Sorry for the late post, my limited internet ran out so I had to wait until Monday for the store to open.
This was written Thursday October 7th.

Over the weekend I had heard news that “Over twenty students at GHS Buea Town had collapsed!” I thought, what on earth could have made more than twenty students randomly collapse all around the same time? I realized that I have really spent a fair amount of time in Cameroon and Africa in general because the first thing that came to my head was… Witchcraft. Yes, witchcraft. You think I’m crazy right? Well people here will think you are crazy for not believing. Cameroon is comprised of more than 260 different tribal/ethnic groups who each have their own dialects and traditional ceremonies and characteristics. Some are more likely to use witchcraft than others. When I arrived to the school in Buea Town on Monday to collect the curriculum booklets for corrections, my students had confirmed my assumptions… Indeed it was witchcraft that caused the children to collapse. No one knows who or why someone would have done that but it happened. I know there are those on the other side of the world who are in disbelief and maybe even in outright laughter after reading this; but always remember to respect other cultures, beliefs and traditions – there will always be something we don’t understand and can’t make sense of, that’s what makes life interesting :!!     As I mentioned in previous posts, I really want the students to ‘think outside the box’ this year and come up with some very new and original topics for research and advocacy. To help encourage this and to maybe give some insight on some ‘out of the box’ ideas, I had 4 guest speakers come to and speak with the students about what they are doing here in Cameroon and what problems they are helping to “justify” here in their own community.    

Mark from Ireland is a lawyer and is currently volunteering for an NGO called Human IS Right (which has it’s much larger sister organization in Kumba [city approx 1hr North of Buea] called Global Conscious Initiative). He addressed the problems he sees at the prison where he spends most of his time: unjustified prison sentences and underage prisoners. He also did work during the last elections and touched on corruption and transparency in elections. Their newest project will be focusing on women’s rights, specifically dealing with land rights. This is a major problem here because if fore say a women was widowed, all of her deceased husband’s land wouldn’t necessarily be left for her.     

Fiona from the UK addressed the most common health issues she sees as a nutritionist working at 7th day Adventist Hospital in Buea. These issues mostly stem from a poor diet and little/no exercised and include diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure and obesity. There are two major causes of those diseases here which are Maggi and the insane amount of oil (usually palm oil) that is used to prepare every dish.    

Jenny (pictured below) from Canada is doing her PhD research in Cameroon and she is focusing on Gender and Water. She was here for 6-months in 2012-2013 and is back for follow up. The kids loved her especially because her Pidgin-English is so good. She really engaged the children and provoked a lot of critical thinking. She raised points that are obvious, such as the fact that it is mostly women who use water but it is usually men who hold positions of authority to make decisions about that water, and you could see something click in the students’ head as if they had never seen it as a problem before.    

The final speaker was Grace, a local empowered and energetic Cameroonian. She is doing her masters at UB in International Relations but spoke more on gender issues and  gender rolls. She hosts her own youth radio show encouraging and teaching them how to use social media to promote democracy and good governance in their community. These last two topics brought great discussions.    

To sum it up: On one hand, people who believe a women’s ‘place’ here is in the kitchen usually see it as tradition. On the other hand, this is an ever changing world with ever changing circumstances. There are many countries that used to have the same view as most of Africa does now (relating to a woman) but there are so many places that have seen an exponential growth in women’s rights, empowerment, independence and an all around change in attitude towards what a woman can/cannot should/should not do.     

I let the Advanced YAN students who attended the club hours to practice their camera/photography skills
by taking pictures of the guest speakers and the class. Unfortunately not many of the photos came out well.
I could only use the two. A review of photography is something I've added to their curriculum for the year.

In Buea Town we went to the cyber (a place to use internet) so that they could set up email addresses!! Most students wanted to use Yahoo as opposed to Google. After about 3 student successfully made email addresses, Yahoo just stopped working. Students would fill out all of their information correctly then when they would go to verification page, it just wouldn’t verify. I am certain that we typed in the correct visual verification code more than 5 times on 4-6 different students’ computers but none of them would pass. Charles (the owner/manager of the cyber who is very helpful and nice) said that Yahoo was ‘too congested’ and it would be better to move to Gmail.    

After about another 4-5 students set up emails with Gmail, we hit another problem. Gmail began asking for cell phone verification in addition to visual verification. It was extremely frustrating because there was one phone in the class – mine and it only allowed maybe 5 verification codes. Needless to say, not all students were able to make their email address. The power also went out mid-class for 5 min and we had to reboot all the computers up. In the end, about 6 students still need to sign up their emails. Next week we will return to the cyber to finish email addresses and begin the lessons on writing emails and learning how to navigate their email. I am not too sure how we will register email addresses without a phone number but where there is a will there is a way!