Saturday, September 5, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Alive.

Hi everyone!

Sorry it has been awhile since I have last written. Things have been very busy these past few months. At the of May I went to Yaounde for training. We were getting ready for that new stagiares (or trainees) who arrived in June. I stayed in Yaounde for about two weeks preparing sessions and activities for the newbies with other volunteers and admin staff. While a lot of volunteers were together, we planned a Peace Corps prom with the theme of “Post Apocalyptic Winter Wasteland”. Everyone dressed up in costumes using whatever they could find which consisted of trash bags, large belts, dirt, up for grabs clothes, and random accessories acquired in the market. Needless to say, we all looked pretty fantastic. It was a lot of fun and it will have to be repeated next year.

After I finished in Yaounde, I packed my bags and got ready to go on vacation. First I went to Paris to visit my friend Jasmine who was teaching in Lyon. We explored the city and visited the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, an Andy Warhol exhibit and other museums, as well as countless metro lines. It was a lot of fun and I couldn’t get enough of the cheese and flushing toilets. It was strange to be in western culture again and have access to many wonderful amenities like clean sheets and hot water. I stayed in Paris for three days then boarded another plane for Austin.

Being back in Austin again was so wonderful but also a little strange because I was on vacation in the city I grew up in. It was so nice to see family and friends again after a year of being away. I had a relaxing few days in South Padre Island with my family and also traveled around to Houston to hang out with friends. I found it very strange that everyone has jobs in real world now. What’s that about? I miss college days where everyone lived in the same city and we could have late night dance parties and order pizza at 3 in the morning. While I was in Austin we also had fake Thanksgiving. Being in Cameroon, I missed out on all the good food you have at Thanksgiving so I had my family recreate the event for me in June complete with pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes with gravy. It was fabulous and I really don’t know why we don’t eat these delicious foods year round. I think when I move back to the States I’ll have Thanksgiving at least 3 times a year…

After a fun-filled 3 weeks of vacation, I traveled back to Cameroon to start my second year as a Peace Corps volunteer. It might seem strange, but I actually did miss Cameroon while I was living it up in the land of Ben and Jerry’s and reliable electricity. I have lots of projects going on here and a lot of good Cameroonian friends as well as a comfy house with a lazy cat who entertains me. I really have gotten used to living here. So, the rest of the summer went by pretty quickly. I spent a couple of weeks in Bangangte training the new volunteers and teaching in Model School. It was so weird to be back in Bangangte after a year and to be a trainer rather than a trainee. I saw my host family again which was really nice. They didn’t have another volunteer this year and they said it was because they couldn’t replace me (although I think it’s because they have a terrible rodent problem and no other volunteer wanted to live there…). It was good to catch up though and to speak better French than I did while I was living there. After training in Bangangte, I traveled back to Yaounde for Midservice which is when PC has you go through a bunch of medical exams to make sure you don’t have crazy tropical diseases and worms living in your intestines. It went well and I am free of scary illnesses. The rest of July there were smatterings of meetings and random events and it really wasn’t until August that I was able to come back to post and stay for awhile.

So, now I am just in Lewoh working on some secondary projects and waiting for school to start in September. I am working on getting electricity installed in the high school and some surrounding areas. It is slow going, mainly because the roads are so bad right now that it’s hard for people to travel and transport materials. Hopefully in a few weeks I will have the project posted on the Peace Corps website and all of you lovely people who are able to could donate towards a good cause! We are still working on the budget though, so it is not on the website yet. I am also working with Wendy Lee and a few other volunteers to bring libraries to several communities around Cameroon. Books for Africa is donating 22,000 books to Cameroon which is wonderful, but we have to raise the funds to cover the cost of shipping which will not be cheap. If you would like to donate to this project you can go to this website - http://tiny.cc/booksforcameroon . Most people in Cameroon do not read for enjoyment or know how to use books for research, or have even been inside a library, so creating these libraries will create amazing opportunities for a lot of communities. Thank you for your support!

7 comments:

Liz Bogard said...

Hi Connie,
So glad to see you have updated your blog. Starting a library in your village sounds like a fantastic idea! I'll be glad to donate some money towards the shipping cost for the books. I look forward to talking to you on the phone very soon. Lots of Love & Hugs to You, Miss You . . M O M

Liz Bogard said...

Hey Connie,
I just clicked on the website you gave in your blog to donate towards the shipping cost of the books for a library. I donated by credit card and the website was very user friendly and the whole transaction was easy and fast. I received an e-mail confirming my donation immediately afterwards. Cool! You Go Girl!!! You are AWESOME! Love you Connie!

i~RN said...

Good to see you updating. You're doing such good work there. I was sorry Adam and I didn't get to visit with you much while you were home. Be well, Robin.

Jesse said...

Hi Connie
I am Jesse and I used to be a Peace Corps volunteer in Lewoh. I googled and found your blog, and I am happy that you are doing good things in Lewoh. I am in graduate school now and I will be coming back to do fieldwork in Cameroon in February, in the Northwest province. I'd like to stop by Lewoh to greet some of my old friends, and I am hoping you'll be able to tell me who is still around, etc. Whenever you have the chance, write to me at jlovegren AT gmail DOT com

Odyssey said...

I hope you are having an awesome experience. Sometimes people do not know what they have until they meet someone less fortunate. A lot of people in the US do not know how much they have in opportunities and daily amenities.
I am from Cameroon and live in Alabama... kinda like the Fontem of America isn't it? I am very interested in the work you do. And currently volunteer as part of a group to set up a Local library in Guzang village in the North west Province. We may be useful to ach other in carrying out such work

Pascal said...

Great work Connie. I'm from Cameroon, and live in Round Rock in the outskirts of Austin. Would have loved to meet you while you were here, but hopefully next time. Thanks for making a difference!

Shelli said...

Hi Connie,

I was the first volunteer in Lewoh back in 97-99. I'd love to find out if some of my friends are still there and how things are in the village. Email me at my gmail account: shellijp

Thanks