|So I have had another really good week in Bamenda. Last week I spent mostly on the phone trying to arrange further workshops before I leave, trying to get the councils to contribute some monies to them so they are not completely dependent on VSO for the work. I was partly successful getting two of them to contribute, reason to go to out for a lunch to celebrate at the 'junction'. I work at mile 1, so far I have heard of miles up to 10. Roads do not have names or signs nor are there any road signs with directions on (in fact there are no traffic signs at all or traffic lights, I have only seen one set since being in Cameroon). Therefore places are known as how far they are from...what.... I am not sure – maybe Bamenda city centre?, like mile 1, 2 etc or by specific landmarks, like the Baptist Centre where I am staying is at 'Finance Junction', there is 'City Chemist' round about – where city Chemist is, the Food Market, Hospital Junction, T junction etc. So back to celebrating lunch, I was going to describe 'Up Station', Mile 1 Junction, next to where I work, to you. There are a few places that a few bits and bobs of food, tomatoes, avocados, then a few little hut like shops with a myriad of goods from sweets to toothpaste to bread all crammed behind chicken wire in a dirty, dusty tiny space. You can also get phone credit from these places which consists of giving someone your mobile phone number, some money, they text you then you have credit – or so the French message tells me. Going out to celebrate for lunch constitutes sharing one big table with other customers and enjoying very tasty chicken or fish in a palm oil sauce.
There was more celebrating to be had at the weekend, celebrating just being in Cameroon really. Myself and another volunteer went out dancing with two colleagues of ours. The evening started with me rushing back from running a Footsteps facilitated session, where I got a Female Councillor to come and talk to the girls and we talked about participation. Hot and sweaty I jumped in the shower, grateful that the dripping tap had been fixed. As I turned the taps off though to my horror one came off in my hand!! with 10 mins to spare before meeting friends I squealed (!) and jumped out of the way of water spurting horizontally out at me - retrieved the help of a young German volunteer who replaced the tap for me but we then found we couldn't turn the shower off at all – at least the water was now running vertically. Of course there was no need to worry about meeting friends, 50 mins later they turned up in a taxi and we went off to Mary's house. (the shower had to be left running – wasn't happy with wasting so much water but nothing could be done). Mary is a wonderful colleague who has been helping me run my workshops and who has become a very good friend. We met her two small children, one of which promptly burst into tears on seeing me! (I'm not used to kids not liking me! But have become used to it – one cried all the way to work in the taxi this morning – white men are scary!). There was quite a lot of organising to be done, Mary's brother had to go to the club before we got there to check everything was OK and I almost didn't get in twice! Once for wearing sandals and once for not letting them take my bag off me, but they lost interest when I walked away both times! We had a wonderful evening drinking, and dancing till 5 in the morning to Cameroonian and other African music. I was woken two hours later by the plumber who came to mend my still running shower!
Having recovered on Tuesday myself Mary and Clotilda ran a workshop with 30 women in Bafut. It was very successful, and I was really pleased that I had been able to help facilitate the female mayor to organise it, get funding for it and give a really inspirational speech in it. It was more challenging for me than the previous workshop as most of it was in Pidgin or translated into Pidgin, which is difficult when you are facilitating as you feed off the reaction of the crowd.
The rest of the week has been taken up with report writing and preparing for the volunteer who is coming to take over from me. I have just over a week left in Bamenda, I will be sad to leave.