Yes this is a grand overstatement, but it sounds better than: a peace corps volunteer who goes to remote villages for health animations, attends a beekeeping conference and is experiencing a drought. Honestly the last one is worst than it sounds.
I was back at post for only ten days after the Inter-Service Training conference before going to a beekeeping conference in Ngaoundere. In that short period of time I was able to hit the countryside and do a series of malaria and nutrition animations in very small villages on the lake and out in the bush (the countryside). One of the villages Housseini and I visited in the bush looked like it was out of a Discovery Channel show with it’s painted houses that I never saw in the villages that sit on the road from Mbakaou to Tibati. The villages by the lake are also important to visit, because I found, to my surprise, that many of the locals are still lacking a lot of information on malaria despite their close proximity to the lake. On top of this they are a fair distance from the nearest health center making a visit expensive, difficult and often done in only extreme cases. This is a major problem for healthcare in rural Africa in general. A round trip motorcycle or car ride to the nearest health center plus the cost of treatment, can be a major blow to the family budget of a farmer or fisherman. This is why prevention (especially with malaria) is so important and why I believe these odd little visits to villages are absolutely worthwhile. I just hope the information is well received. It can be a difficult sell convincing people to do anything different in their personal lives, especially if the information is coming from an outsider who does not even speak Fulfulde/Hausa/Gbiya.
Regarding the second overstatement, I recently attended a bee keeping conference. As you might have deducted, income (or lack of) is a strong detriment of proper (or any) treatment. Upon hearing of the conference, I saw the production of honey as a possible income generating activity in the surrounding communities. My before mentioned counterpart Housseini runs a local agriculture group in the small town of Bolinting. We are planning on starting the project with them. As someone who use to be afraid of bees, this conference posed some challenges, but with a rudimentary bee keeping suit (a wide brimmed hat, raincoat, jeans, hiking boots, gloves and a mesh around my face) and lots of smoke derived from leaves, branches and cow poop, we were able to protect ourselves. However now my hat smells like smoky cow poop. The conference was interesting and I hope to keep you all updated with the project as it comes into being.
Finally, the biggest problem I have been facing recently has been the lack of rainwater. It is the end of dry season however rainy season is coming late leading to many of the wells drying up. Worse, of the five pubic water pumps in town (many built by foreign NGO’s and corporations), only one works. There is another one but it is privately owned. There is a well in my compound however it is almost completely dry. When I throw the bucket down to fetch water, the side of the bucket hits the bottom of the well and it usually brings up muddy water. I do have a water filter that cleans the dirty water, but it often means not having very clean showers and buying lots of bottled water too. It is a worrying concept and it surprises me that people seem so less concerned than myself. The problem is also affecting cities and other regions. In the regional capital of the Northwest, Bamenda, water has finally started running through the pipes after not working for three weeks! And this is a city! It does rain occasionally and when it does it rains hard. But it is a troubling development if it does not start raining regularly soon.