One of the projects that United Action for Children runs here in Buea, as well as in Mamfe (near the border with Nigeria), is called the Sports for Development Project. It involves organized football (soccer, if you’re North American) matches in the villages outside of town, and thematic discussions, etc. I said in my last post that drinking beer is pretty much a national pastime for Cameroonians; football is nearly a religion. I have never in my life seen so many people wearing football jerseys as I have here in Cameroon. FIFA paid for uniforms for each village team, and there are both men’s and women’s teams in each place. All you need to do to gather a crowd in Cameroon is take a football and kick it back and forth once or twice before you’ve got yourself enough people for a match, and a crowd of spectators to watch, sort of like those old Out of the Blue ads that Labatt beer used to run in Canada with the street hockey games in downtown Toronto.
This guy wasn’t quite eager enough to go outside, but couldn’t resist watching from his house:
A few spectators in Bokwai, one of the smaller villages:
The girls play hard, and part of that road, including the ditch between the grass and the road, is officially part of the football field! Look carefully at their feet and let me know if you see something you wouldn’t likely see in a football match in Canada or Europe.
Another project run by UAC is the Disability Project. This used to involve finding young local disabled people who could benefit from medical procedures, and helping arrange such procedures with funding from organizations in the West. This, however, required a great deal of time on the part of Mr Orock Thomas, the founder of UAC, who simply can’t find the time to do everything under the sun. So, for the time being, that aspect of the Disability Project (with one very notable exception in the form of a tiny little girl with rickets, which will be the subject of another post of its own) is on hold until we can get another local staff member to take over the role of mediator.
What the Disability Project currently consists of, is helping a local group of disabled people who have formed their own group called Eyole, numbering about 15 villagers from the different villages around Buea. They have various ideas for becoming self-sustaining, their ultimate goal, including weaving baskets to sell at market and to local hotels and individuals. Disabled people are really not treated very well here, and any disability is assumed to be the result of witchcraft. No matter how hard any of us tries to explain the simple scientific explanation for rickets or various other disability conditions here, few people are willing to accept that witchcraft played no part, even educated people and many members of the UAC staff and family itself!
Petra and I took a long trip to Ediki to buy canes for Dan, a blind man, to weave baskets. These are the canes:
This is how we got them back to Buea on the 2hrs+ drive home:
And this is what they become. Dan is in yellow and Molua, president of the Eyole group, is on the left:
Random photo – Cameroonian car wash (they’re all like this)
One day we took all the vocational students (they study woodwork, painting, electrical work, building, etc) to the beach in Limbe, and of course after some swimming the activity of choice quickly changed to a beach football match with the volunteers and drivers playing as well.
I couldn’t play, of course, due to my recurring dislocation/subluxing of my left kneecap, but I enjoyed taking a few photos, such as when Bram scored this goal: