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Reflections on Cameroon: Two sides to the same organization

I believe that some things can only be learned through experience. Undoubtedly, we each have our own ways of learning, and therefore I cannot deny the immense impact that has come out of my first experience in Cameroon with Breaking Ground. Walking through a village, seeing and hearing all the many ways of welcoming and greeting people, the smells of regional cooking, and the numerous sounds that fill the air from people to birds all still linger in my mind since returning. The feel of sitting on a train watching the Cameroonian sky change from afternoon to dusk to darkness created a connection to the land that no photo ever could. And hearing the story secondhand of how a woman’s tailoring business has prospered will never equal the experience of actually sitting in her shop listening to her describe the impact it has had on her life.   

Add to this the feeling of meeting and spending three weeks with Paul, an amazingly competent and critical Program Director, and I have a lot to be appreciative of and look forward to in my work with Breaking Ground. Alex’s presence on the trip was invaluable as well, and served to convey the history of programs and relationships with various communities and projects. It is obvious that Breaking Ground has forged many effective relationships at many levels in Cameroon. There is good and meaningful work happening on the ground and there is also effective relationship-building happening in the United States. These two efforts go hand in hand and are what I am most motivated by as I begin my work in earnest with Breaking Ground, as I know that stepping into an organization is about more than just the fieldwork. Thankfully, Paul has reinforced Breaking Ground as a competent, collaborative organization working with other NGOs and he keeps the interests of individual community members and program participants wholeheartedly at the forefront of his work. Not only was I able to see some of the need that this organization works to alleviate, but I was also able to experience the impact of our programs.

I am incredibly excited about these first memories of Cameroon and hold them closely as I dive into the US side of our work. You can get a sense of some of these memories and experiences from this first trip on both Flikr and Facebook. Thank you for the warm welcome and I look forward to your continued support and interest in Breaking Ground.

-- Kierstyn 


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