Saturday, September 13, 2014

Changes in Garoua Boulai

I am back home!  I arrived in Garoua Boulai Monday evening about 7 p.m. after a full day of travel from Yaoundé.  Willie Langdji came, too, for various meetings.  So, the next few days were full of meetings many of which I also attended.

Four members of the Central African Evangelical Lutheran Church came for meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday to evaluate Humanitarian Aid efforts so far and plan next steps.  We also discussed various other aspects of their work and our partnership.  There were also meetings about the station, ELCA finances (I got to meet the new administrator SANDA Elie), and about the palm oil farm project run by the Bible School here in Garoua Boulai.

Dr. Solofo & Willie

We also visited the Protestant Hospital to see changes and planned changes.  About ½ of the patients are currently refugees from CAR.  For some time MSF (Medecins Sans Frontiere – Doctors Without Borders) have been partnering with the hospital.  They are using, and have greatly extended, the hospital’s nutrition center.  What impressive work they do!  They have about 245 workers in this camp, the local state hospital, and the refugee camp at Gado.  Their main work is treating malnourished children.  If the children have other illnesses as well as malnutrition, they are brought to the CNTI (Nutrition Center) at the hospital.  First their illness is treated and they the focus shifts to the malnutrition.  A family member, often the mother, stays with each child.  MSF is currently treating between 80 and 90 children at the center, receiving about 30 new cases per week and releasing about the same number.  I have always been impressed with the dedication and quality of their work, but I must stay, I am even more impressed seeing it up close.  I can say, too, that the hospital is growing and changing to effectively handle all the additional work.  Thanks to ELCA, MSF, and other emergency aid, many more people are being healed. 

Since Willie left Thursday morning, I have had met with various other people and talked to more on the phone – reestablishing contacts.  Yes! (Fist pump here…)  Today I am meeting two Lutheran World Federation people who are coming from N’gaoundéré and will also visit Bertoua.  They are looking at Cameroon’s needs because of the high number of refugees.  They will visit the hospital and MSF center and meet with the regional bishop of the Cameroonian Evangelical Lutheran Church. I’ll be helping interpret for this meeting.

Unfortunately, I have had limited contact with leadership teams in Baboua.  The telephone network has been down for more than a week.  On two different days I have had a 1-minute conversation with someone before the call dropped with no possibility for reconnecting.  Maybe it will be fixed soon…

I have been able to walk into town on several days, but each time had to cut the time short and hurry home because of the threat of rain – which began to fall as I walked home or just after I got here.  Here are some changes I have noticed in these brief times:  The meat stalls in the market are now tile instead of wood!  A great improvement since the wood took in the blood, juices, etc.; I am sure germs prospered – and it sure stunk!  These tile stalls will be much easier to clean and much less germ-producing.  (I have not yet bought any meat – or much else in the market since food was provided on Tuesday and Wednesday and since then I have eaten some left overs.  Today I have to start cooking again… 

June and Phil Nelson have returned to their home in North Dakota.  I am grateful to have been able to buy a lamp (no light bulb yet – it’s one of the things I haven’t yet gotten from town), iron, and microwave from them.  Yes!  Now I need to figure out how to run the microwave (written in Norwegian or some language I don’t understand). 

I am also having a small table made for it to sit on.  Currently it takes up 1/3 of my limited counter space.  If I were in PA, I would head to the thrift store or maybe a furniture store for a suitable table.  Since those don’t exist here, I’ll have it made!  I am having another smaller table made, too, for the living/dining/office area. 

I have decided that I want to decorate some walls (not yet sure where) with maps of places I visited this summer as well as CAR and Cameroon.  Personalize things a bit and help me remind me of where I work and where supporters are.  Picture at some later date…  Here’s a picture, though, of the hood of the truck closest to the house.  Who can resist using a dirty truck/car as a drawing board?? (Done before my arrival… and I did wash it off…)

I am also rearranging and unpacking and getting reoriented to life and work here.  I can say, for sure, that I am pleased to be back.  The welcome has been very warm.  It is good to be home. 


  1. Glad you're back! Please give our warmest greetings to friends in G.B. - especially Solofo and Joely.

  2. Thank you for the update on the GB hospital and the refugee situation there. My mother Rosemary Jacobsen gave me the link to your blog. My family lived there in the 70 and 80s. My father Dr. Paul Jacobsen was the main doctor at GB hospital. Please greet Dr. Solofo and his wife from me. Please tell Dr. Solofo that he's doing a great job. God bless him. And if you meet Gado (works as a security guard on the station), please send him my warmest greetings. He was my brother Glenn's playmate growing up. I was in GB in March/April 2008 with my husband Tim. It's great that you are still able to help out there. I now live in Gatineau, Quebec across from Ottawa.

  3. Thanks for the comments. It is good to hear from people who know GB.