Thursday, September 8, 2011

I'm on a roll, eh?

Well I have finally arrived back in Lolodorf, safe and sound, after more than a month of traveling and spending time with some of my favorite people in the world! Also I figure since my leave date is so soon, I might as well finish strong even if I did kinda fall off the face of the blog world for about a year. O and for those of you who don’t know, I’m flying home on November 1!
So my adventure began shortly after I last wrote; my friend Kim O came to visit and we had a great time just lazing around Lolodorf for a couple of days. Then we traveled up to Yaounde together and split ways so that I could go visit my host family and she went ahead to see our friend Stefanie. My host family is so great! I lucked out in that area and it’s still so nice to see them on a regular basis. I hung out with them all afternoon, ate dinner, and spent the night. They then escorted me off to the bus station so I could head out to Fundong to meet up with Kim and Stef. After a long day of travel, I arrived to Mexican dinner bliss, chocolate chip cookies, and two of my favorite girls!! We had an amazing 3 days in Fundong: eating good food, watching movies, pampering ourselves, and doing a little work. I attended a meeting led by Stef and Kim about an upcoming Family Planning Seminar that Stef’s NGO is putting on. It was great to see them at work and contribute here and there! We then whisked ourselves off to a little nook in the Northwest with a small bed and breakfast. We got a tour of this pottery making place where we saw how they make the clay then throw it and finally bake them. We were then escorted to their shop where of course we had to buy some goodies! The stuff was just too beautiful and too cheap to let get away!
After a yummy Cameroonian dinner, tea by the fireplace, a great night’s sleep, and a refreshing run, we were ready to head off to Yaounde. We arrived and headed over to the Hotel Franco for our COS conference (Close of Service). “Can you believe we’re leaving already?” was a common phrase throughout the week together. We had a great time eating good food, staying at a nice hotel, and generally reveling in each others company for the last time as a cohesive group here in Cameroon.
Sadly we had to come back down from our COS high to get back to the other side of town. We had Steering committee meetings which we didn’t really mind as it was another excuse for us to spend a few more days together! Our weekend came to an end and some of us stuck around for TDW (Training Design Workshop) and TOT (Training of Trainers) which is about a week and a half of sessions/group work to get the schedule etc. ready for the new trainees who will be here in a couple of weeks. We worked hard but got everything done. I don’t think there have ever been so many holidays during a 10 day period though, as we had to stop work one day, though some people took two, to celebrate Ramadan and then we also had issues with Labor Day since normally PC administration would not work. However, through all of the holidays and changes in the schedule we got through and I think organized a good looking schedule for the newbies! I’m quite excited as I’ll get to teach a number of lessons during their training including Water Sanitation and Diarrheal Diseases, Behavior Change Communication, HIV/AIDS and STIs, and Malaria. It is and will be a lot of work but I’m excited to get to be a part of this experience for them.
In other news, I’m applying to schools already. I have started my applications to Vanderbilt, UT (that is Tennessee for anyone who is wondering, Appalachian State, and Western Carolina. I’m going for Speech Language Pathology and I’m stoked about it! I’m still trying to get recommendation stuff together and my personal statement perfected but I think I’m well on my way.
I’d like to add one final note to any of my stagemates who might be reading this: I love you! Thank you so much for playing a huge role in making these last two years, two of the best in my life! You are an amazing person and I am blessed to know you! Please don’t be a stranger because I won’t be! I hope to see you again before I leave but if not, I want a reunion stateside so let’s make that happen!
And to all my folks in the states: I will be home soon! I can’t wait to see you! Please get in contact with me so I can see your face! I love you also and the countdown has begun!!!!
I love you all! Have a great night!
<3 Amanda

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

11 months later...

Well it has been approximately 11 months since I posted on my blog and I sincerely apologize. Haha. Things have been busy and some of the most emotionally taxing times in my entire life but also the most self discovery and growing towards God that I’ve ever experienced. I will now try to recap some of what I’ve been up to in the last long while.

So October and November of last year were a number of seminars including a medicinal plant seminar in Lolodorf and a soy seminar in Ebolowa. They were both super great successes! I also got to go out to Mvangan to teach little elementary children about very basic sex education things, don’t worry we mostly talked about the family structure and things like puppies cannot come from people etc. We had a great time and I really enjoyed exploring more of this beautiful country, though the ride was completely comfortable. ;) November was mostly just upkeep on already running projects and getting ready for my trip back home to the US!

I had a wonderful whirlwind trip back to the US for a month in which I got to see most of my friends and family, travel around NC and TN, see snow again, and get to go on a cruise! I had a great time however I had a bit of trouble in realizing that I have no stable place in the world anymore. My trip home was wonderful but also very trying as I realized that everyone had continued to move on with their lives and that though the things I’m doing are interesting and different, people have a short attention span. I came to the realization on returning to Cameroon that I had no concrete place in the world: everyone in the US had their own lives going on without me, and Cameroon is really only my temporary home. It was a very hard pill to swallow and made living hard as I felt that I was not really at home or at peace anywhere.

I came back to Cameroon just in time for Mid-Service, which is basically lots of medical exams to make sure we have nothing like TB developing unbeknownst to us. I then got to go on a wonderful week long trip to the North region of Cameroon with 4 of my best friends here in country! We had a FABULOUS time and I needed their support and love and adventure seeking spirits more than I could have known! We hiked mountains, explored new cities, visited fellow volunteers, ate new and different foods and LOTS of beef! We celebrated birthdays with a My Little Pony party and had a genuinely amazing trip that we were not ready to see end!

I then returned in Lolodorf to see what of my projects were still going strong after my almost 2 month absence. To my surprise most things were still working and at least somewhat successful. I also got to host 3 volutneers who had been evacuated from Niger after some issues there. We had a great 3-4 days together as they got a bit accustomed to their new country. However, I started developing some problems with a filling that had been done during mid-service right about that time. After about a month of dealing with it and taking about a trip a week up to the capital, the medical officers decided to medically evacuate me to Morocco (by the way this is around the beginning/middle of March in our timeline).

Another aside, I have purposefully omitted someone from this review of my life and that is my at the time boyfriend and fellow PC volunteer, Greg. We started dating in July of 2010 and had a fabulous relationship. He was there with me through most of my experiences, to hold me up in the hard times and laugh alongside me in the great times. He has since returned to the states and it is at this point in the story that he decided that we should break off our relationship. The stress and slight depression that I was feeling was not exactly lifted by this decision but I know that it is exactly what was supposed to happen, despite the pain and tears that it has and still sometimes does cause me.

So I was sent to Morocco where I was very well taken care of and got to eat AWESOME food! However, the dentist didn’t seem to think that I needed a root canal so they decided to remove the filling I already had and replace it with a new one with a bit of medication in it. He also found that my original cavity hadn’t been all the way removed. So I got 2 weeks in Morocco for them to decide that I actually didn’t even need a root canal. But I did meet some wonderful other PCVs and found that Morocco very well may be the most friendly country in the world, at least the most friendly of the ones I’ve been to! The PCVs there were so welcoming and took care of me and showed me around as if I were already one of their own. I even got to go to Yanyi’s village and visit Fez during a long weekend! We had a fabulous time and Yanyi was such a life saver as she helped me through the shock and pain of a breakup from another country.

So after my two week ‘vacation’ I went back to Cameroon and I was actually quite ready! I missed Lolodorf terribly and was so ready to be back in my house and near my village friends. I even got to come back to a visit from another PCV, KK, who is absolutely terrific! I think I started to realize at this point in my life how incredibly blessed I am to have friends and family who are there for me no matter what happens or what distance separates us! They were kind and supportive and the most amazing listeners with advice when needed or sometimes just a warm shoulder. So THANK YOU! All of you!

Anyway, I got to hang out in Lolodorf for about 2 weeks, and then…dun dun dun…my tooth started bothering me again. So I headed back to Yaounde to get it looked at. I saw the dentist who said that it was infected again and that I needed to start antibiotics again. I then went back to Lolodorf for another couple of weeks and dealt with the pain which wasn’t unbearable; rather it was more like a constant headache on the left side of my face. So I went back to Yaounde for Health Steering and had another check-up with the medical officers and we decided I’d just wait and get it looked at when I got back home at the end of the year since the pain was bearable. Then about 5 days later they called and told me I was going back to Morocco for a second time. This was a much shorter trip of only about 4 or 5 days in which it was decided that the tooth was not causing the pain and my sinuses etc. checked out. So they said, ‘ well we don’t know, I guess we’ll just send you home.’

I finally arrived in Lolodorf around the beginning of May. I had a nice couple of weeks of work and leisure in village before Lauren came to visit to do a soy formation! We had a blast and then headed up to Yaounde for my second trip up to the North of Cameroon; however this time I was going up to see my best friend in village, Halima, get married!

Adventure up North: Lauren and I decided to take the train and since we were both a bit short on money we decided to take second class… It was an adventure! We decided it was best likened to waiting for a bus to leave the agence…you sit on a plastic chair for 15 hours, overnight, with the lights on and people walking through selling things constantly. We were uncomfortable but we saw some of the oddest and most hilarious things we’ve seen in Cameroon…or maybe we were just that slap happy… So we arrived in Ngaoundere and took a bus immediately up to Maroua in the Extreme North. We arrived and hung out for a couple of days in Maroua and did sight seeing stuff, hiked Mt. Maroua and went to the artisanal market. We then headed out to Yagua, Halima’s village! The marriage ceremony was not at all what we were expecting: it was the giving of the dowry to the family and lots of eating and dancing afterwards! We had a great time and it was exciting to explore a corner of Cameroon we otherwise would probably never have seen. We then set off for Garoua to hang out with Lea, then Ngong to see Harley and Paul, and then Lagdos to visit with Mark. We then headed down to Ngaoundere to explore and catch the train back home.

I think the next exciting thing to happen was the end of June brought Barret, the new Education volunteer down to Lolodorf for his site visit! We had a great time and we’re pretty excited that in a couple of weeks we will be the grand number of 3 in the Lolodorf area!

So now you’re a bit caught up…I can talk in a bit more detail about the last couple of weeks of my life! So I spent a bit of time getting to explore parts of the South region on PC’s dollar since admin is too busy to do all of the site prospections (just visiting, talking with the community about what PC is and finding housing for a volunteer). So I went to Ambam which is pretty much a town about an hour from the Equatorial Guinea border and also pretty close to that of Gabon. The next day took me to a very small village, Biwong-Bulu which is about 45 minutes down a crappy road by moto. However, the people there are so excited to have a volunteer! They were so kind and welcoming and almost wouldn’t let me leave! Haha! Then I headed back to my neck of the woods for a couple of days before heading to Eseka, a village an hour towards Yaounde on our paved road (it was so comfortable in comparison ;) ). So even though my health post will be closed after me, there will hopefully be a few more in this general vicinity!

This past week we held our second follow-up Medicinal Plant seminar here in Lolodorf. We made the participants from the last seminar explain all the lessons that we had covered and asked them to prepare all the medicines that we had done the previous time. We also added around 50 new plants to our garden! Yay! All of the oldies did very well with the revision and we even had a ton of new people! More new people showed up each day, up until the very last minute! So, we have decided we’ll hold another mini-seminar to learn some new material and to give these new folks who want to learn, the opportunity to be with us and see what the group is all about. So, yay for a successful seminar and the last big thing that I have before I come back home!!!!

So on another note, I arrived here and was thinking I was going to go back to become a PA (physician’s assistant) but throughout my time here that plan changed and I was leaning more towards physical therapy. However, as God did with Peace Corps, he threw out little hints and people would say well have you thought about… This time it was speech therapy which I have always said is in the back of my mind but I’d never actually taken the time to look into it. So finally, my Dad asked my last week, “Well Amanda, what do you think about speech therapy? Have you looked into it at all?” Have you this is the 6th or 7th person in the last few months who has posed this question. But I said, “No, I think I wanna do physical therapy.” And then that night I laid awake thinking about it…haha. So the next day I looked into and instantly fell in love. I can start applying this month to start next fall rather than having to wait a year and a half and take 2 full semesters of pre-requisites. The program also allows me to work with children and children/adults with disabilities at that. As well as people who have had serious brain trauma and any number of other issues such as strokes etc. So needless to say I’m thrilled! I feel like this is a great fit…at least for the moment! ;)

And in other news, I have just about 3 months left here…I can’t believe how quickly it’s FLOWN by! I’ll know my exact date in 3 weeks! I’ve already started getting nostalgic. This is going to be 3 of the most bittersweet months of my life, I think. It’s hard to imagine that I’ll be leaving these people that have been my life and support for the last 2 years. They have become my family and knowing that at least it will be years before I’ll see their faces again breaks my heart. Please pray for me as I try to smile through the tears as I know I have fabulous memories and that I can always pick up the phone and call over here regardless of the miles.

I have finally come to the end of the longest blog post in history! Haha! I hope that you’re all doing well?! I’d love to hear from you and I can’t wait to see you again…VERY SOON! I love you all! Thank you for everything that you are and all your love and prayers through this long and hard but amazing adventure that I’m still going through! I’ll try to write at least one more time before I head back stateside!

<3 Amanda

Monday, September 6, 2010

It's Been A While...

Well much has happened since I last wrote! For example, my camp! It went well: the kids had a blast and I think maybe learned a little too! We played lots of soccer and Frisbee and they learned about everything from Puberty to HIV/AIDS to how to plan their future and avoid things that might make that future impossible. We did voluntary HIV/AIDS testing, risky I know, but luckily had all negative results! YAY!!! It’s been about a month and a half since camp has finished and the kids are still talking about it!! They want me to organize a 3 month long camp next year, etc. haha! So overall I’d say the camp in and of itself was quite a success! However, I found out that someone I work with was taking money behind my back which was quite disappointing and a little hard to swallow after all the work that I had put into making the camp a success. But that is the way things are here in Cameroon. Corruption is this country’s downfall and the main thing holding them back from developing. It is quite sad but the reality.
After my camp I took a week and went up to the Adamaoua region to help another volunteer with a camp…yes I know, what was I thinking? Haha But really it was the best thing I could have done, considering how things ended after my camp. It was a great chance to see a couple other volunteers, visit a new region, and get to just have fun with a camp rather than be overwhelmed with logistics. We had a fabulous time in a little village called Ribao. We had 20 kids and they were super shy to start with, but as usually happens they warmed up to us as the week went on. It was so rewarding to watch them come out of their shells and watch as they got super excited about learning about health topics and singing some silly songs I’ve written since being here. We had a blast and their village was soooo beautiful!!! It was exactly the break that I needed after so much planning and then carrying out with all the pressure on me!!
Since then I have been doing a little of this and a little of that but mostly trying to get my body healthy again. I started with a sinus infection right after the camp in the Adamou (I can’t handle ‘cold’ weather anymore I guess) and then a kidney infection followed by malaria which I just finished the meds for yesterday. So needless to say it’s been a nice time of resting and reading and going to visit friends to hang out. But I am doing much better now and no need to worry…malaria really wasn’t too bad!
O and I almost forgot! My postmate, Peter got here about 2 weeks ago! He will be teaching computers at the high school! Their school year ‘starts’ today, which means a couple people might be there by the end of the week but classes will most likely start next week. He is super nice and seems quite excited about the work he’s going to be doing. We have also talked about a number of collaborations we are going to try to do! I’ll keep you updated on those as they happen!!
Also I have gotten some requests for things that I’d like in packages so here is a short list of things that might make it seem less like Africa! Hehe! O and a little tip if you do send a package, the flat rate boxes are the best deal!! Don’t spend 100 bucks on a package…that’s crazy!!! Anyway here ya go:
Magazines (Nice to know what’s going on over there)
Instant grits (a big bag or individual servings are good)
Parmesan cheese!!! (most missed item by Peace Corps Cameroon Volunteers)
Candles (Yeah…power…not so regular here)
Seasonal Teas (I LOVE Christmas teas!)
Candy/Chocolate of any kind! Hehe
Toys or games for young kids (I work with a group of orphans and also have kids at my house all the time)
DVDs and/or Cds (again we’re kinda disconnected out here)
Instant hummus powder (not sure how easy this is to find but there is another volunteer who had someone send her some so…)
Crystal Lite packets (I love water but sometimes it’s nice to pretend it’s something else)
Any kind of UNC paraphernalia!!
Canned chicken!!! (Yeah I know it sounds disgusting but when you eat fish 2 times a day everyday…)
Really any little pasta packets that can be quickly and easily made (PastaSides, Ramen, etc.)

Ok well that’s just a little list, and please don’t feel obligated to send me anything! I live quite well here so absolutely not necessary!! Anyway I hope that everyone is well! I miss you all terribly!! Can you believe on the 18th I will have been here in Cameroon for an entire year?!?!? 15 months left!! Anyway I hope that everything is well for all of you! I miss you and I will try to write more frequently now that I have internet at my house again! YAY!! Have a great day!! Love you!!
<3 Amanda

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Let the games begin...

Hello Everyone!
I hope things are going well?! I hope you're all keeping up with the World we play tonight! Not something I ever followed before being here in HUGE here! Sadly our team did not play well at was kinda embarrassing. But c'est la vie! hehe! In other sports news...I'm organizing a camp right now with three other people in my community. It is going to be a weeklong overnight camp with about 100 kids...I know...I'm insane. But I think it's going to be a blast! The kids are super excited about it and people from the community are so willing to join in and help out!! We've had mattresses and labor and supplies donated right and left which is super exciting and sustainable! :) So that is pretty much my life right now. I'm working like crazy to get things together for this and doing lots of praying that it will go off without a hitch.
Also I'm awaiting my new postmate, an IT education volunteer, who will be coming to Lolodorf for a weeklong visit this Tuesday!! Not sure how I feel about it's exciting and will be nice to have another American know speak a little English from time to time, but at the same time the dynamic at post is going to change significantly. I have kind of gotten used to being the only blanche for miles around. But we shall see...I'm sure it will all work out wonderfully...and Peace Corps really teaches you a lot about being about to deal with and work through changes. So I will keep you posted on how that goes!
Well friends...I need to get some more work done as my time here in Yaounde = time with internet/computer is quite limited. I hope you are all doing well and thank you so much to everyone who has written letters/sent packages's so wonderful to know that you guys are over there supporting me and taking the time to think about me!! Know that I love you all so very much and I think about you all the time!! I miss you and I will try to write again soon!!
<3 Amanda

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Not very good at this game...

Hi Everyone!!
So sorry it has been forever since I've gotten on here! Things have been quite crazy and it doesn't help that I don't have internet at my post. I also don't have a computer for the moment since my harddrive!! But it's ok! I come to Yaounde pretty regularly so it'll suffice for right now! I hope everything your way is going well! I miss you all terribly and think of you often!!
Just a quick note about what I'm up to...been in Yaounde for about a week getting funding for my camp. I dropped off letters and will go back by in about 2 weeks to see what these companies have to donate! People were very nice overall and seemed quite excited to help out! I am also anxiously awaiting an education postmate! Yes I will no longer be the only white person in Lolodorf...hehe! Anyway I love you all...heading out and ready to get in line to be crammed on a bus for the journey back to my village! Please take care and be in touch!! Thank you so much for all the packages and letters! You guys are wonderful and I'm trying to keep up with responses! Know they're coming soon!! Love!!!
<3 Amanda

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's Been A While...

Hello Everyone!
So sorry that I haven't blogged in a while...I've been quite busy and without internet for the most part. My internet quit working at home as some of you I really can only use it when I'm here in Yaounde. Which is kinda sad but in reality I haven't had much time to anything other than work while I'm in Lolo! I've been super busy doing lots of animations and lessons.
Well I'm working with most of the same groups, but I just started teaching lessons once a week in a neighboring village (Bikoka) on health and english at a school for kids who live too far to go to the normal high schools or technical schools. The school teaches things like sewing, cleaning, cooking, farming etc. I'll also be starting two girls clubs (one at the elementary school and one at the high school but with girls 10-13 yrs. for each group). I'm pretty excited but kind of scared! It'll be a lot of work and large groups of girls can be kind of intimidating! But I'll give you an update after a few meetings! hehe! I'm also doing some survey with pregnant women who are doing prenatal consultations and another at the library at the high school to find out what kind of books the kids are interested in so that we can get some new books for next year/start a book club hopefully!
That is about all for new work stuff! But I have a pretty exciting story from last week: So I woke up last Thursday morning and walked in my kitchen to find my countertops crawling with big black biting ants...who proceeded to crawl all over me and take little bites! So I quickly exited and found my neighbor/landlord who instructed me to throw salt around which I guess in big black biting ant language means "Go away" because within an hour or two they had all cleared out! It was kind of traumatic in general but even more so since I just finished "Poisonwood Bible" which is a book about a family who decides to become missionaries in the Congo (now Zaire). There is a scene in the book where the family is forced out of their village along with everyone else by these big black biting ants...yeah I was a little worried when I saw that had taken over my kitchen overnight! haha! But no worries...they are all gone...or at least they were when I left on Monday...
Anyway...I love you all dearly and I hope that you are all doing well! I miss you terribly and love you tons!! Take care and I'll try to be less of a stranger! Love you!!
<3 Amanda

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010!

I hope everyone is enjoying the first day of the New Year! I had planned to go to Ebolowa yesterday to pass the Eve of New Year's with 2 other new volunteers, however Yaounde is CRAZY during the holidays. Paul (another new volunteer) and I decided to just stay here and hang out with the other volunteers who are at the case. We had a good time sitting around and playing a little basketball...watching Cameroon's version of fireworks which consisted of one every 10 minutes or so! It's still hard for me to believe that Christmas has come and gone and now it is 2010.
We're all laying around having a lazy day of it here in Yaounde. Not much is open and evidently drunk drivers are an issue all day we are passing the time laying on couches watching American TV shows. It really kinda makes you feel like you're not in's a weird feeling. So not too much going on...I head back to post tomorrow which I'm quite excited about! I got text messages and phone calls...not just beeps from some of my friends in village! It was super exciting to feel so loved! By the way...calls here are very expensive so normally people just call and hang up to say hi (it's called beeping). Ok well just thought I'd send a little howdy-do to everyone over in the States! I am still here and loving it! Excited to start doing some surveys and planning and preparation stuff for projects! I love and miss you all!! As I've said house is always open if anyone wants to come visit...hehe! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
<3 Amanda