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Meanwhile in Cameroon...

posted Feb 21, 2010, 4:59 AM by Reinoud Vaandrager   [ updated Feb 24, 2010, 5:55 AM ]

Power outage

Electricity was out for almost the entire last 3 days.. I guess something got seriously broken. Incidentally the power outage happened roughly at the same time as the first rainfall I've experienced since coming to Cameroon (and there was a lot of rain, and it was good rain! :)). Anyway things seem to be back to normal again, although I must say I did like the power outage in a kind of weird way.. the entire village goes black, you light some candles and sit outside listening to the crickets. Quite relaxing!

The old peoples african cooking site

One of the projects that RUDEC runs is called the "Old People's Club" (a volunteer tried renaming it to "Senior Members Club" but that name didn't stick). Basically the old peoples club is a bunch of elderly people that come together every 2 weeks and put some money in a pot that will entirely go to one of the members by means of a draw. The winning member will use the money to help out their family in a meaningful way. There are 50 members and they all donate 25CFA (about 4 eurocents..) and the winner gets the full prize: E1,92. You should see the happiness on the faces of the winning grandma/grandpa's face ;) (They literally dance around the house!).

Because these people are dirt poor and have no pension, I was thinking of a way where I can help them generate some kind of sustainable revenue. Given my Google background, I figured I could use their knowledge of traditional cooking to create recipes, put them on a website, add AdSense and generate money from people looking for African and Cameroonian recipes on the web.

So I registered the website: for E7 per year (including hosting) using Google Apps and started collecting recipes and pictures from clubmembers. The aim is to collect around at least 50 cameroonian recipes (1 from each member) and send the monthly advertisment revenue to the club. Rob Russell (a german volunteer) was friendly enough to set up the AdSense account and link it to the RUDEC international bank account. Currently we have 7 recipes and no visitors, but hey it's a start! :)

Kicking off the Eco-tourism website:

RUDEC has long been trying to create sustainable income for the organization (to pay field worker salary) by promoting eco-tourism to the Belo area. Joshua is able to provide accommodation and guided tours/hikes to those interested.

Previous volunteers have mapped all the interesting sights in the area and created a Rudec Tourism Guide but so far had a hard time promoting it and attracting potential visitors. So just like I did with the website, I registered another site exclusively for the purpose of the eco-tourism project:

I put the RUDEC tourist guide on there, and showed Joshua and the other volunteers how to edit and add content to the site, so we will see where things will go from here. At least the word is out! :)


The computerlab is reaching the stage where it is almost complete! The only things that are still left to be done is to get a glass window, a wooden door and a light installed on the ceiling. But the rest is pretty much there! We finished the ceiling, painting, cleaned the floors, and installed furniture. As a bonus we also got a very nice bookshelf (thanks Louise and Sian!) so we also have a small paper library now with books ranging from primary class 1 up to secondary school. It is a market day today in Belo so after this post I'm going to see If I can pick up some more books! :)


painted (thanks Brynne! :))

installed! (thanks to our field workers: Sebastine (L) and Gladys (R))

We hope to formally open the lab and introduce it to our after-school kids coming tuesday, I'm sure they will love it so more to come soon! :)


Last Friday we had a beautiful sunset after a very hot day, unfortunately things were not as picturesque as I thought because when we arrived home we discovered that the hill next door was on fire! The entire evening I could hear it crackling and burning, but luckily the fire went uphill, away from our house in the valley.. phew! :)

a nice sunset.. but appearances can be deceptive..

the hill as seen from our house.. it's on fire!

Our chickens: dead.

Remember the happy story I posted around a month ago about me and Brynne raising chickens? Well the happy story turned out to have a sad ending because last Thursday we came home only to find our hen (Wendy) dead at the neighbours compound, and our cock (Peter) to be in a delusional and confused state on the way to the (chicken) hereafter...

At 1:30PM of that day our chickens were fine and frisky, I just came back from painting the computerlab at the RUDEC office and fed them some chickenfeed. When we came back at 5:30 they were both pretty much dead. How did this happen? The locals thought it was the chicken epidemic they usually have around this time but I thought this to be unlikely as the speed of death came so quickly (a mere 4 hours from super healthy to stone dead). In the end the best theory we could come up with is this:

Reinoud and Brynne went painting that morning, when we came back to our house for lunch some of the paint on our clothes had dried and paint chips started falling off on the ground. The chickens must have eaten the paint and got poisoned. We are talking about small amounts of paint, but hey it was some cheap paint locally mixed in Douala so god knows what was inside the paint...

We had no Idea what to do with 2 dead chickens.. eat them? (Brynne is vegetarian), leave them? (They would start rotting I guess...), give them away? In the end we went with the last option. Chicken is a feast for the locals and our neighbours were happy to eat it (even though it died in their compound). I'm happy to announce that the neighbours are still alive (we were afraid we might poison them as well..) so at least that is a positive note in this sad chapter of chicken raising in the life of Reinoud. Lesson learned: Don't feed chickens paint (either consiously or unconsiously). Wendy and Peter: RIP.

The Big Belo Parade

Last week was youth week in the Boyo division, so all schools were feverisly practicing for the big parade in the center of Belo (3 corners) in front of all onlookers and the mayor. At some point some small kids were performing a dance and all the officials got up walked to the little girls and started showering them in money.. strange customs these Cameroonians ;)

Part of the parade in front of the Mayor

RUDEC logo revamped.

The previous RUDEC logo for our NGO was a pathetic excuse made by someone in MS paint, In fact I felt embarrased to add it to any official documents. So I took a couple of hours to revamp the logo in the GIMP. Now we have a high resolution version with proper transparancy in full colour, grayscale and black and white:

the old logo..

and the new logo! :)