So the story ends back on a train, this time headed to Vermont, not from.
I flew back into the States a few days ago, and have been attempting to regain my bearings ever since.
The last week or so in Cameroon were as busy as could be expected. I often find that once you hit the ‘one week’ mark, you start to almost hear the seconds and minutes tick by. My ‘to do before I leave’ lists started to look a little manic and overwhelming. But, I have learned that it always does get done, even if not as gracefully as one might hope…
Amongst a myriad of loose-end tying, my last week also involved another Human Resources training, organized by CBWN (pictures found here). Food and networking followed. It was well attended, and both Marguerite and our new Hub Manager Dominique were present to ‘spread the good word’ about the Association.
I also finally completed the Vital Voices-drafted member survey. While I did not quite meet the respondent number I was hoping for, I think it is a good start and can be expanded upon as CBWN’s membership grows these next few months.
Speaking of growth, it was fascinating to witness the development of this Association, even in just the 10 weeks I was in Cameroon. With new staff members, official committees established, action plans written, and trainings attended – it is clear that this group of women (and one man) will be moving the Association forward, and at an impressive pace. I only hope I was able to contribute something of lasting value to this network of noble and admirable ambition.
I personally leave Cameroon with some rediscovered ‘joie de vivre.’ A ‘joie’ that was found amidst the humidity, the rain, the moto-taxis, the road-side beignets, and the interviewing. A ‘joie’ that was tucked in between bodies on a bus, in a cup of palm wine and most certainly enveloped in the laughter of my colleagues (now friends – sisters, even?). I came to be reminded of the real, everyday heroism that exists in the untold stories hiding in a kitchen or behind a sewing machine. I was reminded. I came to find out what can be done in the face of discrimination, hardship and a lack of resources. I found it.
There was a sign on Mt. Cameroon that said, “Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but foot prints.” I wonder what other than foot prints on Douala streets I am leaving behind. I know what I am taking with me, and it’s a great deal more than photographs. There’s the ‘joie,’ but there’s also a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the people who came into my life this summer. How can I thank Clémence, who traipsed around Douala with me for weeks on end, or who made me laugh everyday? How can I thank Frieda for inviting me to her home in Elogbatindi and taking 7 hours to braid my hair? Dominque for the philosophical discussions, and advice as to what to see and do in Douala during my visit. Marguerite for her support and enthusiasm in all things CBWN. All the members who invited me into their work places and took the time to talk to me. All the wonderful people who helped me find a cab, lead me through a market, fed me, teased me, escorted me at night – let me use their wifi (or laundry machine). How can I really thank you, all of you?
I am grateful for the summer I had. I am grateful for the people I met. And you can be sure I will continue to follow, support and spread the word about a group of women who are very much emerging from the proverbial shadows, and reminding us all what is to be a ‘femme battante.’
Posted By Joya Taft-Dick
Posted Aug 24th, 2010