Two years ago, I emailed asking for help about a soy and nutrition project in Mvangan. Thanks to your help, the funding came through, and I trained nurses, teachers, women's agricultural groups about soy, how to plant soy, how to cook with soy, how to sell and market soy, how to prevent, recognize, and treat malnutrition. I published a manual in French on malnutrition, nutrients, and prevention and care. We had a soy fair one week before I left village, publicizing it to the community, and selling over 25 different traditional dishes the women's agricultural groups had created with soy. When I left, I had heard nurses talking to mothers about nutrition and doing nutritional consultations (something I had started at the hospital), I saw people planting, promulgating, and cooking with soy, and people from farther away villages coming up to me to ask about the projects.
(see http://jenny-and-cameroon.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2007-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2008-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=4 and http://jenny-and-cameroon.blogspot.com/2009_06_01_archive.html for summary and photographs of what I did).
In the past two years, this small "soy project", thanks to the hard work, creativity, and determination of new volunteers in Mvangan and Ebolowa and their wonderful Cameroonian counterparts, has grown beyond anything I could have imagined.
The South of Cameroon is probably one of the most challenging places to work, and to work in real, person-to-person, capacity building development. And that's where all of this has taken place. Sustainable development isn't just a buzz word for multinational NGOs - it's real, it's been happening, and through the training of trainers and capacity building that the new volunteers have done, it's going to continue.
And now they need your help, again. Please donate, if you can - any amount is helpful. If you can't, please pass on to others who may be interested.
For the SOY PROJECT:
Another project (see links above) I worked on at post was getting library books donated from a French NGO, Les Enfants de Madame Ici. The books came to village and people have - and are waiting to - eagerly enjoy them, but there's still no structure to house them. Another ongoing project is the "Reading Rainforest" (see below), to create a library and multimedia center, in collaboration with the mayor and other officials in town. In a place where almost no one has books (including school books), and there are few 'distractions' in town, this would be an amazing addition and a very enriching resource to last for many years to come.
Peace Corps Partnership is the major way Peace Corps Volunteers can get projects financed, especially in Cameroon where we have no USAID or almost any NGO support. Donations - in any amount - come from anyone, to make up to the project's total. The community contribution is at least 25% of the total, in material and work hours donated. Our grants undergo a rigorous review both in Cameroon and in DC at the national level.
I'm currently back in Cameroon, doing HIV/cancer research for the summer, and it's wonderful to be back. I'm on my way to Mvangan tomorrow for the first time in over a year and a half, but I've been very lucky to see many friends from Mvangan already, who have come to Yaounde to see me. 7 weeks - shorter than even our Peace Corps training time, before being posted for 2 years to village, is fleeting quickly, and I will be in France and back in San Francisco to start my second year of med school before I know it...
In the meantime, have a wonderful summer - and thank you for what you've helped us to continue accomplishing already.