Our last trek of the week was to the villages of Baichi and Mughef . Once there, we met up with Project Hope volunteer, Ndiwum Chrysanthus Ngeh. This is his village, he knows the people here and has begun to identify vulnerable children who will benefit from A Call to Mercy’s program with Project Hope. These villages cross small creeks and bridges that can only be reached by foot. We parked the bike and trekked. It is a beautiful place, mountains in the tropics. Because it’s the dry season there is always a haze caused by the Harmattan dry winds blowing across the Sahara Desert. We love trekking in these hills and mountains, walking the paths that these people walk. Being on foot, we feel more connected to this place. Alongside the extreme poverty and the lack of development you find a people very connected to the land. Most people here plant some if not all of their own food. They eat what grows in their environment. They waste nothing. They use their natural environment in ingenious ways. At one home, we were gifted with a 6ft stick of sugar cane, looks much like a thick bamboo stick. In order to take it on the motor bike, it was broke in half and tied onto the bike with a strip of dried leaf from a palm tree. I’ve seen children take the same strips of dried leaves and tie together for a jump rope. We in the West could learn from them., how to come back to the land. As always the families we visited were humble and welcoming.
We traveled by motor bike with Project Hope Staff, Jean Bernard, for approximately 40 minutes to a remote village high in the mountain. There we were met by Francis Fungwi, a volunteer with Project Hope who lives in this village. We trekked with him to a compound looking for one child, Carine, who was known to them because of her HIV status. She had not been seen at the hospital for a few months for her meds and they wanted to check on her. When we arrived, there were 9 children living there, most looking malnourished and some very ill. Hopefully, they were convinced to come to the hospital clinic tomorrow for treatment. The families often will default on treatment because they cannot afford the required labs every 6 months, because of the long trek to pick up their meds, and also because they may get here and there are no meds which are gotten free from the government. Distribution is not always reliable. Project Hope does their best to educate people on the extreme importance of keeping up with their health visits, especially for the children.
We went on several more home visits today with Project Hope to meet and interview parents and caregivers whose children may be eligible for the Orphan and Vulnerable Children project. These visits are not scheduled so we often take the parent or caregiver by surprise. The first thing you hear is “you are welcome”. Then we are invited inside and the mother or caregiver scurries for stools, wipes them off and offers us a seat. All before knowing why we are there. Project Hope Staff speak to the mother/caregiver, observe the condition of the child and the home, check the health books and complete the program paperwork. We engage with the children and caregiver as well. The children sit quietly while the adults talk. They are often shy but so well behaved and well mannered. We continue to be humbled by the warmth and beauty of the people here.
Today we met with Sr. Rose, Director of Project Hope and Macdonald Yengong, Head of HIV/AIDS Unit for Project Hope. We will visit more villages this week and continue our work with Project Hope and the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Project. We are learning so much here and are humbled and enriched by the warmth and resiliency of the people of Cameroon. Click on any image to go to Gallery mode.