Friday, 11 April 2008

More tales from Cameroon

I am absolutely exhilerated. It could be the singing, the dancing, the food, the Coca Cola, the 95 speeches, the dignatories, the International Nation Builders choir, the representatives of our two partner organisations CDVTA and PTRC (Presbyterian Rural Training Centre), the inspiration of Kirsty and Isabelle and their work with MRDF, the many gifts - all of this at a special event this evening held in our honour and the honour of all those people who make donations to MRDF. What a night!
And what a couple of days. Yesterday I visited many elderly people's clubs and gardens. Had lunch at the Palace of one Fon (Chief) and sat as an honoured guest at the gathering with dignatories including government officials, traditional and religious leaders and hundreds of elderly people at the even bigger palace of another Fon, heard and made speeches and travelled back along the dusty, bumpy roads to the safety of the Baptist Convention centre. Where the electricity was on and the water was also running - what luxury.
Today we have not been so fortunate with the water - although there was some pretty heavy rain this afternoon and it does make you wish you had carried some shower gel! Still today Kirsty and I went out in the field to the Ndop area with PRTC whilst Isabelle stayed in Bamenda to check on the records of CDVTA (well that was her story anyway). First of all we visited the Unity Women's Mixed Farming Group who come together to support each other in their efforts to farm the local land. In the house where they met (which never has water or electricity), I was able to ask them about village life, husbands, children, festivities and wakes whilst Kirsty went to visit the group farm. They had bought this land with a loan from PRTC. It was a very interesting time and the women thought it was very funny that I had a husband called Gari - the name of a foodstuff made from Kesava plants which they sold at the market. Agnes, their chair, features on an MRDF poster part of the 2007 Harvest pack. What fun the women and lots of local children had when Kirsty presented Agnes with a copy of it.
Our second visit was to the Meghanty women's group in Babungo, where we heard again of the differences made to people's lives by the training they had received in crop management and bookkeeping skills. We were leaving here when we bumped into Emmanuel - an honorary member of this women's group who has done a lot of training with PRTC and now has a well stocked farm which includes bees and medicinal plants as well as the usual cabbages and beans etc. Our next visit was to see a lady called Elizabeth in Ndop who we expected to meet on her own. She had been visited by MRDF before and supporters may remember her from their literature. However as we entered the place where Elizabeth lived we found thirty or so Farmers' representatives from the area as well. After singing and prayers and introductory speeches, Kirsty took Elizabeth outside to interview her whilst I ended up chairing a farmers' meeting. What a varied life I lead!
Then back tonight for the festivities. Fantastic. Tonight we have electricity but no water still so am able to send this blog but you can be grateful you are not close enough to pick up our scent. An early start tomorrow as we set off to travel to Douala for our overnight flight home. There is much more to tell but that will have to wait for now. No doubt there will be some stuff in the Methodist Recorder and the MRDF literature and maybe even another Blog entry. Remember us in your prayers as we travel home tired but rejoicing.

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