Travels with Angela in Central African Republic

Travels with Angela in Central African Republic

We started our trip with several flights, finally landing in Cameroon. After a short sleep we piled into a truck with four others and began a day-long journey driving East across Cameroon. At 4pm we were safely at the border after eating our fill of omelettes later in the day. Once we got over the border and through all of the passport formalities, we made our way to the Eglise Evangelique Baptiste (EEB) mission station. The station was developed by Swedish missionaries decades ago, and thanks to them there exists a 120 bed hospital, housing, a nurses training school, bible school and elementary school.

Our host for our 10 days here is Benoit Zangao, director of CEFA, and the CEFA staff. We ate dinner with Benoit at his home the night of our arrival. We were served chicken and while we ate we were given the explanation for the value of chicken in the local culture. When someone prepares a chicken for you, it has more value than if you had slaughtered a cow, goat, pig, sheep or any other animal. Chickens are served to those you want to show great honor, respect or celebration. Thus, our visit was honored with a chicken. We were the ones feeling extremely honored to have eaten with Benoit and his family. What, I wondered, do I do to show honor to guests in my home?

The CEFA staff and local farmers have been very keen to hear about Peter’s farm (he grows soy, corn and beef cattle with his dad, and sells crop insurance). Equally so, Peter has been intrigued to learn about farming in CAR and the use of crops for human food that in the US we primarily use as animal feed. While visiting the hospital nutrition center yesterday, we showed him a sack of corn and soy blended flour. This flour mix, along with added micronutrients and vitamins, is sometimes provided to the hospital and malnourished patients courtesy of the World Food Program. Many of the sacs come from US corn and soy donations. Peter admitted to never having eaten the corn and soy that he grows. On hearing this, Clarisse, the director of the hospitals nutrition center, hatched a plan for Peter to join the mothers and children in preparing and eating the high protein porridge. Today, Peter, at 6’3”, sat amongst the children eating the very porridge that will bring life back to their bodies. At the same time, we talked about the importance of having a garden of your own. The mothers of the children in the nutrition center will work and learn in the hospital nutrition garden, just one of the programs under CEFA’s umbrella. Peter says, “it was definitely one of those out of body experiences.” It put a whole new perspective on growing corn and soy.

01/23/2012 | Comments: 1 | Add Comment