EP Wahl CentreWhite CrossCameroon 2014 Blog

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With an elevation climb of over 6000 ft. we moved from the coastal to the grassland region of Cameroon.

The heat and humidity are not nearly as intense in this part of Cameroon, although it is still hot and dusty as the rainy season has not yet reached this area. 

Driving in Cameroon is quite the experience.  Sometimes there are three “lanes” sometimes two (on what would be a two-lane road in Canada).  Besides the cars, there are many, many motorcycles, which weave through the narrow gaps between cars, large trucks and the constant stream of people.  People are always walking at the side of the road, seemingly oblivious to the constant stream of traffic.  Sometimes you will see an entire class of children travelling home from school along the side of the road (recognize them by their uniforms).  There is no rope for them to grab, no adults in front and behind—often there are not adults with them at all.  In the 6 hour trip from the city of Mutengene to the city of Bamenda, we almost never had a time without people along the side of the road.  Yet it has its own kind of order.  Although I am told that accidents do occur, we never saw a single one on the entire trip.  The best rule of the road seem to be: always yield to that which is larger.  Picture: Motorcycles are all over, even in smaller, quieter towns.

 

Cameroon is an amazing nation.  The bulk of the population is hard-working, creative and very entrepreneurial.  While much of their lives are very different from the Western “ideal,” they manage to make a reasonable living on very limited incomes.  Food is everywhere—this is the breadbasket of West Africa and you are usually allowed to collect food from the field, although only for personal need, not to sell.  Meat is a part of the diet, but it differs from the usual fare.  Chickens are everywhere, and served as a source of eggs and meat.  However, I don’t think everything tastes like chicken.  We saw rodents of various kinds for sale at the side of the road (they just hold the dead animal up and wave it to attract your attention).  I did not eat any rat or other rodent species, but did enjoy some roast goat and fresh fruit.  Picture: A women sells fruit at the "side" of the road.

In contrast, medical care might not be so readily available, at least if it were not for the work of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services.   As we travelled for miles past thousands of people I was struck by the clear value of the Health Centres (both Primary and Integrated) that continue to expand in order to serve the medical needs of Cameroonians.

 

 We certainly notice the weather!  Hot.  Humid.  And then it rains.  It is the rainy season in Cameroon.  I think we should promote a visit to Cameroon as part of a guaranteed weight loss program.  I must have dropped 5-10 pounds in water weight today.

Today was eye-opening!

We started the day touring the “Central Pharmacy” (CP) of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS--Cameroonians love their acronyms).  This is a warehouse complex where all of the medical/hospital goods shipped to Cameroon arrive before being sorted and distributed among the various institutions of the CBCHS.  As its name indicates (“Central”), this place is the center for the distribution of supplies in Cameroon.  All materials shipped by White Cross (as well as other agencies) arrive at the Central Pharmacy: every hospital bed, every bandage, every baby blanket, every wheelchair, every order of latex gloves, every bolt of material, etc. is unloaded here and fills orders from institutions across the country.  They also produce many other medical supplies right here.  Over 300 people (all Cameroonian) work at Central Pharmacy.  Picture: JJ Williams (far left), Keir Hammer and Cal Hohn (2nd from right) pose on a hospital bed with CP staff.

What stood out more than all the bustle of activity were the clearly heart-felt expressions of gratitude for the provisions supplied by White Cross over the years and the hope that this will continue well into the foreseeable future.  Although I have not yet toured the hospital and health centres where these supplies are used, I could already sense how important the White Cross supplies are to the CBCHS.

The important of White Cross supplies was confirmed by Dr. Emmanuel Tambe, a leading eye surgeon in Cameroon who works at Mutengene hospital (different from the Central Pharmacy, but in the same city).  Dr. Tambe told us a story of how someone was able to afford eye surgery because the ongoing contributions from White Cross help to lower costs.  Dr. Tambe, who is a native Cameroonian, spent some time in Canada studying and teaching; his heart for God and for his people is so evident.  Picture (R-L): Keir Hammer, Dr. Tambe and the Finance Administrator at Baptist Hospital Mutengene (BHM) share a laugh.

 

White Cross Volunteers

More than 70 people joined us at Taylor on May 6th for a White Cross Dessert Night, a celebration of the work on both sides of the Atlantic that is making such a difference for people in need.

Six of those in attendance have been volunteering with White Cross for over 50 years, and a number of those in attendance have been to Cameroon. It was a joy to share photos and stories of the work of Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, and to report on the upcoming trip by three representatives of White Cross from North America.

Thanks to everyone who joined us! We hope to have another event to report on the trip to Cameroon in May 2014 -- details will be announced over the summer.

Keir Hammer and JJ Williams in BrusselsI met my counterpart, JJ Williams, from White Cross U.S.A. at the Brussels Airport today (Wednesday, May 21, 2014). JJ had flown from Texas and spent the past 26 hours travelling to Brussels. When you include the 8 hour time difference, I am surprised that he was awake at all (and we still had another 7 hours of flying ahead of us!). Tim and I had tried a different approach: we had flown into Brussels a couple of days earlier to allow ourselves some time to adjust to this part of the world. Long flights that cross multiple time zones often result in several days of “jet-lag.” We used those few days over the long weekend to take a quick tour of London, England, and also explore various parts of the Netherlands (ride the train, hop off at a city, explore some sights, hop back on the train to continue the journey).

From Brussels, we travelled together to Douala, landing in a thunderstorm around 11 pm.; It was amazing to see the Mediterranean Sea, followed by the Sahara desert, both clearly visible from 38,000 feet. Later came the greens of the equatorial region in which Cameroon is situated. Cameroon is a vibrant and engaging culture as our experience de-boarding the plane, going through customs, locating our luggage and finally exiting the airport revealed. I eagerly anticipate exploring the partnership of White Cross and the Cameroon Baptist Convention.

WiFi is very limited! We will upload pictures and share more stories as soon as we are able.