Day 20 (July 5th, 2010)
Can you believe it, they forgot to bring me on the trip! It wasn’t intentional though, there had been a misunderstanding the night before which led the others to believe that I was no longer going. Oh well, they’ll be going again next week so I’ll have to go again that time.
Instead of seeing rural Cameroon, Genesis and I went around to local radio stations to spread the word about the grants we were trying to offer schools to receive a computer lab. It was quite interesting. The first radio station we went to seemed to be the most popular of the three. Though we listened to the guy (a friend of Genesis) interview some coach about the World Cup, when we got there we learned that it was only a recording and the guy wasn’t there; we’ll have to come again later.
The second station we went to was run the a large Presbyterian Church in the region. When we got in, we learned that the Radio Station only did broadcast announcements from 5-10 am and 5-10 pm (it played music in between). There was a lady there (who didn’t really seem to appreciate us being there) who was the program organizer.
“What is it you would like?” she inquired tiredly. Genesis explained our program for schools and what we were trying to accomplish.
“Ok,” she began, releasing a heavy sigh from her equally heavy body.
“We were hoping,” Genesis replied, somewhat hesitantly, “that you could find some time to fit us into a time slot. Maybe you could interview Brandon and some of the other volunteers to discuss what they’re doing here, how long they’ll be here, etc.” The lady did not seem to hear him.
“Do you have some sort of information…that I can use?”
“Oh yes,” he dove into his briefcase. “We have pamphlets here that you can use with some very brief descriptions of what we do…” I looked at the pamphlets as he handed them over to her. “Yes, these are brief descriptions of what we’re involved with…”
Brief? Genesis the thing is covered front and back with nearly 10 different sections! At any rate, the lady didn’t seem to mind but merely stared at all the paper he had unleashed upon her, appearing lost.
“So…” I began, uncertainly.
“Will the students pay for these?” she asked, referring to the free lessons I would be teaching over the summer.
“No, these classes are completely free. And we are providing the school labs as well nearly free as well. We cover most of the cost.” The lady didn’t seem too pleased, or rather, increasingly unpleased.
“We run an ICT lab here for students at our school and…” she said, gesturing in the air with her hand in a manner that left me confused as to what she was trying to convey.
“People in the area?” I finished.
“I can not advertise this on our radio. We run our own lab and running this would be in conflict with our own lab, it would be bad for business.
“I see…ok” Genesis replied, starting to pull away the sheets on the free summer courses.
“Do students use your school?” I piped. The lady turned slowly to me and fixed a stern look at me.
“Yes, during the school year.”
“Everyone uses it, students, adults…everyone.”
“But, just making sure, the students have to pay to use it right?”
“Yes they pay, everyone pays,” she responded rather irritably. I shut up after that.
“All this free stuff you all are giving out,” she said with a smile, slapping carelessly at the papers. “You must be really rich.” She finished with a laugh. Genesis and I laughed as well (I’m sure at the hilarity of anyone thinking our position was rich).
“Either very rich or very hard working” I replied.
“Yes, we are very hard working” Genesis added. The lady smiled a bit more.
“Well, I think we’re going to need a fee from you to pay for us…to help us sustain you know?”
“Ah, ok yes of course.” Genesis responded, apparently unfazed. In retrospect, he must have been expecting this the entire time. I suppose one gets used to the culture here after enough time. We ultimately agreed on paying 2,000XAF per broadcast day and for them to broadcast about our school labs for 3 days (Wednesday-Friday).
The next radio station was another Christian one, this time run by a pastor. I would find later that even though “Our radio station is your radio station” (which the Pastor enthusiastically told us when we asked to broadcast a message), we would not be without paying fees. “So…how will we pay for all of these free things?” the pastor asked, pointing to the fliers that we were asking him to broadcast about on the radio. We would later agree to pay 1,500 XAF.
Some girl (maybe 20-21) moved in for a bit today, I’m not sure why. There wasn’t really room for her so they just dragged a mattress on the floor and slept there. I felt a little bad for her as I walked by but I’m not sure she minded since I’ve seen many people here sleep on a mattress and to be honest, sleeping on a mattress isn’t really that bad…much like a bed. I tried to wash my clothes today but of course there’s no washing machine so she helped me wash my clothes. She has a pretty smile which is nice because it’s not often that people here smile at you.