I wrote this blog post with the intention of posting it the week I was leaving village. Because of a family emergency, I had to pack up my life in Danfili and say my goodbyes in the course of one day, several weeks earlier than planned. As I readjust to life back in the United States, I am dealing with the loss of my grandmother as well as the loss of my community in Danfili. My grandma was an avid reader of this blog and was always full of questions about Cameroon. It only feels right to post my final entry as I planned.
|Wonderful friends who accompanied me to the train station|
As I start my last month in Danfili, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection on my time here. I’ve been here so long and yet no time at all. I’ve learned so much and have so much to learn. I’ve done so much work and yet accomplished so little. I have so many feelings about leaving this place and about going back to the U.S.
So what can I tell you about these past two years? How can I put all of this into a blog post or a sentence long explanation? All I can say is that as I reflect, in this place that is so different from what most of us know, the memories that I will always remember are surprisingly ordinary. I know that you expect to hear that I will never forget the car with the cow in the trunk or the questionable food, but I’m sorry to report that my happiest memories here are everyday things. I will never forget the extraordinary experiences, but the ones that make it hard to leave are simply memories with the people who have become my friends and family.
I won’t forget the many excursions to Lake Mbella. From the first trip out with Rashida to the last trip when we celebrated opening a bank in Danfili. The day I spent having a picnic and playing trivia with two good friends.
I won’t forget all of my little kiddos who drove me nuts and left me laughing. Watching Hawa go from a reserved little girl to an assertive preschooler. Coming home to the kids at Asta’s house all chanting “Eliza! Eliza!” Bamanga’s little guy, Abdoulaye, crawling over and reaching up to ask me to hold him.
I won’t forget all of the wonderful individuals who welcomed me, not as the “nasara”, but as their friend. Doudou who was my first close friend here. Bamanga who invited me into his family as if I had always been there. Fadi who I can always be honest with. Nyandon who has become the little brother I never had.
I won’t forget all of the things I learned. David who taught me Fulfulde. Habiba who taught me how to sew clothes. Sadjo who taught me how to make Folere sauce.
I won’t forget the work triumphs. The day that Asta and I finished the village census that we had been working on for months. The meeting where I watched three men explain the importance of family planning to community members. The day that Bamanga and I accomplished the final step to open the MC2.
I won’t forget the small adventures that we had. Climbing the hills on the other side of town with Abdul Aziz and Fadi. Taking a moto with David to a nearby town to take photos of the beautiful landscape. Vaccinating in the brousse of a small village with Youssoupha where we crossed a terribly unstable “bridge”.
What else can I say about the past two years to truly explain what these people and this place have meant to me? The best experiences and people are always beyond words. No speech, photo, or souvenir can do them justice. As I say all of these goodbyes, all I can do is appreciate the memories, the skills, and the love that they have given me. Only truly amazing people make goodbyes so hard and in the end all of the pain is so worth having had them in your life.