeting everyone and was able to get some of their contact information to meet up with them in the weeks to come. I have got to say it was really nice being able to speak with people who understand the cultural experiences I am facing and understand my California accent! Plus I got to eat cheese, my first dairy product in a month :] Side note, 2 of the university students have malaria, they say it is like the flu here, they just take the antibiotic along with their normal pill to treat it.