Sunday, December 14, 2008

The mists are clearing

Things are becoming more and more clear. I’ll be working in Bamenda and other parts of the North-West for “United Cities and Councils of Cameroon”.

Among other things, my role as a volunteer will be:

· To train volunteers and partners on coaching and mentoring to help them acquire skills for driving change forward

· To train volunteers and partners on change management

The major outcome should be new training modules on coaching, mentoring and change management appropriate for circumstances there, as well as partners and volunteers trained on how to better respond to the change needs of the councils and other partners.

This work fits into a wider project on Participation and Governance, whose objectives include:

1. To and strengthen the capacities of civil society organizations to improve their governance and advocate for the rights of vulnerable groups to quality basic services

2. To strengthen the capacities of local decision makers and state agencies to engage in transparent practices that promote good governance and increase access to quality basic services

I've had the jabs (ouch!), and I'm about to start the anti-malaria tablets.

I fly out on 2 January, first to Zurich, then to Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. I’ll be returning, arriving at Manchester airport on 4 March. Please keep in touch. I don't want to be "out of sight, out of mind".

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Where? Why? What?

When I told colleagues that I am going on a short placement under the auspices of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) to Cameroon, a frequent reaction has been to ask where exactly that is. So a brief explanation follows. The Republic of Cameroon, French: République Camerounaise, is a unitary republic of central and western Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Compared with other African countries, Cameroon enjoys political and social stability, I’m glad to say.

As things stand, I will be working in Bamenda, in the North-West province, training people in coaching and mentoring skills.

I think a few linguistic challenges lie ahead. The major spoken languages are French and English but a multitude of more than 200 ethnic languages are also in circulation, with various tribes populating the country.

I am very much aware that I have a lot to learn about the country and its people. It's exciting to be facing these new challenges.

I must say how impressed I have been with the quality of VSO staff I have met so far. I only hope I won't let them down!

Now for the 'Why?' I have a few noble aims, I think, but I am sure I'll learn a lot, seeing how training and development is undertaken in a very different society.

These are my first thoughts. Let's see if I am sufficiently self-disciplined to keep this up!