Friday, September 12, 2008

First Week(ish) at Post

So I’ve been in my new town now for about a week and a half and I don’t even know where to start!

First of all, I’ll say I’m very fortunate because Brooke, my current post mate until December, has been super duper. She introduces me to people, helps me find things I need, and has great dresses that I am going to take to the tailor and have copied! Plus, she made me enchiladas my second night in town when I had no stove and no way to cook for myself. We had a real Peace-Corps moment together when we tried to go for a run up a dirt mountain road the other day. The bridge we needed to cross was washed over. Being ingenuitive as we are, we decided to go dig up a series of large rocks to throw across the water and use as stepping stones. An old OLD wrinkly man, who looked as though he weighed about 80 pounds, and spoke only Fulfulde, decided to help us nassaras in our endeavor! He seemed so frail I thought he’d just break when I handed him the first large stone. Wading in the mini-river up to his calves, he helped us place all the stones. Then he held our hands so we wouldn’t fall as we stepped gingerly across. (Brooke fell anyway :) The crowd gathered by this point thought it was pretty funny.

I started going into work at the Mutuel Communautaire de Croissance, my host institution. (I work at an MCC again?! This one is referred to as the MC2, though!) My first week there I read the procedures manual. Fabulous times. Actually, I’d written the procedures manual at Fonkoze regarding financial reporting, so I like this stuff. Today, I even had my first day of feeling like I’d made a useful contribution! Although deathly boring to the majority of the population, I worked with my counterpart to convert the income statement and balance sheet into an automated excel format. It’s simple stuff, but I feel like if they can get automated systems in place to calculate these things, that can make a lasting contribution towards efficient operations.

My plan is to work at the MC2 in the mornings. During the afternoons I run around and do all kinds of things (secondary projects!) Here is where Brooke is fabulous. She introduces me to movers and shakers in the town. I’ve met one guy whose NGO does such amazing work that the US Ambassador is coming to visit it this month. Sounds like a great partner in the community, and he wants me to help him with his budget. Again, basic basic stuff but necessary! Another woman we met today could play a key role in a project that Brooke and my processor have worked to establish, the creation of a youth rec. center and library. One of the things I like so much about these meetings is that they can take place in a house, an office, or just as easily in a thatched-roof bar, where we’re drinking boxed wine, mixed with coke and getting eaten alive by flies! (Coke + boxed red wine. Who knew?!)

On a non-work level, I met a French girl with the Volunteer Service Organization, or the UK’s answer to the Peace Corps (except they accept people from all over.) Her name is Fleur (How you like that, teamed up with my Fleurange?!) She’s also lovely, and spending time with her is a great cultural in between—I’m not reverting to Americana, but at the same time, we can compare notes on queer Cameroonianisms. Also, a Cameroonian friend of Brooke’s is about the biggest athlete in town, so I’ve been out playing volleyball with him. I should be able to get in a local women’s soccer league as well. Either my Peace Corps boss knew what he was doing when he placed me here, or I got exquisitely lucky that this is one of the most athletic towns in the province!!

That’s the update for now. My love to all!

1 comment:

Melissa said...

Hi Fleurange! I'm so happy that you love your post - sounds perfect for you! Let me know if you need/want anything that I can send you. I miss you guys! How are the other Northerners doing?