A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: amphstravel

Maddy's Experience

Below is Maddy's note to the home-bound AMPHS-ers about how Cameroon has changed her

Hey guys,

Here is a little update about the trip.

This trip has been the most incredible experience. We have gotten to meet so many incredible people and travel to so many interesting places. I think it is been eye-opening for all of us to see how others live. None of us will ever take things like beds, food, electricity, or running water for granted again.

We travel to villages most days where we collect information related to the community's health problems. The work we're doing is meaningful but exhausting because it is just so sad. Yesterday, I met a pregnant 11-year-old and a woman with 7 toes on each foot. In one village all of the men were traveling to the cities, cheating on their wives, getting chlamydia and then bringing it back to their wives in the villages. It's horrible...but it makes me feel good to know we can help them and maybe improve their quality of life even just a little bit.

I've been getting to speak a ton of French, which has been exciting, and I am finally putting that public health education to use. We have faced quite a few hurtles while here, such as breaking ties with Sylvestre and dealing with blatent sexism, expensive transportation, scheduling difficulties, among other problems, but as a group we have been able to overcome them and it has forced us to become closer than ever.

We're still having a great time, but I think people are definitely starting to miss first-world comforts. The tile floor we sleep on does not make the most comfortable bed. And as fun as bucket showers were in the beginning, I know I personally would kill for a real shower.

Today, Kelly, Lindsay, and I learned how to make soap from a missionary so that we can teach the villagers and they in turn can sell the soap at the market to support themselves. But the thing that I am most excited about right now is a surgery scheduled for next week. We met this little girl in one of the villages last week who had a very serious hernia from birth. She was a little more than a year old and was suffering from constant pain and intestinal problems. The doctor told us that the problems would only continue in the future, leading to expensive medical bills, constant health problems, and potential social exile. After meeting her, I cried on the bus home because I was so moved. This is a condition that can be easily fixed with surgery, but her family just couldn't afford it. I decided then and there I needed to pay for the surgery. What seemed like an unimaginable sum to this family is really nothing in our world. We scheduled the surgery at the hospital in Ngoumou and next week this little girl will get the treatment she deserves.

It's things like that that make it worth being here, seeing the good that you can bring to someone's life...We wish you were here and cannot wait to get back and tell you every detail! enjoy the rest of June! xoxo Maddy

Posted by amphstravel 04:46 Archived in Cameroon Comments (0)

Lindsay's Last Message from Cameroon

Lindsay arrived State-side this weekend, and left us with some parting words shortly before she left.

Hello!

Update:

Yesterday we went to conduct interviews at Ribang and Kikii (about 1.5 hours from Yaounde). We got a bit mixed up on our meeting times and showed up a little over 3 hours early for the meetings. We had to pay the bus driver even MORE money and had him drive us to Bafia (the nearest big town). Bafia was like the Sturgis of Cameroon - filled with feisty, grabby, rude, crude Cameroonians on hogback (motorcycles). Kelly fell,scraped up her leg, and rolled her ankle. The hot sun wore us out. We ate olives and canned veggies on bread for lunch at a bar. After lunch, still dying of heat, we returned to Ribang to conduct the interviews, which went fairly successfully. We were given gifts by the village chief, two of which were illegal for us to bring back to the USA: tusk from a hippo and a wild boar's horn. Sylvestre had told the village that we were building them a hospital. What a tangled web we have to unravel . Ugh. A woman had 7 toes on each foot in this village!!!

Today is a free day. Maddy, Kelly, and I learned how to make soap from a Cameroonian missionary while the other 3 shopped for groceries. Every single village said that they want to know how to produce their own soap. it's a fairly simple process that really only requires two things: palm kernel oil and caustic soda (binding agent). Shouldn't be difficult to replicate or teach in the future!

Tomorrow is Akongo (village close to Yaounde) for another round of interviews (we've been doing split group interviews, men and women separately).
Kelly and I fly out on Sunday morning at 455am and COULD NOT BE HAPPIER TO GO BACK TO FIRST WORLD LIVING.

Everyone is exhausted...getting less rest than the days before and have aching backs from the tile floor.

Love,
L

Posted by amphstravel 04:43 Archived in Cameroon Comments (0)

Alex's Photos

Along with Kelly, Alex has also been taking some excellent photos to document AMPHS's journey through Cameroon. Some highlights from his photo album on Facebook are posted below and there will be more to come!

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Posted by amphstravel 05:06 Comments (0)

Lindsay's Point of View

Lindsay shares her thoughts on the trip through June 14

Two days ago we went to the Zoo with Jean Marie (Cameroonian grandfather). It was really REALLY ghetto and depressing. The poor lions were bags of bones. The monkeys were escaping their shantylike cages. The viper was melancholic. Animals need to roam! Apparently 10,000 gorillas are killed every year for bush meat and in 10 years there will be no more gorillas. At all. Scary facts.

We visited Ngoumou yesterday (this is the village in which Samy works). Went to the Prefect to get Samy's paperwork, then went to the hospital and got the census info + map of the region from the regional chief of the hospital. Afterward, we visited some homes and had a PRM discussion - rather: Sara, Maddy, Neumahn, and Alex had a PRM discussion while Kelly took photographs of children and Lindsay (me) drew the kids...until they took over my sketchbook and began making their own drawings. THIS WAS MY TRIP HIGHLIGHT! I loved chatting with the kids and having them draw for me!!!! We gave out crayons, colored pencils, and coloring books...Hurray!

Playing with the Beanie Babies Kelly lugged from America

Playing with the Beanie Babies Kelly lugged from America

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The day was LONG and tiring, as always, and we were ravenous by the time we got back to the Compound. Samy made us a very Cameroonian bachelor meal of eggs and fried plantains. 3 seconds later, our tummies were still grumbly.

Sara joined in our workout this morning, though! Now all 6 of us are up and at 'em by 730am doing kickboxing cardio, lead by Maddy. Toned bodies, YES. OH! And Samy's sister, Diana, has decided that she would like to join us in our morning routine, as well. How precious.

We have renamed Cameroon; it shall now be known as "The Republic of Waiting," as every single thing that we do here requires at least 2 hours of wait time -- if not more.

Today is an "off" day where Kelly, Maddy, and I have vowed to do nothing but relax...at least until dinner time when we throw ourselves into the outdoor kitchen and cook up a scrumptious, low-budget meal for the gang. :)

Tomorrow is our trip to Esse and we are hoping that there will be a LACK of fanfare and royal treatment (last time we were there we were put up on a stage to "eat" the feast that was prepared for us - i put eat in quotes because we could barely stomach a lot of the food that was given to us...bush meat complete with lower jaw and tongue intact, fish gelatin, fish bones in some green mush...oh god) so that we can focus on research.

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An example of "the fanfare!" from previous trips

To be completely honest, we aren't getting any new information in our return trips to villages, same problems different locations (water, long distance to the hospital, respiratory problems, aches, etc). At least it gives Kelly and I a chance to do our art and the rest of a group has the opportunity to bond more with the people. :)

Just a couple more days until Kelly and I leave for the First World. Very excited for our first showers and night's rest on a BED! (even a couch or carpet would suffice at this point...)

Much Love,

Lindsay

Posted by amphstravel 05:08 Archived in Cameroon Comments (0)

June 14, 2011 Update

Sara tells us about the future of AMPHS post-Charity Networks

Sara: Having broken our partnership with Sylvestre's organization, Charity Networks, due to irresolvable differences, we have some new partnerships underway. Tomorrow, we return to Esse to sign a legally binding partnership agreement with Fondation Genereuse that will implicitly allow us to operate in four villages here. We are also working to get Samy his corporate documents from the Ngoumou prefecture. Once he obtains them, we can sign a partnership agreement with his organization--Second Chance--and then we'll be able to work in Ngoumou as well!

Things are good here. We're getting used to using bleach to sterilize our washing water, showering out of a bucket, and having running water and electricity for only a few surprise hours of each day. We're cooking dinner in Samy's kitchen every night now, except when Diane beats us to the chase; she's an awesome cook. Samy even fried up some plantains and an omelette for us last night after saying a million times that he doesn't know how to cook.

Preparing our food for the evening

Preparing our food for the evening

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Usually, we all eat out of the same pot so we can spend less time doing dishes. The tile floor is not an ideal surface for sleeping, but it's home for now. And it's only temporary.

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It's hard to believe that we only have ten days left.

Posted by amphstravel 04:25 Archived in Cameroon Comments (0)

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