Monthly Archives: July 2011

A Fantastic Summer!

31 July 2011

FSS Salaberry and The Team from Barombi Mbo Village play a friendly match in the isolated village. Barombi sports Wheeling Central jerseys they have been using since 2008.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I walked through the Pittsburgh International Airport, a song by Lady Ponce played inside my head. The beats of “Ca la” are inescapable. I hummed along with a spring in my step. I was physically in the States, but mentally I was 5,000 miles away still in Cameroon.

After nearly 40 hours of travel, sleep deprivation would convince me I was on any continent.  With plenty of time during my travels to begin digesting our experience in Cameroon, I reflected on the challenges and accomplishments of the past two months. We have done much in this short time – building a solid foundation in Kumba, extending our hand to schools in the community for partnership, and creating life-long friendships with members of the FSS soccer club from Montreal, Canada.

Our local management team is fluent with our Training Manual and Handbook which contains 30 complete lessons on life skills and HIV education including guidelines for leading discussions and reinforcing activities. Working with FSS Salaberry, we trained a handful of sports masters from local schools to join forces in the next year. We practiced our weekly session model in the field when we hosted 3 days of youth camps in Kumba. FSS was there all the way to critique and support us, and we are forever grateful!  Everything is in place for our weekly after-school programs beginning in September and our monthly community soccer camps starting this Saturday.

There is still so much more to share! Stay tuned to the blog over the next month for a complete summary touching on all aspects of our experience this summer!, and, most importantly, thank you for your support!
-Justin

 

While it’s nice to have fast enough internet to post these video updates here in the US, I have to say that I’m absolutely livid that I’m missing out on all the stuff that’s been happening in Kumba over the last few weeks.  Having the team from FSS Salaberry get involved with the CFDP has been incredible, and we are so happy to have the opportunity to work with such fantastic athletes and people.

That said, this week (albeit a bit late), we have a slightly different video update.  Instead of anything CFDP related, this weeks clip focuses on a ubiquitous activity  in Kumba and beyond: the preparation of Eru (pronounced similarly to the word “arrow”), the so-called national dish of Cameroon.  Making this delicacy is extremely labor intensive, as it involves shredding greens into filaments so small it’s almost impossible to tell where one ends and other begins.  This process, combined with long, slow, cooking causes the otherwise nigh indigestible plants to become soft and delicious.  The end result is reminiscent of collard greens, but totally different at the same time.

Four Days. Two Cities. Over 200 youth engaged. CFDP and FSS collaborated for a fantastic week of soccer camps for youth which kicked off last Monday in Kumba and rounded up on Thursday in Buea, the capital of the Southwest Region. The camps served not only Cameroonian youth, but allowed new CFDP leaders to practice all they had learned in the training sessions the past week, CFDP management team to refine their planning and management skills, and the FSS players to stretch their legs and show CFDP some fun games and excellent soccer drills.

CFDP ran the first three days of camps in Kumba. In those three days, we realized massive progress and growth. Day 1 we succumbed to African Time getting started 2 hours late (rain did not help!)! Tuesday, we started about 10am – just an hour after we planned. Wednesday, we started at 9:07am. RIGHT. ON. TIME. CFDP management team and leaders were ready and the youth were at the field EARLY and ready to start on time! On this day, FSS could easily see the fruits of their labors!

Thursday we traveled to Buea to work with another group of youth from Bokova Village, outside of Buea. We partnered with United Action for Children for this day-long youth empowerment event. FSS took the lead by engaging boys and girls in exciting drills. CFDP closed the day with some small group discussions.

On Friday, we moved to the beautiful beaches of Limbe to celebrate our great success! Pictures coming soon!

I set off for the local Barnes and Noble yesterday in search of some new summer reading material.  Naturally, it wasn’t long before I found myself in the World History section, where I happened across this scene:

The African History "Section"

The inadequacy of my cell phone photography skills aside, something looks a bit wrong here.  First, the entirety of the African History “section” at this, an otherwise very well-stocked store takes up a grand total of two and a half feet of space on a single shelf.  There is almost as much real estate dedicated to the life and times of Snooki as there is to thousands of years of history of an entire continent.  Granted, the small selection is understandable; not everyone is into this type of reading and there’s not a huge market for it here.

More unfortunate is the specific books on the shelf.  If you look at the picture, you can really only read three of the titles, and you’ll notice they’re all just basically variations on “Africa”.  Big bold letters, little to no elaboration, just “Africa”.  I picked through the other offerings looking for anything more specific, and found a single book about the Belgian Congo, a few others about the Middle East, and nothing else.

This shelf highlights one of the biggest problems facing western understanding of development in places like Cameroon.  Africa is not, as these monolithic books would imply, a country.  It’s a continent made up of some 50+ different countries (and, as of this weekend, a new one), each with its own unique people, lifestyle, and culture. It’s critical that these great places get recognized for their own sake, not just as part of one big geographic blob. Before addressing any of the many issues facing Africa as a continent, the world has to start treating it like one.

-Nick

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