World Literacy Day

September 8th is World Literacy Day!

It was established by UNESCO at the 14th session of the General Conference on October 26th, 1966. This day is to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies (WHO, 2019).

All of us at One World Tuition love to read! It opens so many avenues for the imagination. I have traveled through the Standing Stones with Claire to Scotland, followed a young girl who became a Geisha in Japan, tracked across the desert on camelback in Australia, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and gained wisdom on love and friendship. And that barely touches the surface! Fiction, Non-Fiction, Memoirs; each genre offers a chance to learn and, in a world full of chaos, books offer an escape to the reader if only for a moment.

Story telling continues to be an important means of communication for cultures around the world. People groups pass down ancient stories about family legends, challenges/successes and share lessons learned so the next generation doesn’t repeat them. Much of the Bible was passed down through the generations before being put to paper.

According to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2017), people in the U.S. 15 years and older spent an average of 16.8 minutes a day reading (not including for work or school), this is down from 22.8 minutes in 2005.

I grew up in a home full of books, we were frequent visitors at the public library; going to story time and taking home different books every week. Our whole family loved reading and I especially remember getting new books for long care rides from Michigan to Florida in the summertime or when we would go camping. I got to enter a new world when I would break the binding of a new book for the first time.

My mother rewarded me with books for having good behaviors which not only reinforced those behaviors, but it opened my mind and helped me to grow and learn! I am where I am today because my parents instilled in me the desire to learn and provided me the tools to be successful which included lots and lots of books!

Studies show that kids who read have improved concentration, learn about the world around them, improves their vocabulary and language skills, develops the imagination and empathy, and overall to better in school. Literacy is important for develop and future success.

Reader’s Digest gives the benefits of reading: Here

I didn’t grow up with an iPad, MP3 player or cell phones. Our internet had to dial up before I could chat with friends on AIM. My biggest worry was having enough batteries in my flashlight to read at night! None of those tools are bad, it’s the amount of time we let them have during our day. Turning off the screen and opening a book may just be what the world needs! I hope to be the same resource for my children as my mom was for me; unplugging and page turning!

reading kids.jpg

Check out what other libraries around the world look like by clicking the link below!

31 Incredible Libraries and Bookstores Around the World

“Once you learn how to read, the sky is the limit with your education.” Stefanie Harris, One World Tuition President

Here is a list of a few of our favorite books! (no particular order):

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – Rebecca Skloot (Non-fiction)

Outlander – Diana Gabaldon (Historical Fiction)

The Season of Angels – Perry Stone (Non-Fiction)

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind - William Kamkwamba (Non-fictioni)

Love Wins - Rob Bell (Non-fiction)

In A Sunburned Country - Bill Bryson (Non-fiction)

Book Review: "I Am Malala; The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and got shot by the Taliban"

I am an avid reader of all genres, but I especially love memoirs and thought this was a great one to share since it’s dear to the hearts of us at One World Tuition; educating girls.

Malala is from a lovely valley in Northern Pakistan named Swat. She describes her home as “a heavenly kingdom of mountains, gushing waterfalls and crystal-clear lakes.” She is the oldest of three children and the only girl. When she was born, her father, Ziauddin, rejoiced even though the custom in Pakistan is to not rejoice over a girl child first; sons are held in higher regard. But despite the culture, Malala’s father decided his own mind when it came to his happiness. He was a teacher who opened schools in their region that accepted both boys and girls to attend. Her father knew the importance of his daughter having an education. He had had sisters and they were made to stay home and wait to be married; they did not go to school.

Malala often describes how passionate she was about her schoolwork; she always had a knack for public speaking and would participate in competitions with her classmates in the village. Her mother started school when she was 6 and stopped the same term, even though her father and brothers encouraged her to go to school. She felt there was no point in going to school if she would only grow up to cook, clean, have and raise children.

From an early age, Malala was interested in politics and would sit on her father’s lap listening to discussions among the men. She felt a deep connection with her father who encouraged her to study, learn and use opportunities to speak change into the world.

When Malala was in her early teens, the rise of the Taliban began to be evident in her village. Radio announcements would encourage the people in her village to change their ways regarding men and women gender roles. Over time, girls were targeted when they went to school or women who were alone with a man were attacked. When Malala asked her father why the Taliban is afraid to let girls go to school, he said “They are scared of the pen.”

Malala states “The Taliban could take our pens and books, but they couldn’t stop our minds from thinking.” Can you imagine living in such a place where you are forbidden to attend school? Your entire future is controlled by group who pledges violence, targeting women and young girls. In America, we take school for granted; as a basic human right. For many in the world, it’s a luxury and reserved for the boys and men leaving women to stay at home to take care of the household (still a valuable position but should not be her only option).

At one point, Malala was contacted by her father’s friend, Abdul Hai Kakar, a BBS radio correspondent and he was looking for a female schoolgirl to write a diary about life under the Taliban. They decided to change Malala’s name and she would give Abdul stories about her life, school and village to bring awareness to the situation. She says “I began to see that the pen and the words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. We were learning how to struggle. And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.” Malala quickly saw that what she writes can be powerful and changes circumstances around her world.

She often states being afraid that the Taliban would throw acid on her face if she was caught wearing or doing something the Taliban didn’t approve; her fear didn’t stop her from seeking her greatest desire, an education.

Malala shares that because she had two supportive parents, it made all the difference in her life. Many children around the world have lost one or both parents to disease, war, famine, and more. One World Tuition is helping provide an education to the next generation, giving them hope and a chance to know that they are loved and valued. They have a purpose and a place in this world, and they deserve a chance to grow and soar.

When her family was forced to evacuate her home and become Internationally Displaced Persons (IDPs), she had to leave her school bag with all her books because it wouldn’t fit in the vehicle. She cried and prayed for their safety. I’m not sure about you, but I have never felt this way about my schoolbooks – I’ve never had to fight for them, leave them behind and I certainly never treasured them the way Malala did her own.

The day Malala was shot, she was sitting on the school bus with a few other girls. The bullet went in just next to her left eye and was lodged in her shoulder. She has since recovered after a long process.

She received the Nobel Peace Prize and gave a speech at the UN being quoted as saying “Let us pick up our book and our pens, they are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”

Watch it here.

Women and girls all around the world are more likely to leave school early than their counterparts. Due to the cost, or lack of support they are not able to start or even finish their schooling. We know that when a woman in educated, her entire household gains the benefits.

If you have an book recommendations, email me at erica@oneworldtuition.org and you may see it featured on the blog as a must read!

 

As always,

Never stop learning!

Erica

Adventures in Cameroon: Tales from a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – Post #2

While serving in the Peace Corps, I worked on completing my Master’s in Public Health with the University of South Florida through the Master’s International Program. I chose to forgo the typical thesis to have an adventure and do a real-life project instead!

I volunteered in the HIV Treatment center at the Hospital in Buea, Capital of the Southwest region in Cameroon. The hospital and my position with Peace Corps was partly funded by PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).

Left: Location of Buea, captial of the Southwest region.

Middle: Me with the hospital administrator.

Right: The hospital tucked in the foothills of Mount Cameroon - a beautiful view to see every day walking into work!

The center is called UPEC (a French word that, for the life of me I can’t remember!) We serve over 3,000 clients a year giving them life-saving medicine and support. The clients (sometimes up to 150+ a day) would start arriving at 6am and wait to be seen to get their pills for the next 3 – 6 months. In true African time, we would arrive at the hospital in the morning usually around 10am and grab their workbooks that had been placed on the stool outside the door (making sure to keep them in order!). We don’t have an appointment system for them to sign-in, so their book is the placeholder for their turn. The clients are responsible for their own medical book with the date of their next visit, their updated numbers and pill regimen; while we hold a file with their medical information. Some clients are healthy, others are not doing well. There is a Doctor on staff who diagnoses and prescribes medication. However, the clients can’t always afford the money to get a prescription if the medicine is even available that day. We call them one by one to take their blood pressure, temperature, weight and update their lab numbers. It is difficult for the clients some days when the machine that gives their updated numbers is broken (which is often), they make the best of the situation.

Left: The client files. We sort their books and find their file to update all their paperwork by hand.

Middle: A coffin from the morgue on top of a van for transport to the burial site.

Right: The only Hemodialysis center around for miles.

The barriers to care in Cameroon are tough for the people to overcome. Transportation is a big problem, especially if they are coming from a small village where it can take an entire day to make it into Buea where the regional hospital is located. Most of the villages are accessible only by motorbikes and the older men and women cannot physically handle the voyage.

Another barrier that exists everywhere in the world is stigma. People are afraid of what they do not know. And most of the time, myths about HIV keep people from understanding the virus. Many people believe you can get HIV through methods such as sharing a cup, towel, etc.

The barriers create what we call a “loss to follow-up” which means the person has missed their appointments for months. We search for the person in order to get them back on medication, or in the case they had passed away to update their file and offer condolences.

Left: My co-workers “Auntie Cathy” on the left and my Counterpart/Supervisor “Aunty Cathy”. We refer to each other as “Auntie” or “Uncle”

Right: Me and Auntie Sally

Here are a few HIV facts:

·        Transferred through blood, used needles, semen and vaginal fluid.

·        There are many strains of the virus and a person can be re-infected with a different strain.

·        Cameroon has the most variety of HIV strains.

·        The cycle exists through adolescent girls and older men. The men infect the young girls who then infect their counterparts. The adolescent girls get money, security, comfort, food, etc. from the older men and in turn get infected with HIV. (This has been proved through various studies and trends in data). This process is known throughout all the world as means of survival for women (and some young men).

·        An HIV positive woman can give birth to a HIV negative child.

·        A discordant couple (one HIV+, one HIV-) can have a baby without the other partner or baby becoming infected.

·        1 in 5 people (20%) don’t know they are infected.

·        HIV is the virus and if left untreated, it turns to AIDS.

HIV is so common in Cameroon many believe it’s only a matter of time before they are infected, so protection isn’t necessary.  

HIV/AIDS does not discriminate.

Apart from doing initial intake, I worked in the counseling room where community members would come to get tested. I gave them pre-test counseling about HIV transmission; most of them had no formal knowledge of the virus. I also did post-test counseling where I gave the person their result. This was the hardest part of the job and I did not take it lightly. It is interesting to witness people accept a positive result. This is because they see it as inevitable which is not true, it is preventable by 96% when those who are positive take medication.

My favorite part was working with the children at our clinic. We had a special Saturday each month dedicated to teaching children who are HIV positive about their lifestyle and diagnosis. We help the caretakers (many children are orphans from HIV/AIDS) take care of the child and offer support to explain that they are HIV positive. It was a humbling experience to witness these children living a strong and healthy life. All the children at our clinic were born HIV positive through birth which is preventable through planning and medication.

Transmission of HIV to a child through delivery or breastmilk can be prevented. The women must be on her medication which makes the virus weak and will not be able to get passed along. Unfortunately, not every woman has access to good healthcare; therefore, many children are exposed and become positive through delivery or breastmilk.

I worked alongside amazing women and men who are loving, caring and supportive. They welcomed me with open arms and made me feel at home the first day I showed up to work. I wasn’t sure what I would be doing, but they really helped me learn the process and even let me practice my Pidgin! They never made me feel insecure or out of place. I felt loved and accepted, the most I’ve ever felt in my life.

A party to celebrate becoming an association at the hospital isn’t complete without matching outfits!

The project I completed for my master’s degree included teaching Malaria prevention to people with HIV because they are more susceptible to disease and sickness. I designed a poster to teach the clients how to protect themselves from Malaria.

I did various HIV education and testing events with the help of the hospital staff. I also taught at small groups around the city and gave talks on HIV education and transmission, menstrual health, and healthy relationships.

Left: Testing in the filed with my co-workers.

Right: The tent to draw them in and help decrease the stigma by making testing more available.

A unique experience to put together a testing event in the community! In the states, I wouldn’t have been able to do this since I am not qualified.

There is so much information and I could go on and on about my experience of people living with HIV and the clinical process, but I will end here. If you have any questions or want to learn more about the barriers to care you can email me at the address below.

Knowledge is power!

This is especially true when learning about other cultures and a virus so massive with a broad history and a mystery to most of the world.

If you want to know more about HIV, the various strains and origins, visit www.cdc.gov or www.WHO.gov

The experience of serving with the Peace Corps was the most life-enhancing adventure for me. I miss Cameroon and my people every day. Not a day goes by that I don’t think back on my work and what I learned from the people that surrounded me. Writing this blog has been good for my heart, it has called me to remember the simple life and how much value it holds. Richard, my husband and I plan to return to Cameroon one day, Lord knows when, but it can’t be soon enough!

On my next post, I will show you what my house looked like and talk about Buea a little more!

Until Next Time,

#NeverStopLearning!

Erica

erica@onewolrdtuition.org

www.oneworldtuition.org

An interview with Benedict Musembi

Benedict Musembi is a current college student in Kenya with One World Tuition and the first one on track to graduate soon. We are so proud of him and want to share a small part of his story with you all. You can see what a difference can be made in the life of a child through education.

Investing in a child’s future is priceless!

Thank you for your support through prayer, sharing our non-profit and giving of your finances to continue the goal to eliminate poverty through education.

The following is an interview with Benedict.

**Side note: I purposely left the answers in his own words so that his voice is heard**

Tell us a little about your family and growing up.

My mother died when we (Myself, Titus and young sister) were young. We had not even gone to school. Sikizana Rescue Centre took us and nursed us a Group of other children who were as vulnerable as we were. Our aged grandmother and drunkard grandfather had limited ability to feed, clothe and take us to school. It was at just nick of time that Cosmas and his wife Rachel took us in and became our parents to date through Sikizana Rescue centre.

Check out Sikizana Trust Rescue Centre facebook page to learn more! Sikizana Rescue Centre

What did you study and what was your favorite thing to learn about?

At Sikizana Trust I was taken through primary and secondary School. I attained a mean grade of C-. (c Minus) I joined Coast Institute of Technology for a Diploma in Tourism management with full scholarship from One world Tuition. Doing tourism as a career was my passion. It is a dream come true.

What did it mean for you to finish school?

Finishing high school only would have meant very little. Without a career to rely on is a big challenge. However, finishing this first level of Tourism profession marks the starting point of my adulthood. I am moving out to the world shoulder high. I know much responsibilities await me; responsible to myself, my family siblings and the society as a whole. The Diploma in Tourism Management  introduces me in the industry as a specialist aiming in earning income to help myself  and probably advance in the same field.

What job will you be moving in to?

The training has prepared me to work as a tour guide department and/or Travel Operator. It is possible to grow up the ranks and manage the sector.

 

How will your degree affect your future?

It means I have skills and knowledge as basis of developing experience in the industry and this will widely open for me more doors in the market.  

Tell us about your dreams for the future.

Having my own tourism company is top on the list.  My Dean of academics wished that I would do two more modules to enhance my competence in the market. Doing that is my next agenda. I will in future help someone in need just as people have done to me and my siblings.

I will in future help someone in need just as people have done to me and my siblings.

Benedict has hope and future because of his education. Tourism is an esteemed career in various countries in Africa. Kenya is where you can go to find the typical animals you think of when Africa comes to mind. Most areas across Africa actually do not have lions, giraffes and elephants, etc. However, Kenya is one of the few places left where you can safari to see them. Benedict’s career is a strong one and you helped him get there!!

Blessings to you and your family,

May we never stop learning!

Erica

erica@oneworldtuition.org

Must read for your summer book list!

Greetings One World Tuition Family! Happy Spring time – almost summer!

This month I wanted to give you a synopsis on a book I just finished, and it just so happens that this is what inspired our founder, Stefanie Harris, to start One World Tuition!

The book I read is entitled The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

This true story, turned Netflix original movie, is about a young boy, William Kamkwamba. He was born and raised in Wimbe, Malawi and when he was 14 years old, a drought and famine swept across the nation. Like most countries in Africa, corruption leads to starvation and starvation to desperation. In Malawi, only 2% of the population has electricity and running water! The Malawians are farmers, working the land and reaping a harvest one time during the year. It’s back-breaking, hot and dry work that yield crops to sell at the market and feed the family. But once the drought hit, the land dried up completely, not raining for months and many people died of starvation. The village was desolate with people leaving to find better land to feed their families and survive.

William was not able to continue attending school because his family could not afford the fees. He would continue to try and sneak into school so he could continue to learn, but the headmaster found him, and he was sent home. One day he visited the school library, the woman working there decided to let him stay and he found a book called Using Energy. By reading the book he was able to construct a wind turbine on his own, truly an outstanding feat! William did not to wait around for help that was never coming and instead wanted to bring life-saving technology to his village. His passion and perseverance paid off!

Using materials found from the scrapyard, bicycle parts and car batteries, William pieced them all together over the course of months to build the wind turbine.  The turbine brought lights to the village and was connected to a water pump which kept the crops watered year around for a better harvest.

William was eventually discovered by the local media and the story began to spread through the country, he even came to America for a Ted Talk! WATCH HERE. He continued to go to school and graduated from Dartmouth College.

Despite the barriers and push back he got from his family and friends (many called him crazy), William at 14 years old persevered knowing that he could build the wind turbine to bring electricity and running water to his village. He held onto the fact that in the end, everyone would be grateful for his work.

Left: William and his wind turbine.

Right: Malawi is tucked in between Zambia and Mozambique.

“If you want to make it, all you have to do is try.” William Kamkwamba.

What’s the connection to One World Tuition?

William started school, but due to oppression by the government, drought and famine, William, along with many other students were not able to continue because the families could not afford the school fees. What Americans do not understand, is most countries around the world require students to pay a fee every year to attend school. (Even in countries not hindered by drought, famine or corruption, most families cannot afford school fees for all their children). The school fees include the teacher’s salaries, principal salaries, etc. Furthermore, each school has a uniform the students must wear every day with specific shoes, some students cannot afford the uniform and are not allowed to attend school. The classrooms are usually empty without desks or materials to write or study. However, these students go on to finish school, complete University and work in jobs that bring more stability to their families.

Education has the power to end poverty around the world. According to the World Bank, one extra year of school increases earnings by 20% for women. Imagine what can happen when an entire generation of girls and boys go on to complete higher education, the possibilities are endless!

William never gave up his dream of building a wind turbine for his village. It all started out with a book and a simple understanding of energy that propelled him into a brighter future than he or his parents could have hoped for him.

As a non-profit, the One World Tuition family believes that education has the power to change lives! Not just one, but many. In the example of William, he was able to finish school and it not only made a difference in his life, but his entire family and village of people! The ripple effect of education is a powerful force that continues for generations to come.

That is why 100% of the money donated to One World Tuition goes to the child’s education. We have no operating costs or salaries. You may wonder why we work so hard to provide education to students in poverty and the answer is simple: compassion. We see children suffering and are passionate about seeing the world be a better place starting with children who are educated and can change their futures for the better. We can’t help everyone around the world, but what we can do it help a child go through school who otherwise would not have had the chance.

Right: William’s wind turbine in Wimbe, Malawi

The quote below from the book, spoken at the TED Talk conference says it all. Africans are great innovators, they don’t have access to the newest gadgets, they use what they can to live, work and play.

“Africans bend what little they have to their will every day. Using creativity, they overcome Africa’s challenges. Where the world sees trash, Africa recycles. Where the world sees junk, Africa sees rebirth.” Erik Hersman

Left: William hanging a light bulb in his room powered by the wind turbine he built.

Right: Working with car batteries.

The book goes into more detail than I can describe and is a must for your summer reading list!!

Take a journey with William this summer, it will give you insight to another culture in this world and you will never forget it!

If you’re wondering what you can do to be involved with One World Tuition to end poverty, here are a few ways you can help:

  1. Visit www.oneworldtuition.org to find out more about supporting children through school around the world!

  2. Like us on Facebook and Instagram to learn more about education around the world and the statistics that children face. Share what we have going on with your friends and family.

  3. Join our email list to get updates on what is happening with our students and our current needs.

 You can end poverty through education!!

 Until next time, never stop learning!

Erica

Erica@oneworldtuition.org

Cooking in Cuba

Here is a little "Taste" of Cuba. I hope you hungry to learn a little about cooking in Cuba #Yougotschooled #alwayslearning #nonprofit #Cuba #Havana #Education #Travel #Cooking

Dessert: Torrejas

Ingredients 1 loaf of bagette (or any other kind of bread)

1 twelve onces evaporated milk can

1 cup of sugar

3 egg yolks

1 teaspoon of vanilla

4 whipped eggs

2 cups of vegetable oil

2 teaspoons of dry wine

1 teaspoon of grounded cinnamon

Preparation

Cut bread in thick slices of more of 1 inch width. Mix the egg yolks, the milk, the sugar, the dry wine, the vanilla and the grounded cinnamon. Soak bread in mixed milk and then in whipped eggs. Fry bread slices in hot oil. Serve them with syrup.

Syrup Ingredients

1 cup of sugar half cup of water

2 drops of lemon juice cinnamon anise or lemon skin at will

Preparation

Add the ingredients into a saucepan. Cook at medium fire until sugar gets dissolved. Do not stir during cooking time. Once it starts boiling let it cook at very low fire for 5 minutes until syrup gets sticky. Once it cools the syrup gets thicker.

Dessert: Guava shells

Ingredients

2 pounds of ripe or half-ripe guavas

1 cup of sugar

1 liter of water

Preparation

Peel the guavas and cut them in halves. Carefully remove with a spoon the inside of the guava and make sure to remove all the seeds. Before cooking the guava shells in water sprinkle a bit of salt. Cook until they start to get tender. Drain some water from the casserole so that the syrup gets thicker. Once they are tenderized, add the sugar, and let them cook at medium fire until the syrup is dense. Remove from fire and let them cool before refrigerating them. Serve them with cream cheese or any other type of cheese

Adventures in Cameroon: Tales from a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer – Post #1

My name is Erica, one of the board members with One World Tuition. When our beloved President, Stefanie first spoke to me about her idea to form a non-profit to eliminate poverty around the world through education, I was intrigued and excited!! I happened to be in my first year as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) living in Cameroon, West Africa. I was elated to hear this news! We discussed through email the best way to go about finding schools, students and other logistics. It was fun to be in on this dream from the beginning. You see, education around the world is not free, there are no tax dollars going into the education system. Families are on their own to provide this for their multiple children, often deciding which ones they can afford to send and who will stay home.

Living in Cameroon, West Africa with the Peace Corps for 27 months was a whirlwind experience. By the time I returned home I held a larger worldview, wonderful memories, an African wardrobe, a new language, fabric galore, life experiences and a husband, just to name a few.

(First) The day I left for Cameroon! Tears soon followed this ear to ear grin!
(Second) The group of health volunteers. We all went through 10 weeks of training in a small village and became like family! I’m in the back row, third from the left.
(Third) Me signing the document to officially “swear in” as a Peace Corps Volunteer!
(Fourth) School children in training village.
(Fifth) My host brother, Yael. I gave him a frisbee for his 13th birthday.

Peace Corps Experience

The slogan for the Peace Corps says: “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love!” and so on point for me! Being a PCV was the most rewarding experience, I fell in love with a country and its people; a love I didn’t know could exist!

It was the most life-enhancing experience I have ever gone through. Living, working and experiencing African culture has been my dream since I was a young girl. The desire grew as I did through reading books, watching movies and hearing stories of those who have gone before me.

The Peace Corps is a wonderful way to live as one of the people in the county where you serve. The commitment for the Peace Corps is 27 months which at first it feels like a lifetime. But let me tell you, the days are long, but the years are short!! The first 10 weeks in the country were spent living in a village with a host family. We would go to training every day to learn the language, culture and basic life skills. It was difficult but since we were in a group, it made the time go by faster. The families helped us learn how to cook, clean, shop and live day to day life.

The Peace Corps allowed me to get to know a different culture other than my own and helped me develop an understanding for the world around me. I understand the way other cultures impact our daily lives and what we can do to bridge the gap between America, Cameroon and other countries around the world. It is easy to hide in the America bubble and not try to understand other humans in the world.

(Left) First night in country, having dinner at the County Director’s house.
(Middle) Close of service conference 26 months later.
(Right) Hiking a rock quarry during our 10 week training while rain clouds roll in.

Being a volunteer, I was only given a monthly stipend in the local currency that covered rent, utilities, transportation and food. At first, it seemed like everything was so cheap! Most of us volunteers would spend money so quickly thinking in American dollar because it goes a long way, but it was a dangerous way to think. I had to learn how to live, spend and think like a Cameroonian. While in the Peace Corps they provide full medical coverage, the monthly stipend and freedom to live on your own with your own house to decorate.

Daily life becomes filled with reading, washing clothes by hand, watching baby goats, walking to the market, making food and visiting friends. It all the people shouting because that’s their normal talking voice and buying food from someone walking down the street with a tray on their head. The packed buses shuttling people all around the country became my form of transportation wherever I need to go and the taxi drivers honking consistently, their way of asking if I need a ride when standing on the side of the road. I remember when I knew I was part of the people; I was on my porch which was 40 yards up a large hill, a taxi was coming down the road and I made a “kissy” sound as loud as I could (this gets someone’s attention in the culture, so it’s normal for us) and the driver heard me!! He waited for my friend (I was catching it for her) and I felt so proud that he heard my kissy noise because before that time, it had never worked.

Life has a volunteer is simple, fun, relaxing, challenging and enriching! I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

(More on this in future posts).

(Left) My counterpart at the hospital and the women I was training.
(Middle) My landlady making “fou fou corn” fermented cassava mashed up. Delicious!!!
(Right) Me holding cassava before my landlady mashes it up for fou fou corn.

Africa & Cameroon

Africa is the second largest continent on planet earth with 54 separate countries and home to 1.2 billion people. Of those people are countless tribes and languages. We cannot minimize Africa down to one place in our American mind. Each country has its individual cultures, lifestyles, challenges and strengths. Let’s keep that in mind the next time someone tells you they’re from Africa. (More on this in a future post).

In Cameroon alone, there are 270+ languages and people groups. It is known as “Africa in Miniature” because the diversity of the geography and its people. The soil is rich in nutrients and therefore the growing seasons are year-round. They have a rainy season and dry season. It’s a tropical climate, 5 degrees north of the equator.

Cameroon was settled by the French, British and German colonies. Therefore, the country is bilingual speaking French and a form of English called Pidgin. There are 10 regions, 8 Francophone and 2 Anglophone in which I called home for 2 years.

Starting from left: Cameroon, giant avocado, Garri and Eru (traditional meal), Tole Tea plantation.

I lived in Buea, capital of the Southwest region in the foothills of the glorious Mount Cameroon, the tallest mountain in West Africa that will forever humble me and leave me in awe of its splendor. 

I came to learn that Cameroonians have their own way of doing life and that’s okay! They do not have some of the modern conveniences, but they make do and I valuable that ability. The first few months being in the country I constantly thought “that’s different! In America…” I would compare my culture with Cameroon when there is no comparison!!!! And that is what I love the most. The people have their own way of life, they’re happy to work hard for what they have. A sense of work ethic that others may not value.

(Left) Mount Cameroon from my backyard after a rainy morning.
(Right) Day hike up Mount Cameroon.

In my next post, I will go into my specific job in the HIV treatment center at the Regional Hospital; providing care and support to those who are HIV positive and in treatment.

If you’re interested about serving with the Peace Corps, I can answer any questions through the email listed below.

You can also visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.

Until next time - #NeverStopLearning,

Erica
erica@oneworldtuition.org