A few weeks ago, I received an email from a lady who work with l’AESCO, a French NGO whom I’ve contacted about book donation for our library project. She said would be in Yaounde for a few days around the 15th and wanted to meet with me. Just so happen that I was suppose to attend a meeting in the Capital on the 15th with the umbrella organization of my microfinance institution. I wasn’t going to attend because it was the last week of my business class, and I wanted to be there for the “graduation”. But everything eventually worked out because my students protested to have the graduation moved when I announced my pending absense. So, I got to go to my meetings, and still take part in handing out the certificates for my students!
Anyway, back to the meeting. Monday of the week I was traveling to the Capital, I emailed the lady with my contact information and the exact time that I would be free. Still nothing. I became rather disappointed thinking perhaps the meeting won’t take place after all. Then, 6:30am on the day of the meeting, I got a call from her. Still asleep, I jumped out of bed and took the call, mustering what French I could during my half asleep mode. She wanted to meet that day. So we arranged a time to meet at the University of Yaounde. I couldn’t tell before if she is Cameroonian or French, but after a 6:30am call, it was clear – definitely a Cameroonian! It still amazes me that I get calls at 6am and they think it’s perfectly normal, because they’ve already been up for at least an hour, if not more!
Siobhan, fellow volunteer working on the project, went to this meeting with me. We were perfectly content expecting it to last forever, as most Cameroonian meetings are. But, to our surprise, this lady had spent enough time in France and has adopted to the efficiency. We were in and out of the meeting in 15 minutes. We talked more about our project, who it will benefit, where it will be, etc. She asked some questions, took notes, and said, “we’ll supply the books you need if you can find a way to pay for the transportation. We’ve stopped the book drive operation, but we are starting it back up for you. I am in the country until May 1st, and I will go back to France and discuss the details with the President. We’ll be in contact.” Just like that. Clear. Simple. To the point.
I was in shock leaving this meeting. This lady even drove me and Siobhan to where we were headed next, saving us a trip in the taxi. I could not believe how easy it was. And just like that, we have a promise of French book supplies for 25 village schools! Before I left the village for vacation, I had gone around to delivering project applications to most of the schools in my village and a few nearby. I’ve also selected the schools who will participate in the project, keep those who weren’t selected on the backburner, in case we have more books than we can manage, then they’ll benefit as well.
The project is growing with a snowball effect. For the first 8 months of my time in Cameroon, everything I did felt like pulling teeth. Everything took forever and never works. Suddenly, things are falling into places and working, and I can’t be more satisfied!