First Days in Cameroon

Betsy and I left home on 26SEPT. Dr. King took us to the airport, and we flew out on Air France to Paris, with an eight-hour stopover, and then on to N’Djamena, Chad. Adama picked us up at the airport and drove us to the guest house, that had not quite prepared for our arrival. We made do and were able to leave by road to Meskine the next day, driven by Adama. The roads had multiple large potholes, yet Adama still drove at roughly 60-80 mph, the exact speed not known since the speedometer constantly read “0”.  One of our four boxes had not arrived, though we were assured that it would be in several days, and promptly delivered to us. On 30SEPT, I started working in the OR. It is much different than in Bangladesh, in that the surgeon does very little ward care, but spends most of his time in the OR suite, or seeing consults. It will take me a few days to get used to things. The workers all speak a little English, and I spent much of my time speaking German with the other Surgeon, Carsten, who is from Leipzig.
02OCT, our final box arrived, missing only a few items, such as Clorox wipes, which we can survive without. Surgery has been busy, with a few very odd cases. One was a 12 yo boy, gored by a bull, coming in several days later (how many, we don’t know), and his only injury was a complete division of his common bile duct. We did a Roux-en-Y reconstruction, but he died later that night. There are too many other cases to talk about, and I’m sure you’re not interested, so, we’ll let it slide.
10OCT, we had a fairly busy week at the hospital but were able to relax on the weekend. All is going well. I haven’t taken too many photographs, and I am not getting out of the compound too often. The US State Dept. informed us of a cholera epidemic in town, though we will still go in to eat tonight. It is a bit harder than Bangladesh to acclimatize to the heat, and I’m not sure exactly why. Otherwise, save for a bout of travelers’ diarrhea which resolved quickly in both Betsy and me, all is going well.  A few days later, we spent with Carsten and Annette on the river flowing through Moroua. This river is now just a stream but will fill its banks at some times of the year, and in a month, will be completely dry.

The main church in Meskine has about 100 adult members, and though the church starts at 8 o’clock and lasts until 10:30 AM, most people arrive between 8 and 9 am, filtering in slowly, and sitting with their own people group. The various groups are then invited sequentially to sing a song for the remainder of the folk, including a time for us white people, who usually sing in French some hymn.

Notice, the Christmas decorations remain, like in Bangladesh. Our house is quite nice, and here are some photos.

Yes. The bed has mosquito netting. No mosquito bites at night. The main crop in this area is Millet, which looks a bit like corn.

Firewood also is in huge demand, as they prefer firewood over natural gas, even though firewood is more expensive than gas!  Getting photos in the community has been a serious problem, because, unlike Bangladesh where everybody fought to have you take their photo, the natives will turn and run if you get out your camera. Both situations below witnessed this happen…

Here is the whole missionary group at Annette’s birthday party, with real ice cream made from powdered milk!!!! …

We’re having a good time, and feeling like we are contributing a bit to the entire effort. More to follow…
P.S. Aren’t you glad I didn’t include any political discussion. Though we’ve stayed in touch with American and World news, and watched the Stalk Market (sic!) and price of gold fluctuate, it seems a touch removed from us, where our patients simply are wondering if they will have food for the next day. We have much to be thankful for, in spite of our national distresses. The next few years are going to be time to re-think the real battles that face us, and hopefully, they are not simply battles for peace, security, and prosperity, as the end result will probably be the opposite of what we seek. Fortunately, Betsy and I have had time to read and think and talk, and it has helped in keeping us on track together about our goals for the coming few years, as I return to work.