Life in Cameroon: a volunteer point of view

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Many could think that volunteer’s life in Africa is probably the harshest of all and that they have almost no such amenities as people have in the so called developed world, such as computer and internet.

This is not the case for volunteer Tracy E. Longacre. In fact she updates regularly two blogs and a Flickr photostream   from Cameroon.

Africanews.it interviewed her via email on 7th July 2008

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What do you do in Cameroon?

I am working (or I have been, I’m actually in the process of leaving) as a VSO (www.vso.co.uk) volunteer. I am attached to a local NGO – a network of local civil society organizations called the North West Association of Development Organisations (NWADO). I am doing organizational development, capacity building (aka training/consulting) and facilitating various processes.

How do you live there?

I live in a 2 bedroom house that is probably what might be considered “middle class” by local standards – I have running water (when it is running!) and electricity and indoor plumbing and an actual kitchen with a refrigerator and a cooker & propane tank. Many Cameroonians, who are poorer (shopkeepers, women who sell vegetables, etc.) live in houses with no indoor plumbing and a traditional (wood fire) kitchen, though pretty much everyone in town has electricity. And often a TV, a stereo, a VCD player are much higher on the list of priorities than something like indoor plumbing or a proper kitchen.
 
camerun-tracy%20e.%20longacre.01How did you find a job in Cameroon?

I didn’t find a job in Cameroon per se. I applied to VSO for a volunteer position and did indicate that I had a strong preference to go to Africa. After a lengthy interview process I was offered two positions to choose from and then I “applied” for the one I thought I was best suited for. They accepted me and then I received training from VSO both before I arrived and after I came to Cameroon.
 
How’s life in your city and in Cameroon, generally?

How is life here? Great. Most Africans will always tell you that life is great (in my experience)! Bamenda is in the North West Province which is Anglophone, a minority in a predominantly Francophone country. It is also the seat of the political opposition, so the Province is generally neglected by a very centralized government. In many countries this wouldn’t be particularly relevant to the local person, but in a very centralized system, it makes quite a difference to people’s day-to-day lives.

 

Photo: Tracy Longacre Flickr’s photostream and anika.elizabeth on Panoramio 

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