Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Leaving Mamfe

We spent 2 days in Mamfe finalising the preparations for going out to Ote in Akwaya district. Our current major project in Cameroon is linked with Forudef NGO and is based in Buea in the south and Ote village in Akwaya with honey trading and beekeeping projects running. The trip felt like an expedition and preparations were exiting for both us and the Cameroonians who described us as 'going into the bush'. It felt like something from a previous era and a long way from a taxi to the airport followed by a busy easy jet flight. We have to take everything with us, while remaining light enough to carry what we needed on our backs if needs be, so the last few days had been a blur of markets and planning. 

We found a shop selling biscuits and cartons of juice
They also had lamps, pots and pans and every type of hardware you could imagine

A vehicle was hired and in addition to we three English Bees Abroad workers, and two Forudef  workers  we will take extra fare paying passengers once were are all loaded up to save costs. Everything in Cameroon takes longer than expected, and out car arrived only an hour late (to our surprise) at 7.30 on what was an already warm morning. 
Loading the vehicle in the Mamfe bus station known as 'The Park'

We loaded the luggage, including a large Cassava frying pan, which splits into two, measuring about 1m x 1.5m with sides raising 150cm at a 45degree angle out from the base. There is a steel base into which a stainless steel top fits into. The steel base is in contact with the fire while the stainless steel pan with cassava in sits on top- this is so that the cassava does not burn or discolour and the pan does not rust. This is to accompany the cassava grinder that had coated us in the sticky pulp a few days ago when we tried it out, but which the workshop owner assured us would be fixed next week. This is part of a project that Forudef (the locally based Cameroonian NGO we are working with) will be running for a women’s cooperative to produce Garri (a type of dough popular in west African made from fermented cassava) to sell to local villages and their own community. The mechanisation will allow increased production as the whole process is currently done by hand.The whole project was devised by Matt and Mischatwo Canadians who came to work with Forudef last year and travelled out to Ote with us in March 2011.

Forudef hopes to create a market in Ote so that people in the neighbouring villages will come  to Ote to trade. The village can sell the Garri and other farm produce which Forudef will work with them to develop, and so will allow the village to grow. Currently most people wanting to trade will travel many miles (as far as Mamfe over 50miles away) to trade, but the hope is to create a market town closer and attract people to stay in the region rather than move to large towns. This allows other towns to come and trade what they make and will enrich the area. This plan is voiced daily by the people we meet, and they are looking to us to help them in this project. It does feel good to be working alongside a Cameroonian charity and development NGO whose members are from the communities in which we are working and so really know what it is that can help. It is just a good thing that the plans of Forudef, the villages of Ote and surrounding village and Bees Aboard fit so closely, and we are able to help Ote realise there initiative. 

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