• The Wonder of Motobikes

    CAC returning volunteer Mike Mazzullo blogs about getting around Dschang, Cameroon with Breaking Ground. Thanks to the Taiji Branding Group who support this project and bring CAC to life with their incredibly creative designs! Check out this website and our Annual Review for proof of their excellence.

    June 30th 2016. Our partner for the week is Breaking Ground, who specializes in sport for social impact and emphasizes female empowerment. I, along with many others, have written blogs on the power of CAC’s curriculum in confronting problems. Although Dschang’s participants warrant plenty of praise, this blog post is about something off the main path: motobikes.

    It’s a great value: about 20 cents a ride, to anywhere in town.

    As you enter the town of Dschang, Cameroon, the bus depot buzzes. Kids hawk peanuts and plantains, drivers honk to signal “let’s go!,” and hands slap the back of buses to say “stop there!” The cacophony of shouts and honks and claps is steadied by another, more constant buzz: motobikes.

    When I say motobike, it’s useful to think of a cross between a dirt bike and a bare motorcycle. The long seat extends to fit one, two or more passengers. I have not encountered their kind in the States. Motobikes and their operators have a tricky job.

    The clientele varies, and one must be prepared to transport nearly everything and everyone. Most locals of Dschang get around by popping themselves onto the back of the nearest moto, cargo in tow. Some fares involve the carrying of wooden planks, bundles of bananas, or a Western volunteer with his duffel bag and backpack.

    The terrain requires dexterity; red earth hardens into ruts and ridges with the sun, and dissolves into puddles and potholes with the rain. Riders must be nimble enough to maneuver the twisty turns and sturdy enough to slog through steep climbs.

    Motobikes compete with cars for space on the inside shoulder,  and the whir and whoosh of the motos ensure pedestrians don’t wander too far from the outside shoulder. The rules tend to be followed, if not enforced.

    Dschang is bumpy and hilly. As you snake from the high center of town, glimpses of farmland and villages pock the distant green. A layer of clouds sits on the waist of the hill-line, providing a latitude of fog cover. One of the great things about beautiful places is the way your eyes can surprise. Riding a moto can be exhilarating, practical, scary. As a foreigner, there’s a slight impulse to treat it like a scenic tour/roller coaster. Glimpses turn into stares. It’s a bit like taking a peek out your cab window and realizing the Empire State Building is before you. Landscapes can have that effect. A casual glance en route invites a momentary break from the world.

    Spedometers are an aesthetic accessory. One moto’s spedometer was stuck at 0 kph, another’s at 50. You get the sense everyone is speeding, but no one is in a rush.

    How to ride on the back? Do you embrace the driver, grip the side handles, or spend the time texting? Most put their hands off the back fender, as if they were really relaxing in the rear seat of a car. I clutched the driver’s shoulders, almost out of worry he’d forget I was there. Also, if I got lost looking into the hills and clouds, I might forget I was there.

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  • A New Style of Learning

    CAC volunteer Cameron Hardington, student at Amherst College, blogs about his first week in Cameroon with Breaking Ground. This program is part of our great partnership with the Games 4 Good Foundation, who we thank for all of their support.

    June 10th 2015. There are three passions that have categorized my early years: my passion for football, a desire to see and experience the world, and a love for people. It was these three qualities that inspired me to volunteer with CAC, so heading into Cameroon I was excited, but was also unsure what to expect. After a day and a half of plane flights, a night in Yaoundé, and an 8 hour bus ride we finally arrived in Dschang, the city that we would be working in this week.

    The first day of training brought many difficulties for me including nerves, culture shock, and the most obvious obstacle, the language barrier. Nora had told Rachel ( the other volunteer) and me before the session that we would not be coaching that much this week as neither of us could speak French, but that we could hop in on games and do demonstrations. Not being able to speak or understand the language turned out to be one of the best blessings for me. I was able to see and understand the games through visual cues and was able to gauge what the coaches thought of the game by their laughs, smiles, energy, or the odd confused face here and there. Most of the time it was hard for me to follow what they were talking about in their discussions but I was able to catch the gist of it by their passion, expressions, and hand motions.

    This group definitely had a passion for female empowerment and gender equity. It was obvious to see that during these games there were smiles and laughter on the faces of both men and women, but they were also extremely intentional and serious when we got down to talking about issues and how gender issues can be resolved. The most brilliant example of how highly they valued gender equity happened during a game called Marta for Gender Equity. The basic rules are that there are two teams and half the team is sitting out on the sideline while the other half plays. It’s a regular game of football, except when a team scores, they run over to the sideline and pick a player who is sitting out and say a good choice for empowerment such as “education” or “exercise” and the new player comes in to play giving a numbers advantage to the team that scores. It was near the end of the game, and neither team had been able to score, and then finally a team scored. Nora then yelled, “Choose three players to come in!” The young boy who scored ran straight over to where his two best friends were sitting and went to the first, grabbed him and said a good choice and he was in the game. He then went to his other best friend, reached down to grab his hand, then hesitated and you could see him think, and then he proceeded to pull his hand away and grab two of the women’s hands who then came in to play. This boy’s action was a perfect sample of this group’s attitude. They are passionate, courageous, and most importantly they are not afraid to adapt a game to show a different lesson than the one that Nora had intended.

    I have a great hope and expectation for this group in the future. From the first day, it was evident that they were very open and eager to share issues that they faced in their community as well as possible solutions to the problem. I think that the most valuable asset that this team has is their willingness to listen to other’s ideas and feed off them to form new ones. This characteristic that they share collectively has the capability to make real change within the community, and I look forward to seeing where it takes them.

    This week taught me one of the only things I value higher than learning which is a new way to learn. I have never been in a situation where I have had to rely on some type of communication other than speaking for 5 days straight. My French got better as the week wore on, but I learned through the games that we played, and the expressions that the coaches had on their faces rather than Nora’s translations or explanations of how to play each game. Starting in a community where I didn’t speak the language has prepared me greatly for the upcoming week in Kumba where I will get the opportunity to coach a few games.

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  • Games 4 Good Foundation

    May 22nd 2015. CAC is delighted to announce that we will be partnering with the Games 4 Good Foundation to deliver our sport for social impact programme with local partner Breaking Ground in Cameroon.  We will be introducing our new, innovative ‘ASK for Choice’ female empowerment curriculum to the participants in Ngaoundéré and Dschang from 24 May to 6 June.   The CAC and Breaking Ground Football partnership ensures that young women and girls have safe spaces from which to share their knowledge and express their own visions for their lives and communities.  It creates an opportunity for girls to question harmful social, cultural and religious practices.  Civil equality laws in this region, where they exist, are frequently overruled by traditional, patriarchal ones.  The majority of women and girls are not even aware of what their rights are.  This partnership will raise awareness and empower women and their communities to implement, respect and protect these rights.  We are incredibly excited about the potential of this partnership and thank Games 4 Good Foundation for their invaluable support.

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