Field Notes, Photoggling

How to Feed the Future Pt. 5: Field Trip to Meng

In order to inspire my women and expand their world, I decided to take them out of village on a field trip to Meng, where another volunteer had also implemented a gardening project on a much bigger scale.

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Exploring the gardens.

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Chatting with another gardener and our wonderful host, Holly.

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Green peppers!

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Cameroonian-style photo.

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Smiling.

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I’m an expert at not smiling.

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Cheesing with the squad.

After the tour, we then spent the afternoon talking about nutrition, how to make banana bread, and how to make soy milk and tofu.

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Group discussion during a competition to see who could come up with the greatest number of well-balanced meals.

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Banana bread.

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The tofu captain! (We had a nearby shop owner come and show how he and his family makes tofu and soy milk.)

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This is a dutch oven (or how we bake things here).

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Adding vinegar-the acidity helps the tofu to clump. (Fun fact: also works with milk if you want to make cheese.)

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My counterpart butting in in front of Holly in order to be in the picture

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Team Ngatt.

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Field Notes, Photoggling

How to Feed the Future, Pt. 2: Transplanting

While nurseries are great for the young, there comes a time when one must leave kindergarten and start taking on the real world. Fortunately in gardening, there is plenty of advice and rules out there in order to assure the plants will survive the shock and begin to thrive in their new environment.

First, transplant in the evening. It gives the plants the time to find their footing (re-root?) before another hot day.

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Burning the bed in order to help sanitize. (Not always necessary when transplanting, but super important when creating a nursery). 

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Watering. 

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Mixing up the soil to prepare for the plants.

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Creating a measuring stick for spacing.

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Spacing out the rows. 

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Carefully breaking apart the plants. NOTE: Keep some of the old soil on the plants so they retain some of their former environment, which eases the transition.

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Not a plant. 

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Carefully scooping under the plants in order to assure that they retain some of the old environment and that roots are not damaged while moving. 

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Situating the plant in the ground. 

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Re-emphasizing the importance of scooping under. 

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More children. 

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Almost done. 

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Field Notes

Inch by Inch

Last July, after returning from a Home Gardening and Nutrition training in Ebolowa, I had a week of farewell parties for volunteers who were returning and then an awkward ten days before I could head back to Yaoundé before heading to Paris. It was one of the longest and slowest ten days at post because a) it was raining and b) since I knew I was leaving, I did not want to focus on starting any big projects that I would inevitably have to restart. And so I floated around, reading and drinking tea.

One day, feeling especially stir-crazy, I went and visited my counterpart Janette, who was extremely excited to show me the nursery she had made, utilizing the skills she had learned at the training a couple weeks ago. More importantly, she was more than ready to teach the other women what she had learned. (I felt like such a buzzkill, telling her to wait until dry season.) And thus, another idea was planted: creating a women’s gardening group. We decided that while I was away, she would gather a small group of women and I would start writing a grant for the project.

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Madame Janette and her nursery.

But writing a grant is not as straightforward as it seems…

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Even though it didn’t go as planned, I am still extremely grateful that the staff tried to get my grant through before the end of the fiscal year.

More importantly (and the reason I am writing this post), the grant has been approved this past week! (As it turns out, I did not have to wait too much longer after all. Inshallah the rainy season finishes and the money arrives to my account soon so we can get started.)

To the coming dry season, may it be filled with veggies and far less travel back-n-forth than before!

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Photoggling

Home Gardening & Nutrition Training: Ebolowa, Sud

Curious as to why I have internet this week? More importantly, where in Cameroon I was? No fear, answers below.

This past week, there was a training on Home Gardening and Nutrition. So I, two other health volunteers, ten agriculture volunteers and thirteen counterparts went back to the motherland, Ebolowa. Aside from a few PST flashbacks, it was nice being back in the South again.

Day 1: Home Gardening

(All photos courtesy of PCVL Joe Natividad)

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My counterpart breaking up chicken poop, which is used to fertilizer the bed for the transplant.

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Me and my counterpart mixing the chicken poop into the soil.

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Spacing out the future homes for the transplants.

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Burning the bed in order to sanitize the soil for the nursery.

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Transplanting.

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Day 2 & 3: Nutrition

(Photos courtesy of myself)

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My counterpart, Jeannette, and I. NOTE: This pose is really popular in my village. I still have yet to figure out why.

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Peeling garlic during a cooking demonstration.

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Cooking Amaranthe, one the extremely nutritious leaves that people eat fairly often in my village.

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Sauté-ing onions in palm oil

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Sporadic yoga session with counterparts and trainers

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Surprisingly really good at yoga for someone who doesn’t do yoga

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Everyone wanted to do yoga.

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(Note to self: work on yoga with Jeannette when we get back)

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Another cooking demo, this time? Gumbo (okra)

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Pouring the finished gumbo, nice and slimy, comme toujours

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Turning the couscous

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Finished couscous. Ready to be eaten with gumbo.

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My counterpart receiving her certificate of completion

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Shaking hands with Tiki

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She was pretty excited

 

 

 

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Field Notes, Photoggling

Bamenda, Round II: Nutrition Training

This past week, my counterpart, Agathe, and I headed to Bamenda for a training on nutrition, more specifically on the “First 1000 Days” program or what should be given to a baby or a child during the first couple years of life.  Although learning about exclusive breastfeeding and complementary foods is not exactly new at this point, it is always good to review. More importantly, my counterpart was able to meet other PCVs and their counterparts, especially important since Ngatt is still new to Peace Corps, and exchange ideas.

On the third day, we met in small groups in order to discuss how we could improve nutrition in our village, when met back up, Agathe turns to me and ask “On fait comment?” (How can we do this? Or literally, What does one do?”). Yowah. Motivated with a better understanding of Peace Corps’ mission all in the matter of three days. I told her we could implement similar projects in Ngatt. Reassured, she turned back to the presenter, taking careful notes.

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View from the hotel. Peace Corps seems to only stay in one hotel in Bamenda. 

 

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Redesigning fatherhood with some group work. Prompt: “Show how a father can help when his child is sick.” 

 

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I thought we had agreed that we were both going to imitate the archer in this photo. 

 

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My counterpart Agathe. 

 

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Nous sommes ensemble. 

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