Thursday, January 6, 2011

Photos Day 5- It's all about the People

This was our last full day in Tali. The agenda for the day included a Woman's Forum and Cultural Event. It was this day that we were fully immersed in the lifestyle of Tali, Cameroon.
Woman's ForumSpeakers: Sarah, Corrie, Cathy
Attendees: Women from Tali and the 59 surrounding villages

Share our stories of being professional women leaders, the value of higher education, the balance of family and work life, and the importance of g

At 10 am, we were served breakfast that included fried eggs with onions and tomatoes, sliced white bread, fresh pineapple, peppered coffee, local hot tea, Ovaltine/cocoa, and water.

After breakfast, Sarah, Cathy, and I (Corrie) were given traditional African dresses that were purchased by the local women. We changed into the dresses for the Woman's Forum, and drove a few minutes to the Tali 1 Town Hall. We arrived around 11:30 am. (The men stayed at the place of residence.)
Traditional African dresses given to us
The meeting room was not yet ready, and the women had just begun arriving. We were given chairs and asked to sit on the outside patio until the program was ready to begin. During this time, we were greeted and welcomed by women arriving. Each village had coordinated their dress attire to match. The women looked beautiful in the matching traditional dresses.
Attendees at the Woman's Forum

The school children were in uniform and very curious about us. I had brought silly bands with me, so I shared these with the children. For each shape given, I explained what it was and how it related to a professional career. For instance, a wrench would be used by a mechanic and an elephant might be protected by a ranger.
Government primary school children
By 2:30 pm, all the women were gathered in the hall and men had started filtering in. Finally, at 3 pm the Former Governor had given his approval to begin the Woman's Forum.
Sarah began by explaining how she was part owner of Schmidt Associates. She expanded by sharing what it was like to work at Schmidt Associates, how many employees we have, our training program, and the importance of servant leadership. I followed her up by explaining my role at Schmidt Associates, how I was raised on a farm, went to the university to get my masters while working and having a family at home, and sharing the importance of sending children to the university. Cathy closed for the group by telling the attendees about her role at CICF as an accountant and the importance of giving.

Once we were complete with our testimonies, the women had the opportunity to ask us questions. Some of the questions raised were:
  • How can we raise money to send our children to university?
  • Will electricity and better roads come to Tali with African University?
  • Our cocoas are becoming damaged before they can be harvested; will African University develop better farming techniques?
  • How much of the rainforest with African University take?
  • Will there be employment opportunities for us and our children at African University?
  • What language will classes be given in at African University?
We responded to their questions, and they presented us with several spices that a group of women had harvested in the rainforest. We were able to bring some of these back to the USA. Martin is planning to brew a beer with some of the spices.

Finally, William had brought along Verizon duffel bags as gifts for the women in attendance. We handed all the bags (about 150) out and ran out! William drove back to his place of residence and got more and we still ran out. For the women who did not get bags, Elizabeth served them lunch.
Women receiving bags
By 4 pm, the Forum was complete and the men (Wayne, Martin, David, and William) were whisked off to be dressed for the cultural event. Kathy, Sarah, and I were driven to a nearby community space. We were exhausted from the conditions and events earlier in the day. I saw our driver with a warm beer and immediately requested one for each of us. This was our first beer in Tali and very welcomed! Although warm, I have to say the beer was the most refreshing and best tasting I have ever had!
Sarah and I enjoying our beers

Cultural Event
30 minutes later, the men were dressed and we walked to where they were to take pictures before the cultural event started. Once complete, we were seated on the side of an open space before two buildings. The entire village had gathered for this event. Originally, we were to attend a cultural event that was put on for us, like theater. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were honored to attend an event that would have taken place whether we were there or not.

Clutural dress for men

Chief elect-elect

By 7:30 pm, the pomp and circumstance was complete and the members of the club were absorbed in traditional activities in the clubhouse. The team was dismissed, and we headed back to our place of residence while in Tali.

At 9 pm, we were served 'lunch'. This included fried chicken and river fish, rice, tomato and green bean sauce, boiled yams and potatoes, fufu eru, fresh fruit, sodas, and water. After dinner, our stomachs were full and our bodies were in much needed rest. We retired to our rooms and packed for our departure the next day.

The event was a rite of passage for a man to be in line to become chief of the local club. Our understanding is that this club acts as a fraternity with rules of conduct, traditions, and a membership of only men. One of the rules of conduct is that a member cannot abuse a woman. The club has a current chief (who is the Former Governor that has been with us since day 2 of the journey), a chief elect, and a chief elect-elect. This event was to observe the selection of the chief elect-elect.

We were able to observe the phased entrance parade that welcomes a 7-year old boy to the clubhouse after spending 7 days in the bush learning the ways of the club.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, this is great and I wish we can all support and have more Universities like this in Africa! Why? Because Africa Rocks!