Cameroon / Life / Peace Corps / Volunteering

Embrace

A world full of feeling makes it impossible. -Bradford Melius, PCV

Days like this I don’t want to give up to tomorrow, because everything could change by then. When the weeks start to run together and all you have to divide the chapters of time are your emotions that turn about, one way or another, up or down, you try your best to cling on to the good ones. There is a fine line between the focus on what you are accomplishing and what seems unfixable here. My life is a constant evaluation of what I am able to give of myself, and what I am not able to give of myself. It is a line between inevitable guilt and grand purpose.

A cultural assembly took place at my school today, where all of the school clubs presented themselves, including my English Club. It would have normally become a very long day -until the food and drinks were brought out- but I spent some time with Sintia, my counterpart- my fellow female English teacher, who is Anglophone and voluntarily single, which are all aspects I absolutely love about her. In fact, I don’t know that I even know of any men that would be able to open their hearts up as wide as hers seems to be; I was comfortably pleased with our friendship when she paid for a taxi ride home when I did not have change, and then called me (which is more expensive than a text) just to make sure that I arrived home safely. It feels so much sometimes as if everyone who befriends me expects so much from me, that it becomes me doing all the giving and them all the taking. I am definitely more aware and cautious of others that approach me in my current situation. So it’s extremely nice when you find those few that take you for who you are and have a desire to give to you, too.

Before the cultural assembly, I was urged to take on three additional hours of teaching for another class. Three hours in addition to what I’m already struggling with, and soon to be having secondary projects to work on. When I said no, I was told that I should re-think about it…but I also was given a large guilt trip about being the last hope, with such a need for teachers and with all of the struggles that we face here in Africa. I should not have had to negotiate my sanity with him, but there I was explaining why I could not volunteer myself more. Yune once told me, “We are volunteers, not slaves…don’t let anyone make you do anything you don’t want to do”, and I think I needed someone to say it out loud so that the thought would come to me in times like these.

After the assembly, I went en ville and Sintia helped me get my wicker cane furniture into a taxi. When I arrived back to village, there were six petits waiting to run up to the taxi and carry the furniture inside. Each one of them anxiously wanted to work for me, pointing out everything in the house that was unclean and disorderly. I didn’t mind much because I knew they were right. So I found myself giggling as I looked around and saw six children perfectly content to wash the floors, wash laundry, clean dishes and take the trash out. I asked my landlady at the boutique in front of my house, is this normal? She responded with a question: “They would be there with you, wouldn’t they?” And so that is how I gained six little friends, and my very own personal care takers. I even got some grading finished while they were here, cooking beans and rice (the beans were a gift from one student). My house now smells of rice- a sweet, homey, aroma that I always associate with the Abrils’. I’m reminded that if you embrace the community, they will embrace you back…or that if you just come to your door, there is usually someone there that would like to come in….and no matter how I’m feeling, it could be the best thing sometimes just to open it up wide and see what happens, because feelings change.

About Tara

Tara received her degree in French and Communications before jetting off to serve Cameroon for 2 years with the Peace Corps. She has forever since been inspired to serve in humanitarian projects around the world. She's a writer, tour guide, business owner, property manager, wifey, dog mom, and traveler. Tara lives in Dallas, Texas, where she's happily married to the tech genius who keeps her website pretty.