Tues Mar 8
HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY!!! Wow, I thought they celebrated this well in France. I was wrong. The US is seriously missing out. Women’s day here is very big; maybe because women here need it more. In theory “women aren’t supposed to have to cook today” and are “allowed to show up in bars”, according to my profs. I must say, I did see my host dad iron his own shirt this morning.
I was thrilled to wear my women’s day “pagne” (fabric) today along with all the other Cameroonian ladies! Very nice sense of belonging. Turned down a special ticket some random-guy-I-met gave me to sit near Chantal Biya (president’s wife) to watch the Women’s Day Parade (just as well, she didn’t show) in order to….march in it! Most of we SIT gals joined in, marching with an organization called MUFFA—a microfinance NGO for women. They were a bit mean at first, bossing us into lines, but once things got rolling it was awesome. I just had the biggest grin on my face. Even just being in the streets the rest of the day was fun, because anytime I ran into a woman, we would exchange “bonne fete!”, and little kids kept giving us compliments about how pretty we looked in our pagne.
Psh, who needs Mardi Gras beads when you’ve got pagne??
Wed Mar 9
Our NGO visit today was with an environmental group—helps try to protect rights of people who live in the forest, etc, so that was pretty cool. They even gave us dried fruit that they’re in the process of trying to get fair-trade-certified (ooh! That’d be a cool ISP…note: every day I think of a cool new ISP topic. Probably I need a whole year to conduct all this research…)
After school Araba and Ellen came over to play. Okay I’m kidding, but they really did come over. For some reason I suddenly magically became the babysitter (which is mostly okay…), so while my mom’s at class I’m home with the babe. Araba and Ellen came to keep me company. Actually I’m pretty sure they just came to use my internet, but we had a lovely couple of hours together, and I made them take my braids out in exchange. Yep, I’ve got my locks and my looks back. More major hair loss. Never-have-I-ever needed to wash my hair so badly. I was so desperate I did it by flashlight—we lost power for awhile.
Thurs Mar 10
Today we visited UNICS, a MicroFinance Institute (MFI), and they gave us a pretty good presentation. I helped raise money for microcredit loans in Nicaragua last semester, so I’m definitely very interested in this (so sustainable!!). I was, in fact, planning on doing my ISP on it. Got cold feet, though and am in the works of putting something else together…I’ll keep it a surprise ‘til I know it will work!
Had to rush out at the end to head an IDI interview with the Ministry of Women & Family. Unfortunately Ellen and I overbooked—she had to go to another NGO meeting, which meant I was tackling this one by myself. That was fine, but getting there was a bit stressful; I was running late because the UNICS meeting went long, and it took me 15 minutes to find a taxi that would take me. It was also my first time taking a taxi by myself, so the combo was a bit much. I did, however, learn that if you’re willing to fork over 300 CFA (60cents) instead of 200, drivers might be more willing to lend a hand. Whew! Well, at least the interview went very smoothly. (Though I’m not exactly looking forward to transcribing the 37 minutes of French…)
Essay due tomorrow for French class over the book we’ve been reading (Je suis noir et je n’aime pas le manioc). Blah. What? This is school??
Fri Mar 11
We had our last French class, which is a strange feeling. Followed by a group discussion over the unit on NGOs we just finished.
Got a little adventurous for lunch: Araba and I made sandwiches out of bread (15 cents), avocado (20 cents), tomato (15 cents), and laughing cow cheese (two triangles = 40 cents; only reasonably priced cheese in all of Cameroon. I’m telling you, a thing of Camembert costs $13). Quite delish. Must repeat soon.
Ellen and I had an interview with an NGO and are now done collecting data for our IDI on women and work!! Plenty of work still to come, but exciting nonetheless. While we were in centreville I picked up a women’s-day-fabric dress for Manuella because Therese asked me to (little late, but oh well). Who cares? I just want to brag a bit about my “marchandag”ing skills—got the price down from 15,000 (absolutely and positively ridiculous) to 3,000.
Watched Fantastic Mr Fox on tv. Quality.
Have I mentioned my new naughty habit? I am now addicted to sneaking sugar cubes from the kitchen as a snack. What am I, six years old?