Back in Berkeley!

It is pretty crazy to think that only two weeks ago I was in the slums of Douala, riding bikes through the jungles, and being called “white man” everywhere I went. I am now back in Berkeley for school and sometimes when I think about my trip, I feel like it was a dream. Luckily, I have photos of my trip posted all over my room to remind me of my experiences this summer, and the friends I made.

When my friends and family ask me about my trip, I can honestly say I would not have change a single thing about it. Going with a tiny Cameroonian research body rather than an American organization allowed me to travel places and see things I would never have had the opportunity to do otherwise. I also greatly appreciate all of the challenges I faced because if my experience was perfect it would have been a false representation of global aid and voluntourism. Instead, I was exposed to corruption, sexism, cultural insensitivity, and more.

Although I was able to do all the work I was promised this summer, there were many bumps along the way. My first week in Cameroon I thought I was not going to have any work to do because of organizational issues at my job site. I learned throughout my experience that much of the money being given to my organization was not being used as it was intended. Frequently, donations are be spent for personal use instead of the actual projects. It is my fear that even if my project is funded, the work I planned out may not happen. I had a wonderful experience working with my co-worker and meeting the communities, and it breaks my heart that I could not promise them that their voices will be heard and that my project will go through to completion.

I believe that this form of corruption is greatly due to lack of transparency. Many employees at NGOs are passionate about their work and donators can help them avoid money embezzlement by sending payments in different sections (rather than all at once), while requiring receipts and pictures to insure that the money is being used as it was intended. CAEPA, like many other NGOs, has the potential to do great work, but it must learn to put the needs of communities impacted by their work above their own.

I have my surveys, reports, and project proposals back with me in the states, so if you are at all interested in learning more, please contact me. This semester I will be in GPP 196, the post-practice experience class. I will have two hours every week to reflect with 10 other GPP students on our experiences this summer. One of my projects will be either to write a grad school application or a Fulbright application, and I am so excited to start!

Thank you again for following my blog and although I am incredibly happy to be back in Berkeley, I miss my time in Cameroon, and will be back in the future. This spring semester I am studying abroad in Argentina for 7 months, and I will make sure to post my new blog on this site when it gets closer to the date!

XO,

Julie

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August 6th- August 10th

 

Tuesday, August 6th– Ndop District Hospital!

Today I finished up my report in the morning, and in the afternoon I visited my friend Stanley who works at the Ndop District Hospital as a nurse in the emergency room. It was very interesting to see the facilities, or lack thereof. While I was there, a girl was brought into the ER room and I was astonished by the lack of attention the doctor/nurse paid to her. Stanley even asked me to take a photo of him while he was examining her! Although the actual facilities were questionable, as expected in a third world country, the scenery was amazing. I must say I would not mind being treated in a hospital in a valley with gorgeous mountains on all sides!

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Wednesday, August 7th– Cameroonian Drama!

Today was my last day of work, but it was definitely the most culturally shocking! Because of a disagreement between me and my boss there was a lot of discussing and arguing, that ended up involving the entire Cameroonian family I stayed with (you can ask me details personally). Somehow the arguing went from intense to them professing they were all family again. I was given a certificate of appreciation by my boss and he told me he would write me any recommendation I wanted, very nice of him.

Tonight I had a dinner at another missionary family’s house and got to munch on cheese, humus, and pepper spread, very yummy!  The family consisted of a mom, dad and 7 year old son, along with their friend Janelle who is 30 years old. It was great being able to talk to them about my work and Cameroonian culture; it is amazing how much you can learn from an outsider that locals don’t think to tell you!

Thursday, August 8th– Sallah!

Muslims around the world have been fasting for a month during Ramadan, and I got to go to Sallah, the breaking of their fast in a village called Sabga. The Jackson’s invited me to go with them and Chris drove me up in the morning, which took about an hour. This Sallah was pretty laid back and I spent most of the day hanging out with the girls. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous there, and I appreciated having a chance to spend one last day in the bush before I leave for home. We feasted on rice, beef, vegetables, and even got to have tea with real milk! I must say the meat here in Cameroon is a lost tastier than in America!

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Friday, August 9th– Bye, bye Bamenda!

This morning Stanley picked me up at 7:30 AM and whisked me off to the bus station. We took Amour Mezam, a nice little coach for the 7 hour drive from Bamenda to Douala. It was cool seeing all the sites again with the eyes of a more experienced Cameroonian traveler. We arrived in Douala at around 4:00 and took several taxis to get to Stanley’s co-worker’s family’s house. As it turns out, this house is very close to the airport and is actually in the slums outside of Douala. However, it has a guard at the front and the family is well respected and known in the area. I stayed in the reverend sister’s room for the night, and got to enjoy all of the loud noise of the city!

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Saturday, August 10th– Last day in Cameroon!

This morning we went into town to check in with Brussels Airlines and visit around. It is very reminiscent of France and the disparity between the slum in which the family lives and down town is pretty astonishing. However, I feel safer in the slum with all of my Cameroonian contacts than in the city; all of the tall buildings and development is a reverse culture shock to me! Right now I am sitting getting my hair braided Rasta style. Let’s see if my mom reads this before she picks me up at the airport tomorrow!

I have had a phenomenal time in Cameroon and I am sad to see it come to a close. Thank you all for you prayers for a safe return and I promise to not miss any of my flights if I can help it! I must specifically thank all of my donors and family members; I would not be here without your love and support. I must also thank Molly for leading me to the GPP Minor, Chetan and Sean, my GPP minor advisors, and Clare my pre-practice professor! Thank you for following my blog and believing in my even when I have doubted myself and my work here. I am so excited to learn about other GPP students’ experiences and to give everyone a big hug!

August 3rd- August 5th

Saturday, August 3rd– Julie Gets Lost in the Jungle!

This morning I was picked up by Stanley at 10:30 to go for my last weekend in Zang. On the drive there we took a different direction so I we were able to travel through a partial savannah. Cameroon is considered “Africa in Miniature” because it has all of the different types of vegetation you can find around Africa. We were almost to Zang when our taxi driver got stuck in the mud. He tried for about 20 minutes to back up and keep going, but in the end abandoned his efforts. We decided I would walk the rest of the way and Stanley would grab a bike to carry all of the food. I walked, and walked past one Zang sign, looking for the next… I did not realize the next was a half hours walk away. When I got to that one I mistakenly asked for the directions to Zang and not The Guest House (their house), and was led COMPLETELY off track. I finally realized I was going up into the hills and ran back down for 20 minutes, grabbed a moto, and made it safely to their house. Very luckily I was lost in the jungle than in a foreign town!

After I bathed (warm water again!) and rested, Celeste took me to the Meta’s championship football game. When they saw they had a white man in their midst, they asked me to kick off the ball, quite an honor. I was led out to the field with all of the important leaders then when the whistle sounded I ran at the ball and kicked it straight; who knew everyone could cheer so loud for a whit e man? After halftime Stanley and I went over to watch the women’s handball competition- which is pretty much football but with your hands. Nothing at all like American handball! To finish up the night we went home, ate, and watched the Amazing Spider Man, a favorite movie of mine.

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Sunday, August 4th– Last Day in Zang

This morning I went to church at Mama Salome and Pa John’s Presbyterian Church right in their quarter. It is the size of a small classroom, very personal, and I even got to participate in the music making; I was given a shaker! At the end of church Mama Salome introduced me to the congregation and explained how we met back in America when she and John were living with her son Gideon, and they all attended my church. It is amazing that 4 years ago she was in my homeland, and that I have now had the opportunity to travel to hers. That is when the crying started, and all on my part. I am not a big crier, but the Cameroonians must be bringing it out in me!

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Mama invited the entire congregation over for a farewell lunch. At lunch I sat in the middle with Stanley while all of the guests surrounded us. After lunch Mama Salome got up and led everyone in a song that I learned from her back in America. Then Pa John got up and gave me a farewell blessing and prayer. He said that I should not fear that I will not see them again, that I will always be connected with them in the spirit. That is when I started bawling, in front of everyone. He even stopped to check if I was okay, but I reassured him it was just because I would miss them all! We then went around saying goodbye to everyone, and then started our journey back to Bamenda.

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Monday, July 5th– Last week in Bamenda

I cannot believe that I only have 5 more days in Bamenda! I am partially SO excited to go home, and also sad to be leaving everyone. This may be my last post before I leave, but hopefully I will make it to the internet on Friday. I am taking a night bus on Friday night with Stanley to Douala (about 6 hours), and spending Saturday at his friend’s house in Douala, and then going to the airport and leaving from there at 9:30 PM. My flight plan takes me from Douala to Brussels to Newark, and finally to San Francisco. My mom will pick me up on Sunday night from San Francisco and take me immediately to my family vacation at the B&W.

This last week I promise to stay safe, and appreciate every moment to its fullest! I miss you all and cannot wait to see you in person again!  

July 29th- July 31st

Monday, July 29th- Last week of field work!

Today I started my last week of field work by visiting another agricultural community at Mile 4 called Menda. The main environmental challenges this community suffers from are the irregularity in the rainy season and poor soil, both which affect their yields. There has also been rampant deforestation to make room for development, but whether tree felling is occurring in the bushes as well as in the neighborhood is unclear.

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In the afternoon, I went over to the Jackson’s house to visit and use their fast internet (the American family). Their house is only a 10 minute walk from mine. I was able to skype with my family and catch up on some AXO work. I ended up staying the whole afternoon and got to eat dinner there too. The family is incredibly welcoming and their house is like a little oasis. Very exciting to be able to use a flushable toilet for the first time in Cameroon!

Tuesday, July 30th- The Jackson Village ❤

Since Menda suffers from very few issues, the surveys were very short today and I finished work at around 11 AM. I went over to the Jackson’s again to buy some coffee from the father, and stayed again all afternoon to type up my reports and hang out with the girls. Although, I cannot say that I got that much work done! The Jackson‘s house is called the Jackson Village, because there are always 10 or more people in the house; and they consider all their friends as a part of the family. It has been very lonely back at my home for the past week because Mama Regina has been on a trip to Yaounde and the boys keep going out, so I really appreciated being invited to stay for dinner for a second night in a row. ALSO, I learned that they have two horses!!! Caitlin said I can go riding with her if I like; something I will have to take advantage of next week!

The Jacksons’s Kitchen! Karissa on the right and Loom on the left! 

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Their view! 

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Horses!!!

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Wednesday, July 31st- Over the hump!

For some reason homesickness decided to hit this past weekend, and stay until today, but I think I am finally over the hump! I was up late last night worrying about trifles and felt really off at work so I left the field early to go on a run and clear my head. This was my first time running in Cameroon and although a little tough, it was beautiful out and the views of the town are gorgeous from the hills (I do cardio kickboxing in my room to stay in shape, but no running!).

Afterwards, Karissa Jackson invited me to go into town and grab coffee with the girls and some visiting friends. We went to Prescafe, the restaurant next to the craft place, and I got to have a delicious cappuccino. The Jackson’s and their friends are hilarious; I could very easily live with them all year round, and I already feel like part of the family. It is always fun to go around with them since they speak pigeon fluently and know how to handle themselves in the market. We decided to head home after some thrift shopping when it started to rain.

Prescafe! Karissa, Loom (their Cameroonian sister), me, and Johnathan (a friend from the US) 

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Karissa was driving us back home in their family car when an idiotic taxi driver drove into the side of our car. Immediately we were surrounded by Cameroonians on all sides fighting over what had happened and who was at fault. Amazingly, Karissa kept her cool while insisting she was not at fault. We were blocked in by the taxi and unable to drive away, but she was able to finally convince the driver to back up and let us through. Our car was scratched, but his entire bumper was falling off and the side of his car was crunched in—his own fault. We drove away without further discussion, since the taxi driver did not want to have to deal with paying us for the scratch. Driving in Cameroon is crazy, and we were very lucky that we were in the North West Region, since elsewhere the witnesses might have insisted that the white person was at fault purely because they are white and are more likely to have money. However, the general public is a lot more accepting here than in other regions.

My day was made when Mama walked in at 6 PM with all of her luggage. She has been gone for a week, and I am so happy to have her back! 

July 25th- July 26th

 Thursday, July 25th– American Friends!

Today I had the pleasure of going out to lunch at Prescafe with Karissa and Caitlin Jackson, another Caitlin, and Jonathan. Karissa and Caitlin are the daughters of Chris Jackson and both grew up in Cameroon. The family moved to Cameroon when Karissa was one to do mission work Karissa is my age and goes to Bioka University in Southern California. Caitlin is currently being homeschooled in Bamenda, but plans on attending an American University. Jonathan and Caitlin are from the states and are here this summer doing mission work. They are all very interesting, passionate, and fun people, so I had a great afternoon getting to know them better. The lunch was delicious; I got to have pasta and vegetables, along with a mango smoothie (with guava nectar). I also had the chance to explore downtown from the tourist eye since Karissa and Caitilin took us around shopping. Can’t spoil the present surprises yet, but I did get a very cool handmade wooden map of Cameroon for myself :]

Friday, July 26th– Cameroonian Birthday!

I was able to finish the first draft of my project proposal for reforestation in Mbelewa and Mbesi today. It includes a calendar, full budget, and a log frame- my pre-practice class prepared me perfectly for this work (we had to do a similar exercise for our final project). The project includes forming 6 women farming groups and 4 environmental clubs in schools, teaching participants about climate change, reforestation, water, waste, and soil management. They will be trained on reforestation techniques; CAEPA will set up 10 nurseries, one for each group, and in the end plant a total of 5,000 trees in the community. There will also be an event on the World Environmental Day, along with a memorandum calling for Bamenda City Council to treat waste before dumping it in Mbelewa’s hills. The total cost of the project is only $11,500, and we are only asking $9,000 from an outside donor. Roger and Nicoline will start researching donors who would be interested in funding the project. I am looking forward to hearing about how it goes through! I wish I was around to help implement it, though.

This afternoon I went to a Cameroonian birthday party, it was supposed to start at 2, but of course started at 6. They have MCs for birthday parties, and he started the party by reading the program. They then had an opening prayer. The VIPs or birthday boy and family were called into the room one by one and we cheered for them as they went to sit down. There were then a few speeches (very short) by the birthday boy and his brother. The MC then called a few guests up to play a few games to get the party laughing. Even though I don’t know the birthday boy personally at all, they called me up, of course. I have it admit it was mortifying, I couldn’t understand what they were saying and the MC kept referencing America and pointing at me (one of the things I really dislike about Cameroonian culture). However, once we were able to eat a little bit and they started playing music, I was able to become more comfortable. I was called up one last time to slow dance with a random guy at the party along with several other couples. We got home at 8 and it is pretty scary walking through the quarter that late, something I would never do alone and don’t plan on doing again! 

July 17th- July 20th

Wednesday, July 17th– Farm work!

Today I was able to accompany Mama and Titus to one of Mama’s farms. The farm is about 25 by 50 meters; 75 by 150 feet. From 8-11 we worked harvesting corn, which entailed breaking the corn off the stalk and then breaking the stalk in half to show that we have already been to that one. By the end I was soaking wet from all of the water in the crops! It was pretty enjoyable work because unlike farming in California the day was cloudy and I didn’t have to bend over to do the work! The locals were pretty surprised to see a white girl getting dirty working in a farm; they stared even more than usual when walking by. One woman told Mama in Pigeon that it was good that she was teaching the white man how to work, so that I can go back to America and teach all the other white men how to work :p Another man told Mama that she will give me to him as a wife… I wonder if these individuals know that I can understand them when they make these comments!

Thursday, July 18th– Last day in the Mboro community

To be honest, this week was pretty tough. The cultural differences in the Muslim Mboro community are very foreign to me now that I am used to the farmer communities. It did not help that the questions I was given to ask them did not allow them to talk about issues that they are facing. This community is close to town, but most of the men own cattle back in their villages. They pay cattle herders to take care of their cows. The cattle herders are the ones directly suffering from the decrease in rainy season because there is less pasture for the cows to graze on. As a result of the decrease in wealth in the cattle business, many of the owners in this community are moving towards driving and business to make up for the loss. Therefore, many of the women and men alike did not know how to respond to or understand my questions about how they are affected by climate change. When I went back to discuss this with my supervisor, we decided that he will go in to the field with me in two weeks and that we will  go directly to a village where they herd cows. That way he can help translate and phrase the questions so that the villagers understand better what I am asking them.

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Saturday, July 20th– An adventure of a lifetime!

Yesterday I traveled for a second time to Zang Tabi to visit the Ticha family. Today, Stanley and Celestine took me on quite an adventure up to the Mboro community in the hills of Zang. Zang is made up of 8 quarters, the Mboro community being the 8th. There is no way to get there except to trek, and we trekked for 4 hours from the Ticha house to get to the top, through the rain! I felt like I was back in Peru hiking the Inca trail, except that there were no well paved paths. Instead, I was constantly slipping from the mud and the rocks; I must admit I was very worried I would break my leg a couple of times. In the Mboro community I had the pleasure of meeting the fon of the community, the traditional leader there. This Mboro community is very different from the one I visited this past week. They don’t leave the area except to travel down to the market once a week with their cattle. Most of the women have had no education, and it is only the boys that make it to primary school (elementary), and sometimes secondary school (high school). On the way out I bought some raw milk from them, which I get to try tomorrow after we boil it! I also got to have my first warm bucket shower after the long trek, what a treat!

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Sunday, July 21st– Moto galore

Stanley’s co-worker, Divine, accompanied us this weekend to Zang on his motorcycle. Therefore, I got to ride around on his bike as we traveled to the other communities in Zang. We visited the Health Care Center in a neighboring village and made it to the second half of church. I then got to eat lunch with the Health Care Center’s staff who treated me to some chicken and cocoyams, yum! The driver that took us to Zang was supposed to come and pick us up again, but never showed up; we even waited until African time—an hour after! To get home we decided to ride the motorcycles until we could get to a bus. I went on Divine’s bike and Stanley went on his brother’s bike. It was pretty cool to get up to 50 mph on the freeway on a motorcycle, something I would never have had the chance to do in America. But don’t worry mom and dad, Divine gave me his helmet to wear before we left!

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July 13th- July 15th

Saturday, July 13th– Downtown Bamenda

Today I was supposed to go to the farm with Mama Regina, but because a toothache kept her up all night :[ I ended up going to town with Titus instead. Downtown Bamenda is Commercial Avenue where you find the largest market of goods and foods and many different stores, banks, restaurants, etc. We ended up trekking there, which took us about an hour, and then walked around for an hour. The market place is jam packed with little shops selling anything and everything including plastic tubs, baby supplies, kitchen supplies, spices, fruits, chickens, clothes, fabric, imported goods, etc! I also passed many different furniture shops on the way downtown where they display their handmade or imported couches right out on the roadside. On Commercial Avenue I stopped by Prescraft, a Presbyterian Free Trade store my American acquaintances told me about. Although a little shabby looking on the outside, stepping inside transported me to a chic store in Los Altos. The store is known for its pained pottery items, but they have local masks, flagons, kitchenware, jewelry and more. If I had my way I would buy everything; thank goodness I have a budget!

 

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Best hair cut ever:

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Sunday, July 14th– Mbororo Community

Tomorrow I will be starting my surveying in my third community, which is a stationary Mbororo community. Mbororo communities are primarily made up of Muslim farmers; since this one is stationary they do some agriculture, along with taking their cattle further into the bush for grazing. Right now Muslims are in their month of fasting, so I will have to make sure to eat a big breakfast to avoid rudely snacking in front of them! My survey questions will be slightly different for this community. Here are some of the paraphrased questions:

How does the grazing method work? Who is involved?

Have you experienced any environmental changes over the past few years? Since when?

Are there differences in the rainy/dry season?

Have these changes affected your grazing, agricultural produce, livelihoods, or daily life?

Are these environmental changes aggravated by particular social structures/issues?

How do you cope with the consequences of the environmental/climate change? With regards to grazing, agriculture, social/economic impacts?

Have you adapted your grazing or cultivation methods? If not, why no changes?

I am sure it will be very interesting to learn about their grazing methods! In other news, I am almost all done with my two reports, which are 7 pages each; I feel like I am back in school!

 

July 15th– Culture shock!

The Mbororo Pastorlist population is one of the marginalized minorities in Cameroon. The community I am going to this week is called Ntambang and only has about 60 households in it. To get there I have to take a taxi for 15 minutes and then hike up to the hills for about 25 minutes. The Mbororo community is more “civilized” than other ones because it isn’t migratory. The population either herds cattle and/or farms. The most prevalent environmental concern that the herders face is a decrease in available grazing land with the increase in population near Bamenda. As for the farmers, they are greatly concerned by the distinct change in rainy/dry season; since the seasons are no longer predictable the farmers are having difficulty planning for planting and harvesting.

As for my culture shocks, I was pretty caught off guard when I saw a girl of 13 years nursing her child in the community today. It is even more common in the Mbroro communities for the girls to get married and have children at this age. I am 20 and can’t even imagine having the responsibility of taking care of another human!

One of the families I interviewed:

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After work today I also got to see Titus slaughter a chicken and I helped mama pluck it clean. I have to say it was pretty neat to see Mama take the chicken apart and show me all the parts; it brought me back to AP Bio! 

 

Our Dinner! 

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July 10th- July 12th

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: 

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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: 

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Their lesson for the day! :

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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. 

July 7th – July 9th

Sunday, July 7th– Eagle’s World

This morning I went to a small Pentecost church called Eagle’s World near my house. I had been invited by a gal who works at the internet café I go to regularly; her name is Rophine and is 24 years old, one of the first women I have met around my age. There are over 50 different churches recognized in Cameroon, so I won’t be surprised if I end up at a new one every weekend! The pastor was incredibly enthusiastic jumping up and down and shouting and preached for 2 hours straight. He knew everyone’s name in the church and kept us laughing with his references to daily life situations (he reminded me of my pastor Mark’s sermons!) After his sermon members could ask about certain bible verses, which he would clarify. The entire shebang went on for 3 hours, and he said he had ended earlier than usual! At 12 I went over to Rophine’s one room apartment for lunch with her friend from church. She served us a yummy spicy rice and fish dish, a Cameroonian favorite. On the walk to her place, Rophine asked me if I might know anyone who would be interested in having a full time nanny in the United States. It is very difficult for Cameroonians to get US VISAs and this is one of the ways that makes it possible to travel there. I told her I would reach out to my contacts and let her know if I get anyone who might be interested!

Monday, July 8th– Football galore!

One of the women I interviewed today had formed her own CIG that teaches farmers the best trees to plant to increase soil fertility and water catchment in the area. I was able to record her interview and hope to make it to one of their meetings this Friday. The educated individuals I have interviewed so far mark deforestation as their largest environmental concern. However, the majority of the respondents do not understand what environmental problems are and immediately talk about water scarcity; but even the decrease in bush water is linked to deforestation as well. I look forward to learning more about this women’s CIG and what type of trees they recommend for replanting, hopefully I can incorporate them into my report! After work today I ran into Bison (a nickname for Hansen for his football skills), the friend I hiked up to Upstation with last week with Titus. He invited me to come and watch a football game (soccer for all your Americans :p) in the quarter. I went with him after lunch and watched two games. He explained that there are around 9 teams in this tournament and that games will be going on in the quarter for the next month and a half. The crowd was very enthusiastic and I was one of three girls there watching, most of the spectators are on the other competing teams and they are all male teams. It was a nice way to spend the afternoon after work and I plan on going to other games during my time here.

There will be way more spectators as the week goes on! 

 

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The team Bison is going to join! Image

Tuesday, July 9th– Tubah Chimpanzee Conference

Although today was my longest work day yet, I didn’t do a bit of work! Instead, I attended the conference CAEPA put on to launch a Chimpanzee Conservation project in Tubah, an area neighboring Bamenda. The conference I am sure was very interesting, but it was all in Pigeon so I only understood parts! I ended up journaling for most of it and writing letters. Afterwards, my boss’s friend told him that I was intently taking notes… that made me laugh. I didn’t get to eat lunch until 2:30 and I had to wait until 5, 3 hours after the conference finished, to go back home. Surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered! I must be getting really good at fasting and being patient :] 

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July 4th- July 7th

Thursday, July 4th– American Independence in Cameroon!

I had a great day in the field this morning, and then took the rest of it off to celebrate and explore Bamenda. Titus took me to Upstation, the highest point to look out over Bamenda (which has a population of 1 million). Although he said we would take a taxi, once he learned I like to trek he decided to have us walk up to the top… a total of 2 hours on the way up! His friend, Hansen, joined us along the way and after the taxi ride down I got to hang out in town with him for a bit while we waited for the rain to pass. In the evening I held true to my country and bought the family beer and listened to country music on the porch outside the house. Overall, it was a great 4th, but I must say I did miss the fireworks over the Delta!

There are waterfalls everywhere in the hills since it is the rainy season! Image

 

The view from one side of Upstation, this is only a small portion of the city!

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The first sidewalk I’ve seen in Cameroon! Image

 

 

 

Friday, July 5th– Sleepy, sleepy Julie

I fell asleep at 8 pm last night. I swear I have become the biggest grandma while here. I can barely keep my eyes open after 7 and force myself to stay up until 9 pm so that I won’t wake up earlier than 6:30 in the morning, which I now do naturally. I will have to get back to my normal midnight bedtime to survive school next semester!

Saturday, July 6th– Ndawara Tea Estate

Titus took me on an adventure to the Ndawara Tea Estate this morning, the one tourist spot in the North West Region. We took a taxi to a neighboring quarter, and then squeezed into another one with 6 other people. Who knew a 5 person car could fit 8! We passed a police control, where they are specifically supposed to check that the car isn’t over capacity, but there was no problem so I guess 8 is the limit? The view was spectacular as we climbed up the mountain and on the other side we took an hour long motorbike ride up to the park, my abs were killing me by the end.. It’s like riding a horse since it is awkward for me to hold on to the stranger driving the bike in front of me. At the checkpoint before the park they took down all my information and that happened two more times, a little nerve racking because I had only brought my driver’s license! We got a whole tour of the tea factory, very cool, and when I left they gave me a gift of 8 tea boxes to bring back to America and share (my roommate at Cal is going to be very happy :] )! After that they walked us up through where the workers live (this is high in the mountains so the workers live right next to the factory and make up the estate) to the small zoo-like area. I got to see a huge snake, ostriches, peacocks, and even hold a chimpanzee named Billy! 

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Tea!

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The little town:

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Animals!!!

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Meet Billy! 

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