Every day, Heifer International assigns the group a task, including a subject to consider and/or question to answer. Today's question was “Why are you here?” We had plenty of time to ponder this question during our 230-mile trip from Douala to Bamenda, which is located in what Cameroonians call the West Highlands of the country.
Being a group of Americans, we expected the drive to take four, maybe five hours tops. As mentioned in the blog from Day 1, one of Cameroon's largest gaps is their infrastructure, which includes their slowly increasing number of paved roads. Our 230-mile trip (370 km) took our group eight hours, including an hour lunch halfway at the Fere Hotel. This mountanous journey pegged us at an average of 32 miles per hour—gas currently costs 470 Cameroon Franks/liter, which translates to $4.20/gallon U.S. This journey took us from sea level in Douala to 8,000 feet above sea level in Bamenda. The overall drive was enjoyable as it gave us an extremely good view of rural Cameroon.
During our drive, we saw an abundance of agricultural trees and plants: bananas, cocoa, pineapple, horticulture, palm nuts, papaya, palm oil, white pepper, plums, rubber trees, palm raffia, kola nuts, coffee, coconuts and plantains, along with the people that tend to them. Even though our worlds may look different on the outside, ag production is a strong part of our lives as a group and clearly the foundation of the communities that we saw.
As we approached nightfall, we arrived in Bamenda. During our group dinner we discussed the question of the day: “Why are we here?” As this group is a combination of Elanco employees, Heifer International staff (including three native Cameroonians) and Elanco customers, we had some differing but overall cohesive reasons for coming to Cameroon and participating on this study tour:
- We want to understand more about Heifer International, their work in Cameroon and how to get involved.
- We realize we are fortunate for everything that we have and what we are able to do as U.S. citizens. We want to exchange knowledge and show other people back home what is happening in the world and how we can play a greater role.
- Personally and professionally, this is a great way to grow and stretch ourselves. This is an opportunity for us to take this experience back to our friends, family, customers, students and peers back home to make it more personal to each of us.
The question also posed to the group this evening was “What is one thing I want to learn or do before I leave Cameroon?” We will be making a list and holding each other accountable to do and discuss these things prior to heading home on May 31. If you are interested in seeing what this list looks like and learning about the next couples days we will spend in the Western Highlands of Cameroon exploring culture and agriculture, continue to join us on this blog…