Sunday, September 18, 2011

3 Months of being an Ex-Pat

I have officially been an “Ex-Pat” (people like to refer to us as this) for over 3 months! I have been in Meiganga for a month now and I have been working at Credit du Sahel for 3 weeks now. It is frustrating now because I am still in the beginning stages of speaking French. But this is the best thing for me. I sit in an office with 2 other employees. Clients come in and out all day. I am greeted by each person, which intern means I get to practice my French all day! Come 2 hours into my day, I am exhausted, but like a said before this is the best thing for me! I have been meeting tons of GIC members, which means work opportunities!

My coworker has lots of great ideas of what I can do and what would be good for Meiganga. I have been introduced to many people in my first week that are doing great and innovative things! Dairy is a thing of the past for me. Powdered milk is my new staple for my calcium intake. I have learned how to make a basic ricotta and yogurt from powdered milk and a mean Alfredo sauce! (Don’t gawk, it is surprisingly fantastic) But my life is about to change dramatically. I met this GIC who makes cheese from, get this, REAL MILK!!! I am anticipating my taste buds to go bonkers.

When talking with people from back home I have been asked a lot of similar questions. The most popular being are you happy? Yes, I am beyond happy! I know that I have not experience the lows that inevitably all Volunteers will face, but right now I am happy. I have great post mates, an amazing Community Host, and a wonderful Host Organization (Credit du Sahel).

Background information: When getting to post you are partnered with a member of the community whose role it is to introduce you to as many people as possible, help you integrate, and be the family that you need in your new home. You are also partnered with a Host Organization. Some are partnered with the Mayor’s office, others NGOs. I am working for a micro financial institution. It provides 3 services, Checking & Savings accounts and loans.

The other common question I am asked is about my safety. Am I safe? Yes I am safe. This questions ties directly to my community host and host organization. Getting to know people is essential to my safety. They will look out for me. The community wants me to be here and they want me to be safe. I live in a gated concession with 3 other families. Someone is always around. And every time I come home I am greeted by one of the neighborhood kids asking for a gift.

I have been handing out letters to important members of the community. (ie. Mayor, Police Chief, Traditional Authority, ect.) I exchanged numbers with each person and each person told me that if I were to need anything I should call. The Head Gendarme in particular seems like an awesome guy. (He worked in Darfur for 14 months with the UN. He is new to Meiganga and to this position.) When we exchanged numbers he told me that he will be checking up on me often. He also said that next week he is going to see my house to make sure it is safe and meet my neighbors. When this happens, my post mates will come and I think I will bake cookies!

My neighbors in Bafia, Cameroon. The little boy standing next to me is named Ferrel. He was my buddy! He would greet me every morning and night by screaming my name and giving me a big running hug.

Crazy picture of the sky!

While having to walk 5km because the roads were so bad, I was snapping some photos and the Cameroonian I was with wanted to take one of me

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