Peace Corps

March 17, 2008

“If I die tonight, I will know that I have truly lived.”
-Alyssa Poucher, PCV

March 17, 2008

I have just taken a bucket bath and I am feeling refreshed and hopeful, even excited about the future events. The most reassuring aspect of my experience, aside from the love and support I have received from a few of my close friends in my community, is realizing that I can do anything that I want- that as a volunteer, I do what I think is best, for the needs of my village but also for me. It’s not worth it to not like what you are doing here, and it’s not worth it to me to fulfill a role (teacher) that can easily be replaced by a Cameroonian. I know, I know…I am making a difference, even if I don’t see it. But I will be happier if I can see it more clearly. I will teach much less next year, and I will spend more of my energy and time on projects that I feel will make more of a difference. This means that in 6 weeks when classes are over, I will start living on another side of volunteer life.

At the same time, I would like to say that to any volunteer who stuck it out for 6 months or more and decided to early terminate their service, you are not a failure; in fact you are brave for having lived this life, giving it a chance, and stepping up to the plate to fulfill your own happiness. To anyone of my mates that step up to that plate in the future, I think no different of you. Nothing will change that you have lived through this.

I went to Bangou for a funeraille this weekend. It was fantastic. We danced, drank wine and ate great food with the grands in the village. In the West, it is tradition to fire guns in the air during a funeral ceremony, which was a bit scary but we survived it. It was difficult to explain to my dad when he called that I was at a funeral when there was loud music being played and where people were laughing and carrying, but that is just the tradition. A funeraille is to celebrate the life of that person. It is a very joyful festivity, and provides the family with closure. Aledgi’s father, whose wife’s death we celebrated, apparently was very sick to the point that his children all came to say goodbye to him, but then by some miracle he survived his sickness. At the funeral, he looked old and tired. He was crying as he watched the waves of people dance and sing in the honor of his spouse. He said that now that they had had the funeraille, he, too, was ready to leave.

Interesting how life and death parallel. Perhaps if I knew there was no end, I would not do any of the things that have deemed my life beautiful, unique and interesting. I hope that if my adventure ever came to an end, that my family and friends would celebrate also the life that I lived, and with a reassurance that I had lived my life exactly the way I wanted to.

Sammy has been out on her own this weekend, and she has just come into the house to welcome me back. She’s especially happy with the fish bones in her bowl. The chickens chirp (and poo…. A lot) and the weather is gorgeous. I could pretend that it was Fall right now, if there were more than two seasons here. I am going to read and relax a while before Franck returns and we dispute what we should eat. He likes most American food as it is introduced to him slowly, but he prefers Cameroonian food ofcourse. He calls oatmeal “little pieces of paper”, even though he likes to eat it when there’s a good amount of chocolate and sugar in his bowl and he gave me funny, grossed out looks all through making some tomato soup, but then found he wanted second servings after all. He is such a funny, brilliant kid.

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.