006 Visit Africa : Surprise Visit to Cameroon Part III

Posted on Jul 30, 2012 in Podcast

006 Visit Africa : Surprise Visit to Cameroon Part III
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SURPRISE VISIT TO CAMEROON, PART 3: SHOW NOTES

In this episode, I wrap up my discussion on my trip to Cameroon.

Surprise Visit to Cameroon Part III

About Foster Care Program
Our foster care program is one of our emerging flagship programs. We are able to provide higher quality care to the kids at a much lower costs. I spent quite some time with the program, participating in it and reviewing it.

As a way of introduction for people who are unfamiliar with our foster care program, this program matches orphans with capable local families so that in partnership with these local families, we provide greater quality care for the orphans. If you want to know more details about the foster care program, please visit Shaping Destiny

 

I began my work on the foster care program by doing a door-to-door visit of all the 20 orphans that are in the program. This was a really amazing experience. It took us three evenings to complete because we could only go around 5:00pm since everybody goes to the farm and only returns in the evening. We don’t have a car there so we got to walk on foot most of the time getting some very needed exercise. The children and the foster families were very happy to see me for the first time. We spent some time together and I took some pictures, which I have uploaded, to the site for people who are interested in seeing. I will put a link to the pictures in the show notes for this podcast.

 

Nkambe Trip.

The next significant thing that I’d like to mention was my trip to Nkambe. It took us an entire day to travel to Nkambe, which is 8-10 hours drive from our main center. We had a car break in a town called Wum and stayed there for the couple of hours for the mechanics to fix the car.

We finally arrived there after 11:00pm and slept in our orphanage there. We got to spend time with the kids in that orphanage a little bit before we all retired to bed. They stayed up late because they wanted to welcome us.
The next day, we rode motorcycles and went into the interior villages to see some of the about 500 kids that we are serving in that area.

Closing the center there
One of the most heart wrenching things that we had to do while I was there was to close the orphanage in Nkambe to save funds. We haven’t been having enough money come in to support that location as we had hopped.
After visiting the interior villages, we returned and traveled back to Batibo where our main center is located. The staff that was working in the orphanage was to come later since some of the children had not yet gone on summer holidays.

Reducing the number of children in the main center.

When we returned to Batibo, we needed to do another hard wrenching thing. That is reducing the number of children that were in that orphanage. There were initially 85 children living in an orphanage that has capacity for 150 kids. We are now keeping the orphanage at 30 children to save costs.

I don’t want to go into the details of the reductions because it will take forever. However, that’s one terrible thing to have to do…

 

Even though it was a terrible experience, the good news is that we will still be helping these children outside of the orphanage with their education and medical needs. But they need more than that… but we can’t provide that…. Education and medical care are the most important ones that we thought we needed to continue to provide…

Changing the way we do ministry in response to what we have.

 

Leading twenty people to Christ.

When I returned to the U.S, we had some great news related with the closures and reductions that we made.

Two of our staff went to Nkambe to go drop off some of the children that we released from the program with their relatives. The story I got was that they were amazed to see how healthy the children were looking and many of them were just wondering and asking what kinds of good hearts we have that we will do something like that to the kids. They wanted to know why we do what we do. In short, at the end of the day, 20 relatives of those children gave their lives to Christ because of the testimony they saw of the work we were doing in the lives of those children. This happened in different homes. It was refreshing to hear the news.

 

Plans to have a secondary school for orphans to educate orphans in that place.
Another thing I did there that is worth mentioning is that I laid some groundwork for starting a secondary school for orphans that will potentially help thousands of orphans each year when the program is fully realized at a fraction of the cost that we were using to help 85 kids in the orphanage. We are working to combine this with our foster care program to really accomplish a lot with very little money. One thing that the financial hardship we have gone through is teaching us is how to do more with very little.
 

Let’s talk about meetings that I had there…
While I was there we also had several full-day training meetings with the staff to help improve our efficiencies. If you have been supervising work from a distance for 7 years, then when you go to see it and spend only two weeks, the time can become really short. The meetings were also very important because we were hiring a new manager that I needed to make sure was trained.

 

I went shopping in Bamenda.
One of the fun things that I did while I was there was to go shopping in Bamenda city. I went with the staff to go see how they buy groceries for the kids. It was a really fun trip.

The taxis

Another fun part of the trip was the taxis that I took. Many taxis are very old and falling apart almost. But the most thrilling part of the taxi ride is that in a small car like a corolla, the driver doesn’t carry one passenger in the front. He carries 3 passengers so that with the driver included, four people ride in the front. So four in the front and four or five in the back. In fact, many drivers share their own chair with a passenger and a few drivers have been known to ask someone else to change the gears for them. That’s if the someone else happens to know how to drive. Most of the taxis are stick shift
Return Trip.

On my return trip, I stopped in Bamenda again to do some shopping. This time, it was for my family in the U.S. My wife Ellen had sent a list of some Cameroonian foods she wanted.

Took the night bus to Douala. Arrived at 5:30 AM.

Lived in some stinky hotel. Will never live there and the volunteers won’t either. Was trying to save a little money but instead regretted.
I took AirFrance and flew to Paris, then Paris to Mineapolis, then to Austin.

My wife picked me up.

 

I leave you with this quote from Jesus Christ.

 

“All things are possible to him who believes”