Thursday, September 25, 2014

Back to Freshman Year and Cacao Trees

Hey everyone.  As I am writing this I have three young children hanging on to me, watching what I am doing. I have completed my first week of training. I like it so far and the Peace Corps certainly seems to know what we need in terms of practical and language training as well as other topics like medical and safety training.

Saturday, my home stay father and I visited the bush farm where he grows cacao in the jungle on a hill.  We were armed with machetes for the weeds and snakes.  It was interesting seeing his farm meshed into the jungle and up against the hillside, rows of cacao trees.  Soon he will sell them to distributors (from there they will end up in producing chocolate).  We reached the top of a nearby hill where the Orange cell phone antenna is and returned down to the village past the Presbyterian seminary.

On Tuesday, we visited the Mengong health center to see a nurse led meeting on mother and infant health.  It was pretty well organized and the health center definitely appeared to be a good model of a properly run health center in Cameroon.  I found it very significant that prices for the treatments and medications were posted.  This is not always common and it prevents corruption and allows the patients to know they are paying proper prices.  This instils trust from the community towards the health center and even the government.

I like training but can see why volunteers struggle the most during it. Along with intense training, we have a language barrier, culture shock, life in a home stay family, adapting to a new lifestyle (like using a latrine and bucket showers) and common sickness.  Also, all of this happens at once.  However I think everyone in our group is handling it very well and this adaptation process is essential for our two year post.

Right now training reminds me of freshman year of college: it's a whole new environment, there is a heavy class schedule, I have roommates I struggle to relate to (ie. my home stay family) and if one person in the dorm/training stage gets sick....everyone gets sick.

I'm really liking Cameroon and although I know there will be hardships ahead, I'm optimistic.

Au revoir!

Photos on Facebook!

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