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I expect this month to be full of change.
* MiFed needs to announce and implement their reconfiguration which will change the face and purpose of SAIMED. It remains to be seen where Bienvenu will end up as well as which staff, if any, will stay and what will come of the contracts with Plan.
* At PC headquarters I have a new program director but the country director is going on long term leave.
* I've committed myself to a new writing project.
* Chantal is due to give birth.
Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â· The rains are expected to come full force.
Change is already here. Magloire starts a new job in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© next Monday. It's a much better job. I'm very happy for him. But I'm losing my close friend and the only person at SAIMED who is honest and open with me.
Today Juliet and Bienvenu signed a contract with the Ministry of Health for a small malaria project. Bienvenu is so unimpressed with the $6k he told Juliet she can manage the money as she pleases.
8pm Aloys called Magloire because MiFed needs info immediately from all 25 caisses. He must've been proud to say he couldn't do it.
The journalist was condemned to 4 months in prison and a fine of 1 million francs. The ministers blocked the process so that he couldn't expose his proof in open court. We'll see if his case is closed already.
I've had some beers at Le Notre with Magloire, BBS Simon with his scruffy voice and villager's pronouncements that everyone imitates and Charles, Juliet's husband, a presidential guard.
The Plan training this morning was a little interesting but slow and drawn out. Fanny, one of the trainers used to be a health trainer for Peace Corps.
I expect to sleep heavily.
Jackson came to look at my refrigerator this morning. He said it's in fact the gas. He got a pousse-pousse to transport it to his shop. He'll return it on Monday.
I took my women's day fabric across the way to the mama who made me a dress with sleeves that didn't work two years ago. She'll make me a caba. She should know how to do that. She approached me a week ago asking for another chance. Since time is short I know Marie Noel and the tailor must be exceptionally busy.
I'll parade with PC staff in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©.
I had an upset stomach last night so I spent the morning in bed. Alene and I accompanied Magloire to InterVoyage. He beeped me when he arrived. I'm curious to hear how his first days go.
I heard from two places that all my co-workers were out drinking today.
I wasn't invited out.
Nobody came to see Magloire off.
I had a cheeseburger and fries for dinner chez Pat. He has two researchers staying with him and a new female Cameroonian doctor on the MSF staff. Interesting collection of people and a nice get away.
Now I'm going to crash.
Magloire called to give me his initial job responsibilities. He'll have a lot of work but appears happy to be in a more serious environment.
Chantel came by to tell me she gave birth to a baby girl on Friday night. She'll take this month off work.
The Plan training was more interesting today but the trainers are unimpressed with the participants from SAIMED and they intend to mention that in their report. I haven't even seen Bienvenu in 10 days!
I'll need to contact him eventually this week to prep him for the visit of inspectors from PC Washington.
I arrived in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© late in the day. Magloire came to meet me in Nkoldongo near inter-voyage. We had a lot of news to share. He told me about his first week at his new job. He's the director of a center in Mfou that has 4 or 5 different activities. Roger came to pick me up. We met JC in Essos to watch the Barcelona football game. It rained really hard which cooled everything off a great deal. After we went out to another bar and I zoned out exhausted knowing that I need to get up extra early.
I was cursing Roger this morning for my headache but I got to the Peace Corps office, showered, ironed my new caba and was dressed by 7:30. I went with the female staff to the embassy for a group photo. We were shuttled to the parade. We had seats in the stands. Some embassy staff caused an embarrassing fuss over our seats. We were led up the road to enter the parade, then back to our seats to watch. The ambassador's wife had us over for a reception. She's a very dynamic, open woman.
Met up with Christian and Roger.
It was a very long day. I returned from YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© around 2pm and I got out of the van at MVE to join the training. I went directly out to Akolo to visit the community kitchen recently organized to feed malnourished children and educate their mothers. Most of the children were afraid of me. Then we made the rounds to pick up the teams from the other villages. At the control after the bridge we found an extension worker from Plan who'd been stopped. It was a big scene. The sous-prefect even arrived. 9:30 pm and I've just gotten home.
It was the last day of the Plan training and the 4th day that the community kitchens cooking for the malnourished children.
An inspector visited from PC Washington. We had lunch in town and then sat on the second floor chez Peter. She had a series of questions and seemed pleased to have my input. They drove me back to MVE for the closing ceremony of the training.
I had dinner with Pat who is rather exhausted.
Magloire arrived in the evening and we went to Le Notre to catch up on SAIMED gossip and details of his new job.
I sat down to work with Magloire at Pat's house because Medicine Sans Frontier has a generator. We had a productive work session. He listed the activities and business units he's responsible for with names of their managers. Then we listed what information and reports he needs from each, some of the meetings he needs to hold. We outlined his schedule for the next three weeks, elaborated his job description and began listing files he needs to create. It was just enough for me to get a clear picture of what he has ahead and to help him feel organized.
A very popular man in town who works with the church died this evening sitting at the bar. He'd just invited his wife out to celebrate the successful church service. Even more tragic, their 12yr old daughter drowned in the Nyong on February 9th. I can't imagine the grief of his wife. The news passed through the neighborhood like wild fire. Le Notre's son looked up at him and said you can't die on me. Then 4 men, close friends of the man who died wandered in to the restaurant. In total shock, they were trying to digest the news.
I went into the office to greet people and Bienvenu asked me why I stopped giving my training sessions. That lead to an 1.5h discussion. I raised my voice in frustration with him. He told me a parable saying that I should continue to aggressively try to work with them because years from now they may realize it's for their own good. I agreed to come on Mondays to give class but asked to be liberated from SAIMED. Hours later I returned with a parable of my own to illustrate how his negligence of daily operations is killing his business.
I went out with the people from MSF today. We stopped at a handful of village schools and set up meetings to come back and talk about Buruli ulcers. We intentionally set some of the meetings in villages where Plan recently set up community kitchens. I'm helping MSF and in the process getting transport to check up on other work. It's great to get back out into the rural communities. I then waited in MVE for the mamas and their babies to show up and I helped them cook. We have an appointment in Bondi in the morning. Full moon.
I went with the team from MSF to the school in Bondi to talk about Buruli Ulcers. They showed a short film, explained the phases of the disease and detailed the treatment available at the hospital. Two current patients told their stories. One gave me chills. He's suffered 5 years of traditional healers not allowed to eat meat or fish or shake anyone's hand. He couldn't walk. Maggots invested his wound and he was told his uncle sent them.
Afterwards they offered to clean and dress any existing Buruli Ulcer wounds. More than 25 children lined up for fresh bandages.
I've been on the move so much recently that I haven't even washed my floors since Chantal had her baby and went on maternity leave. I like working au village with new bunches of people but it's exhausting when I have to explain my role and ward off continuous advances. After the meeting in Mebang on Buruli ulcers we visited 3 "foyer"in Wouma. The community kitchens are functioning well. The "mama lumier"answered questions from the staff of MSF (Doctors Without Borders) and I linked different community resources. Lethargic toddlers are gaining energy and mothers are learning basic nutrition.
I spent most of the day at home. I thoroughly cleaned the kitchen, changed my propane tank, went to market. I saw Carole in the market. She'd sent me a letter a week ago apologizing. She'd borrowed 50,000CFA from me and then disappeared. It ends up she was mugged in a taxi in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© when she was with her baby. The bandits stole 900,000CFA and gave her baby water to drink that contained tiny pieces of razor blades. She spent six weeks in the hospital with the baby. I'm still not convinced that she ever intended on paying me back.
I cleaned all the floors and dusted my whole house. Then I went to market to buy a kilo of meat where I ran into Solange. Sylvie and James (the new APCD) arrived soon after. Juliet, Carine and Ziegel were sent to welcome them since Bienvenu hadn't yet returned from Yde/Esse. Sylvie went to Juliet's house to interview her on the effectiveness of the SED program. James stayed and talked to me. Bienvenu returned as they were preparing to leave. So Sylvie interviewed him in the office while we went to Le Notre for lunch. It was a good visit.
Roger arrived yesterday afternoon after the PC visit and after I'd finished cooking (beef stew, sautÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©ed peppers and onions, black rice, salad). It's been incredibly hot recently 35C/96F in the shade. Hot piercing sun but the temperature drops to the 60'sF at night. Roger & I had a good visit. We watched the Barcelona -Bassa"football game at the Cave. Went to the Club Center then the balafones. We came home and kept talking until 5:30 am. He woke a few hours later and left for YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. I haven't left the house today, shuffling papers, reading Catch 22, cleaning dishes.
I went to the SAIMED office expecting to give a training session but since most of the staff was sent en brousse it was rescheduled for Friday. Juliet and I sat down for a first session of organization training for administrative files and processes. I offered to go to Wouma with Mathieu to weigh babies but it was incredibly hot and negotiating payment of transport became too complicated for a village 4k away an hour after our rendez-vous. So I came home to finish my book and played hours of backgammon on my computer - which somehow depressed and exhausted me.
Bienvenu called early to tell me that there's a Plan staff meeting in Akonolinga starting tomorrow. He wants me to attend with him. It'll throw off my schedule with MSF but may be interesting.
I went with the MSF team to the school in Mekong"14-. I know the director of the school who asked if I could come give some English lessons next trimester. He suggested that we ride bikes out together.
I had some drinks with the 2 new Cameroonian doctors on the MSF staff. Electricity is out tonight so I sat at the boutique and ate grilled fish.
The electricity has just gone out again. The Plan staff meeting is indeed interesting. Bienvenu is still uncomfortable with me, distant. Our relationship has eroded and it's definitely not like it used to be. I could help him with so many little things. He brought me home and then asked if he'd find me in town later. When I said no, I won't go sit in town by myself, he said he plans on inviting out a small group and will call to signal where they are. Odd, indirect invitation. Most of his communication to me these days is elusive.
The second day of the Plan staff meeting is today. SAIMED was invited as a local partner but it really is their internal meeting of regional staff. I'm impressed with the way they work. The new regional director is young, smart, poised. Dressed in a stylish jean & jean jacket set he moves things along without a strong authority complex. He reminded me of co-workers from Hall & Partners. The field staff struggled through 10 minute presentations in PowerPoint. The best presentation was by the internal auditor who tied the finances to the development goals. To the point and inspiring.
I sat only for 20 minutes in the office waiting for people to arrive for my training. Then I got my bag and headed to YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. I talked to two men for the entire trip. I thought I was bothering the rest of the passengers but it ends up they were all entertained. I should have gone to the bank but I lingered at the PC office talking. Eventually I left to find the intersection where they load cars to Mfou. It was a quick trip. Piercing sunshine, hot. On my arrival Magloire sent a moto to pick me up.
It was a long slow cool day. CRATAD is up on a hill so it's extra cool. It's a beautifully landscaped and very peaceful place. After yesterday's heat, the breeze and short rain were very welcome.
The Italians created this development & conference center for agriculture training, animal raising, natural fruit juice production etc... They recently turned the place over to the Archdiocese and Magloire was hired to manage the center. We will put together a work plan for when I come back for a week or two to analyze the current functioning and produce recommendations on restructuring different sectors.
"how do you imagine the future?-
He said he's worried about being a burden in the states.
I generally reassured him that people have offered their support for when I return.
Suddenly we were talking about marriage.
But what surprised me was how many details he'd already considered.
And what surprised me more was that for once he was asking me questions I couldn't answer like where, when, how I want to do this. My superstition has kept me from imagining the details, but I've always imagined my whole family there and I know they can't be here.
I should be heading home to Akonolinga right now but I'll stay in YaoundÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© another night. Wanting and anticipating things is very different from experiencing them. Everything feels so light and distant. Should I share this news with the volunteers here, with my family, with the staff? There's so much more we need to discuss and I'm suppose to wander back home "au village"to Akonolinga alone. I told him this morning that my head is too crowded with thoughts and he gave me a smug smile and said it's good we need to get moving and shake things up.
I'm still in a blur. We hung out with JC last night. The ground hasn't shifted much. I decided I needed to find out the Peace Corps regulations about marriage. I couldn't come back to Akonolinga without giving a heads up to my family so I sent a quick e-mail. Dad and Barbara called reacting to my news. Dad said he wanted to be there. Since they'll already be in the states I wasn't sure that'd be possible. I sat drinking chez Coco with co-workers thinking
Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬ËœMy Dad will come. My family will be represented. Shit! I'm planning my wedding.-
As recent events settle in my mind, I've become more excited and nervous. I wish Roger was here to hold me tonight. Liz called to tell me that the whole family is excited and sends their support. The dry matter of fact way that I announced my news by e-mail shocked everyone a little. The fact that Dad promises to be there has helped me form an idea of what I want in a ceremony. Imagining it gives me the jitters. I stayed home all day. The kids next-door came over to paint with my watercolors for the first time.
I visited people today. The tailor gave me a suit he sewed for me in August in a heavy canvas material. Pauline brained my hair and explained opening her heart to higher powers. The Cameroonian Doctors at MSF fed me. The neighbor children taught me a game. Peter Lee gave me wine and philosophy. Roger called wanting to fix a date by phone around my father's schedule. He's talked to two of his sisters and Tyrone. Djoki visited with several papers for me to study to help him write a report. Just home from wine with Peter, need to crash.
Madam Bodo, had the water turned off because there was another broken pipe in the road between the meter and the house. Water that has been running in the road for weeks will appear on our bill. It's the second time this has happened since October. I may have to live the rest of my time here out of buckets of well water.
(AprilPreview: He calls to say things have advanced abruptly but he wants us to set out with a good start. Ãƒâ€šÃ¢â‚¬ËœI need to prepare a proper proposal.' Now he has me on the edge of my seat.)
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