Monday, July 20, 2015

Bamenda, Part 2

Bamenda is a city in western Cameroon – in the Anglophone part.  This past week, I spent a week there for the Advanced Trauma Healing workshop.  (I had been there last August for the first one – you can look for the blog entry about that…)  It is a town nestled in a valley at a higher elevation so that the weather is cooler (but not cold for me).  I have to admit that I in neither visit did I have a chance to visit much of the town.  The seminar was held at the CABTAL center, the Cameroonian Bible translation center, about four miles from the downtown. We met from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. (with breaks, of course!); then, since I was helping to lead the sessions, I met with the two other presenters for ½ - 1 hour at 5p.m. to review the day and plan for the next one. Not much time for other visiting.  (Remember it gets dark about 6:15 – 6:30 p.m.) We did go for a walk several times so I saw a bit around the CABTAL center…  We also had time for a little Corn Hole; it was the first time many of

the participants had played, but they got pretty good at it.

The seminar went very well.  It is designed for people who attended the first Equipping Seminar and who had already taught at least one Healing Group.  During this week, 24 participants had the chance to teach in front of peers to get feedback.  The participatory learning required by the program is a big change for most people, but overall, they did well.  They also got some additional information about each of 11 lessons, reflected on the group they led, planned their next steps, and socialized!  Six people attended, but followed the track of the first course, joining the larger group for some activities. 

The other presenters were Margaret Hill, one of the authors of the books we use, Trauma: How the Church Can Help who is based in Nairobi, Kenya.  She also works with SIL, another Bible translation organization.  The other facilitator was Frank
Cole, a retired doctor from Britain who travels a couple of times a year to help facilitate seminars and works with the program through his home church.  I had met both people at the first seminar I attended last year.  I had also met most of the participants, either at the Bamenda seminar last year or at the Equipping Workshop I helped lead in Yaoundé in March.  (There’s a blog entry about that, too, if you’re interested.)  It was fun seeing people again. (Hey, Mom, here’s a picture of one of the new dresses I had made just before this trip.)

About ten of the participants (and three of the facilitators) came from Yaoundé so we rented a van.  This is a van that would generally be used for bus service, but the driver and his assistant picked us up (at three locations) instead of us having to get tickets and then getting ourselves to the bus station.  He also dropped us off at CABTAL instead of the bus station in Bamenda.  It was certainly more convenient.  The van was older (and a little uncomfortable) but we got there safely.  The trip takes about eight hours.  Much of the road is paved.  First we were on the road between Yaoundé and Douala; once we turned off toward Bamenda part of the road had recently been repaved and was great!  Then, we got to the section near the town that is not paved, rutted, and slow.  Hopefully they will work on that soon since the entry road into Bamenda has been recently paved.  The picture shows the driver’s assistant taking the tarp off the suitcases to unload.  (Tarps are essential in the rainy season to keep this dry, but also in the dry season to keep off some of the dust.)

One of the favorite foods around Bamenda is fufu-corn and njama-njama (sp?); we had it a couple of times during the week.  And, when we got back to Yaoundé Jackie Langdji prepared the same dish!  (There family is from that area.)  She cooked the fufu-corn in banana leaves while the cooks in Bamenda prepared it and put it in plastic bags.  As you can see in the picture, the dish is made from greens. In the Yaoundé version, Jackie added chicken; in Bamenda it had beef.  Tasty! 

On the way back a week later, we had a different, newer van, but, basically, the same trip in reverse.  We made slightly better time, but stopped several times to buy farm products for sale along the road.  We could have had a whole salad!  One place they sold avocados, another green  peppers, another carrots, another tomatoes!  The Bamenda grows much of the food for the country one participant (from that area) said. 

When we were in the outskirts of Yaoundé, we ran out of gas!  This is not something one would expect in the US (well, not in Cameroon either although I think it might be more common here).  Fortunately, the driver was close to a place to buy enough gas to get us to a station so we were only delayed ten minutes.  We passengers stretched our legs and chatted.

I got back to Langdjis house about 3:30. Frank stayed with me for a few hours until he left for the airport and England.  The next morning I got up early and drove with Garoua Boulai with the Bishop Ngembe and a young man headed for the Youth Gathering that started yesterday here in GB.  There are lots of people around, but not 34,000 as they had in Detroit!

On the way back, I met briefly with a woman from a church in Bertoua to talk about the possibility of my helping them with some planning.  The bishop also met someone in another town.  Still, the trip was quick and uneventful – another 8 hours…  We only had rain for the last 10 km.  It was heavy at times and when we got to GB, rivers of water were running along the sides of the road.  I’m glad we didn’t have that the whole way!  It is the rainy season, but I can be grateful for dry weather for driving.  

No comments:

Post a Comment