Saturday, March 7, 2009

Celebrating 3 Months at Post

The first three months at post have flown by which means that the grace period for integration into the community is now over, according to Peace Corps, and it`s now time to figure out what i`m supposed to be doing for the next 21 months. I do feel like it`s going to take much more than these two years to really feel comfortable at post especially because of the language barrier, but I feel like I have some idea of some future projects.

For the past couple of weeks Matt, my postmate, and I have been visiting various quartiers around our post to look at future well sites and to hold community meetings to get to know the needs of the communties better. The main problems that were found was the lack of water, water quality, distance from the health center, soil fertility, and maternal health. This post is pretty unique because it encompasses a great mountainous region of almost 50,000 people. The vastness of the region poses some problems with getting in contact with people, no cell service as well, and getting people to come to you or vice versa. In an attempt to give a better depiction of the post I`ll describe how we got to different some of these places.

Digging at a well in Hitoa

Matt's Counterpart, Abdou, decided it would be fun to bring sodas on the hike for a treat at the end. This meant that he hiked with four glass bottles there and back. Not logical, but so worth it.

Hitoa-this was a two hour hike to get to this place that is butting up against Nigeria.
Gossi-in order to get here you have to skirt Nigeria, the road is in pretty bad shape and I was holding onto the moto for dear life the whole. Recommened if you want to work the triceps.
Hitoa-a 20 minute moto ride from the center of town and then a 1.5 hour hike up and down two mountains. After this one I realized that I need to be in much better shape to travel around here.

The most eye opening part of this is that at each place we hike to the well site and then we go to the current place where they get water or it`s described to us. This year has been especially hard because I guess it didn`t rain as much as normal the past rainy season. Women, who are in charge of getting water for the family, have to hike over 10km over mountains, coming back with 20-40 liters of water. Here`s a little math problem: the density of water = 1kg/liter, 1kg=2.2lb, how many pounds of water would one carry back?

With the hot season basically upon us, this problem will only get worse. Speaking of hot, it hit 102F in the shade yesterday in Maroua and I was only slightly uncomfortable in jeans and a tank top. If it were this hot at home, I would either be in a pool/ocean or in front of the airconditioner. Will my body get use to a New England winter after living here for 2 years...?

Just a few images from women's day. Women's Day in Cameroon means that if you have the money you buy the special pange (shown in the pic below), and you march in a parade. Event leading up to the day of the parade include parties where the male elites of the community are served by the women and women pay to have the pleasure and honor of washing the windows of the police station and the mayors house for the big day.

This banner which states, "Women should be submissive to their husbands as they are to God." Col 3:18. Perfect for the day that is supposed to be celebrating women's empowerment.