Friday, June 6, 2008

Bonsoir from Cameroon

Hello everyone,

As Melissa posted we made it successfully to the village, although it took about twice as long as it should have due to a flat tire and a late start. We had an unexpected lunch with Olivia's mother (Olivia is our main contact for the project) who whipped up a 3 course meal in about a half hour. We had forgotten that while we are here, we have to follow Cameroonian time, which means that everything takes at least twice as long, and lateness is accepted (patience is a virtue here). Even though the drive is 5 hours, time flies because of the beautiful scenery. Remind us to show you pictures when we return to the States. However, it is difficult to fully enjoy the scenery because your heart breaks every time you slow down to go through a village, and hundreds of adults and children come up to the car and try to sell you food or other goods, just to make 100 CFA (25 cents).

Since our arrival in the village we have been extremely busy. We're pulling about 16 hour days (don't worry moms and dads, we'll be fine, we still manage to have a lot of fun). Dinners are our time to unwind, and we'll just say, if you ever have a chance to meet the storyteller side of Dr. Steve, go for it. Dr. Steve is our entertainment for the trip.

Thursday both the filtration group (Sam, Julie, Taylor) and solar groups (Sarah, Doug, Andrew)travelled to nearby Bafoussam (3rd largest city in the 'roon) to buy materials for part of the day. The filtration group spent most of the day with Nura, the local Peace Corps volunteer who is AMAZING. With Nura, the filtration group walked around Bamendjou to locate wood, cement, sand, and gravel, and to coordinate logistics to the mission (our workspace). The solar group was able to locate the same well repairman we used last June, and he travelled to Bakang to remove the hand pump (which will be replaced with a submersible pump powered by solar panels).

It's amazing how helpful everyone is here. When we met with the director of water and mining in Bafoussam, it took two sentences before he was on the phone tracking down the well repair man. The filtration team asked for plywood to be cut in half to be easy to transport and instead, they cut it to our exact specifications.(saving us lots of time cutting by hand)

As return trip members(Julie and Sam), through working with Nura on this trip(who wasnt here last june) we have been able to be more interactive with the people here, which is a really neat experience. Everyone knows why we are here, as we have had people here on 3 different trips now) and they are so excited for the project to progress.

Moving on to today.... This morning we trecked to the mission, which is on the way to the village, with all of our hand tools(we have a lot) because the vehicle that we normally use decided not to start. (it has already been fixed though! hooray!) We then continued a 45 minute hike to the village to the water committee meeting at the chiefs compound and we truely felt like we were lifting the burden! The water committee meeting, while extremely long, went very well. A local NGO gave a presentation on how to organize a water committee and they helped organize the elections.... there is now a full board for the water committee that was democratically elected, including a woman treasurer! We are meeting with them again on tuesday for water education, more detailed decription of the project, and water committee training. They are extremely happy we are back and they are excited that our website has given a "name" to their village. They report that villagers who have made it to europe(not many) have communicated that Bakang is on the world wide web!!!!!!!

After the meeting we split back into our groups... Solar group clearing a space for the solar racking system and cleaned out the bottom of the bore hole well. The filtration team has completed our first wood mold and we are ready to pour the concrete in the morning. Tomorrow is market day in Bamendjou!!!!! We are excited to experience this and we may even join in a weekly soccer game!

We are storing a lot of our solar panels and equipment in the chiefs home in Bakang, as it is easier not to transport them everyday. When Dr. Steve dropped them off yesterday he apologized to the chief, for not letting him know ahead of time. And the response from the chief was astounding... he said not to worry, that we(EWB UD) have sacrificed so much for Bakang. Which is astounding to us, because we all feel that no matter how much time we spend on this project, we always seem to get so much more back.

We are excited for the next few days, as the project is really coming together. We will try hard to post again soon, but we are very busy.

As always we love and miss everyone back home!

Important note... this trip would not be possible without all of our dedicated design team members and the University of DE community!!!!!

I-Team (Dream Team)


boyfriend sagett said...

Sounds like everything is going as planned or maybe even better! I knew it would all work out. Keep having fun guys.

Jacque said...

Glad to hear you have had such a productive start...keep up the good work. Love ya juls!

mother sagett said...

So good to hear from you! Really enjoyed the detail of your adventures so far. Looking forward to hearing some of the Dr. Steve stories and to the pictures. Pleased you have received so much support. Wishing you continued success. Stay safe! Love you!!!

mother sagett said...

So good to hear from you! Really enjoyed the detail of your adventures so far. Looking forward to hearing some of the Dr. Steve stories and to the pictures. Pleased you have received so much support. Wishing you continued success. Stay safe! Love you!!!

GCBezerra said...

Sounds like everything is coming together. I am looking forward to photos when you return.