Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Beep Your Horn for HIV Prevention (AKA Show me the money)

I'm working with other volunteers in the West Province on an HIV/AIDS education conference next month. We're targeting motorcycle taxi drivers. Moto drivers are usually young men (20s to early 30s) who make up a sizable portion of the population and have unfettered access to the people of the village/town/city. This mobile population is highly implicated in both the transmission and prevention of HIV, and yet it is often overlooked when it comes to HIV prevention education. Imagine doing a nation-wide college lecture circuit on the dangers of binge drinking... but not inviting any of the frat houses to attend.

Anyway, if you'd like more information about the project or to make a donation (any small amount would be hugely appreciated) then just follow this link to the donation form.

Also if you guys could, in the comments section, mention that you saw this on jimeroon.blogspot.com so I can properly thank you guys after all the money is in. Thanks again and God bless you all.

PS - To all Brownings and Carpluks and their respective offshoots - Now's your chance to prove just how much you love me. I promise that the aunt/uncle/cousin/grandparent who donates the most will become my favorite family member. And I'll visit you when you're old and boring and we can talk about the humidity and how kids today don't know how good they've got it.

And if it's my parents then I'll just continue to be an unwavering source of pride and all-around perfect son. Dad, remember how you'd always make me finish my dinner because of the starving kids in Africa? Well guess what, those starving kids grew up. And now they're giving each other HIV. Here's our chance to help.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Get excited, Ma. Two posts in one month.

A couple funny things happened to me this weekend so I thought I'd share them here. I went to a wedding on Saturday night with Cook and had a blast. So I didn't know about the wedding until before we left, so I show up wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. Ultra classy, I know. I don't think they took it as an affront, though. I say this because when we arrived at around 9 PM, we were seated right next to the groom and his blushing bride. And I mean that literally, the bride looked very young and very nervous. Happy, though.

So we're talking and enjoying the traditional group dances by the women folk and just having an all around good time. Neither of us had eaten dinner and we were both starved by the time they brought out the tables. We were served at around 10:30 (Only the bride and groom ate before us) and it was an absolute FEAST. The groom is a private chef and homeslice went all Wolfgang Puck on the situation. Apparently most of the fare was Brazilian, but it all struck me as very German... So yeah take from that what you will.

After the delicious Ger-zilian fare, two women came out and started to clear all the plates and empty cups and such. The groom comes over to me and very proudly tells me that the two women clearing the table were his first two wives. I'm sorry but that &%$# is funny to me. This is far from my first interaction with polygamy in Cameroon and I'm not trying to speak out against it. I'm just tickled at the idea of having to bus tables at your husband's third wedding. Do you think he tipped? Seriously though, polygamy is a common enough practice in Cameroon and I'm past the point where I'll try and speak out against it. It's just a cultural thing. Besides, I don't really need to try and turn people away from it. Polygamy has its own inherent punishment. Two wives! Hiyooooo!*

The other thing I wanted to write about were these bootleg DVDs that they sell here in Bamenda. They sell all kinds of TV show seasons (mostly dramas, American comedy doesn't always translate well) and tons of DVDs with 40-50 full length movies compressed onto them. Interestingly enough, a lot of them are advertised as being printed on TDK brand DVDs. For those of you that don't know, that's my Dad's old company. Unsurprisingly, none of the TDK DVDs I've bought have actually worked. The best part of these things though is that they all come from China and have little blurbs and stuff on the back in horribly engrish. Check out this description of Season 6 of Friends:

Ross and Rachel get up last night after the marriage completely forgotten the absurd things. Breakfast, ask friends, the two waken ip from their dream, decide to settle in New York after the abolition of marriage. Rachel Ross Please rest assured that the matter would be entirely his dishes, but he has gone back on his word. Germany, and Monica all the money for their own marriage he, Lanshan, but not exports. If the combination of the two is predestined, and there should be signs? Sign one after another, but they still refuses to recognize life. Finally money Talk proposed cohabitation. Joey Fabian took over the food supply trucks, Fabian convince motorists to go home with him. He promised trip will be fun, but Along the way, most of the time he fell asleep.

I want to send all of my future blog posts to this company so they can translate them into Chinese and then back into this Engrish mess.

Next time, on Jim's Peace Corps Blog: Foreword to an International Incident!

Africa long time has kept Jameson Whiskey back and forth between his villagers. But this weekend beach plans for golfing because a break needed is what he has. After returns, Jim begins to finish school his students study but fare well on the exams will they? Who could tell. He plans to Europe with Jessica parents this summer coming, but firstly helps with training he will be Peace Corpse 2009.


But yeah so I'm taking the weekend off to release some stress and see the Southwest again. I'll let you know how that plays out but I probably wouldn't expect another update until April. Go Heels!

*Did I already make that joke on this blog? Perhaps. But hey it's a classic.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You can't make this stuff up. (Also a note to the Newcomers)

First things first: A handful of you folks coming in on the new stage in June 2009 have contacted me through my blog here and there. I'm more than willing to help you out as much as I'm able. Problem is, if you contact me through the blog, I have no way of getting back to you. So drop me a line at jrb.pcv@gmail.com so I can reply back to you. If you've already asked me a question, shoot it over to my email so I can get back to you directly. Thanks and get excited, Cameroon is an awesome country.

Now for a little mini-update: I don't know what it is, but for some reason strange things always happen to me when I'm trying to bathe au Cameroun. As you probably already know, I'm without running water. As a result, I get mon eau by sending kids out with these big yellow jugs that I have to fetch it from a source of which I'd probably rather remain ignorant. Case in point: the other day my buddies Boris and Jordan come back with two bidongs full of water. I give them a bit of food money and send them off. After locking up I fill up my bucket with water and disrobe for a bucket bath. I start singing showtunes and dip my hands in the bucket to commence when what do I see...

A prodigious pack of polliwogs. There had to be a dozen or two tadpoles just loving life in my bathtub. After months of bush taxis* and Cameroonian "customer service," my threshold for annoyance has reached a level previously unheard of for a Browning male. All I could do is laugh. In June, or maybe even in August I would have tossed the water. But the sun was going down and I felt particularly grimy that day, so I just fished the little buggers out and lathered up. C'est la vie.

In case you were wondering, all tadpoles are currently alive and thriving in a water bottle out in my backyard. I'm hoping to farm them and grow them into frogs big enough to eat. Am I kidding? I might be kidding. (I'm not kidding).

*Part 2: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Mbouda

Okay so I guess this update isn't going to be as mini as I thought. But I figured you'd enjoy this story too, if only out of schadenfreude.

So I'm making my merry way to Mbouda to pick up some odds and ends. The taxi I took was particularly packed. Four up front including the driver, six in the back including myself. Two were about 10 or 11 years old sitting on their mother's laps. The smell of palm wine or raffia or whatever was pungent... It stung the nostrils. I'm not gonna lie it smelled like pure gasoline. Actually, that's inaccurate. Raffia/palm wine smells like a mixture of gasoline, rotten salad dressing, and body odor. Although that last bit may have just been the bouquet of the nine perspiring Cameroonians in the car with me. Regardless of its source, the smell of this vehicle was... incapacitating.

Anyway, I'm sitting with a tissue over my nose trying to filter out the funk, when I look to my right and see the woman next to me holding on to four thumb-sized beetles, squirming feebly in her grasp. I'm not exaggerating about how huge they were either. If beetles had theme parks, these guys would have been "This Tall!" enough to ride the roller coasters. So being a total schmuck, I venture to ask the woman "Ces sont pour qoui?" (Basically 'what the hell are you going to do with those?!" in my awful French) She laughs at me, picks out out one of the four (who we'll call Kenny) and bites the poor bastard in half. I sat there with my jaw dropped and my stomach turning while the rest of women in the back seat just laughed at me.

I really thought I'd vomit. Stan, Kyle, and Cartman were still squirming away, the oppressive heat, the smell of rancid Hidden Valley ranch in the air... But somehow I kept it together and did my best to laugh along at my naivete with the mamas.

The kid sitting on his mother's lap to my left wasn't so lucky.

I've seen projectile vomit in my day. I mean, I went to college. I did my share of binge drinking. I've seen acts of regurgitation that were worthy of note. Remember the time Veliz puked on our rug sophomore year and I had to cut a 2'x2' hole out of the middle of it with a pocket knife? Well, little homie to my left put Danny Boy to shame. This was straight Exorcist stuff right here. Sparing you all the details, the shear volume and velocity of this kid's emission had just about everybody in the damn vehicle sporting some spew. I mean everybody. I'm pretty sure some got in the glove box, don't ask me how. How this didn't start one of those epic "Oh-my-god-he-just-puked-now-I'm-gonna-puke-oh-my-god-now-he's-puking-now-we're-all-puking" scenes is beyond me. We pulled over and cleaned ourselves off as best as we could with twigs and grass and stuff.

At this point I was pretty much done with the expedition. I decided to just hoof it back home. It took me about an hour to walk it, and I was pretty tired by the time I got back. It had been a really hot day and I probably walked 3-4 miles back home in the noon heat. All I wanted was a glass of water. Of course, however, my water filter was empty. So in my exhaustion, I had to hump it out back and fill it up with some of my reserve water. I carry the filter back into the kitchen, and it just so happened that I took a peek inside before I put the cover back on.

It was full of tadpoles.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Fresh Air Fund

A representative from the Fresh Air Fund asked me to write a blog about the programs they offer and the need for hosts, staff members, camp counselors etc. which I am more than happy to. (even though I copied most of it off their website). I was first introduced to the program when a neighbor hosted a child through the Fresh Air Host Fund Family. There are several other programs that Fresh Air organizes, here's some information about that you might find of interest:

Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend one of five Fresh Air Fund camps.

Each summer, 3,000 children enjoy themselves at one of the five Fresh Air camps in upstate New York. They are now accepting applications for counselors for this coming summer of '09. They hire staff members with a wide range in some pretty amazing fields. Fresh Air Fund is looking for college-aged men and women who love to work with children.

For more information please visit this website