Tuesday 8th October 2013
It feels like I’m running to catch up with my blogging. It’s Tuesday already and I came back from Mbosha on Sunday.
When I arrived there on Saturday I basked in the beauty of the place while being fed rice and meat by my hosts.
Those of you who know me well will know that I don’t eat red meat or pork. My diet is mainly vegetarian with some occasional fish and chicken. But when my host offered me freshly killed beef I decided to try a small amount and was reminded of why I don’t eat it anymore. The rice however was lovely.
It was my first time of staying with a Muslim family and I was keen not to do anything to offend.
As the climate is so like Britain in Mbosha my hosts drink a lot of tea. So over many cups of tea I showed a very keen and eager 12 year old girl how to use my lap top. The time I spent with them was a reminder of the things we take so much for granted in the West. Hard to imagine that a 12 year old in Britain would not know how to use a computer.
Essentially I was in Mbosha to see two of Self Reliance Promotors’s other projects, namely the clinic and the palm oil project.
The clinic is self explanatory. It deals mainly with minor ailments and conditions. It also is the main midwifery facility in the area.
The palm oil project is based on buying in bulk to get a better price and delivering locally to women to enable them to make a saving. There are two groups in the village that meet on Sundays. In addition to buying palm oil the women are encouraged to save small sums towards bigger items.
Unfortunately the clinic was closed for refurbishment but I was able to meet with a few of the women from one of the palm oil groups. This first group actually rotate their meeting days and had already met that afternoon.
There were, however, a few stragglers around who were happy to meet with me. When I told them my story of coming to Cameroon to find my ancestral roots they welcomed me with open arms (literally). They hugged me, called me sister, daughter, mother and told me I was home now.
Their warmth and welcome brought me to tears and my only regret was that I did not get a chance to meet more of the members.
On the Sunday I was able to see the whole process when the second group arrived for their meeting at my host’s house.
It was a joy to be part of such a gathering. They too welcomed me, this time with song.
What was amazing was that the meeting was chaired by the 12 year old daughter of the house, as she was the only one who spoke English. She was co-opted into the group to act as the main spokesperson for the group.
I watched in amazement as she worked her way through the banking process, and moved seamlessly to the buying of the oil.
When this part was over the women decanted from the women’s quarters of the compound where the meeting took place to the garden, where the measuring and distribution took place. Here too was where the main support conversations took place against the stunning backdrop of hills, sheep and flowers.
I commented to anyone my hosts that I’d had the best night’s sleep since I arrived in Cameroon. The lack of electricity meant we went to bed early (9.30 p.m.) and I was still asleep at 8.00 a.m.
I was loaded with corn, palm oil and huckerberry (a spinach-like vegetable) and sent on my way. But not before being told that the women saw me as a bridge between them and he West. They hoped I would come again. I know that I will.