Coming to Cameroun would be pretty shocking to someone that has never traveled to a ‘developing’ country. I consider myself fortunate that I was born in a developing country and have experienced living there to some extent, and visiting occasionally.

But most PC volunteers have also lived in other countries. As well as my friend who terminated early who was 30 and had already seen 50 countries, about 1/3rd of the volunteers have lived in France and the rest have spent significant amounts of time traveling the world, most to developing countries.

But the term ‘developing’ country is deceiving. Developing countries did not give themselves the title ‘developing’, as if to presume they were ‘under-developed’ in relation to other countries.

In these developing countries, western culture and values mix with traditional village and social norms to create a strange blend. Developing countries and its people live traditional lives aided and at the same time weighted-down by technological advances. For example, a ‘developer’ worker may arrive here and create a computerized system of keeping track of employees, money, etc. for an industry. In the U.S. this system frees employees (resources as they are referred to in the U.S.) to employ their time more efficiently and find other useful ways of improve their business. In Cameroun, it just means the company can just fire whoever it was that was doing that job. Secondly, because frequent blackouts that may last for days are common in most developing countries, days can go on without being able to get anything done if the company is now reliant on the computer system. Lastly, since the system inherently brings more complex problems, once the shit hits the fan, it really hits it. ‘Developing’ countries to become more reliant on technology and/or western ways/values is not necessarily the answer.

Poverty only seems like poverty in relation to its surroundings. In Bagante where poverty is everywhere, it seems normal; In fact, it is normal, and it stops being shocking or even out of the ordinary. Material wealth here would be shocking.

PS. One of the volunteers set up a web site at 39strangers.com which is mostly for photos. I’ve uploaded a few and some others have too. You can check it out if you want.

PPS. Another volunteer in my group also has a blog/website maintained by her family. It’s taraforpeace.com

me in my bubu.

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