Submitted Photo Spencer Snyder with the brothers of his host family during training. Snyder, a recently enrolled Peace Corps member, is on a two-year assignment in Cameroon.
Spencer Snyder of Aiken is spending his first Peace Corps assignment in Africa, tending to the health of the residents.
Snyder, a South Aiken High School graduate, joined the Peace Corps last September. After two months of training, he was assigned to the village of Badjouma, located in northern Cameroon, Africa.
Cameroon is a country about the size of California and is located in the central western region of Africa. It is a microcosm of Africa geographically and culturally with a topography ranging from coastal beaches to mountains and rain forests to deserts.
There are approximately 200 Peace Corps volunteers currently serving in Cameroon, involved in the education, environmental and health programs.
Snyder was one of 55 volunteers in the new wave assigned to Cameroon. He personally is working with a local UNICEF team, dealing with malnutrition and HIV/AIDS education.
Snyder will be on assignment to the village for the next couple years.
When he first wanted to join, his parents, Larry and Judy Snyder of Aiken, were apprehensive. However, the extensive training and infrastructure that the Peace Corps provide helped them accept the risks that would come with Spencer’s adventure.
During the two months of training, volunteers like Spencer live in remote villages with a local host family. During this time, they are totally immersed into the culture, language and primitive living conditions in order to prepare them for similar experiences in their future assignments.
During his training period, Spencer lived with a local Cameroonian family of eight. He had six “brothers” ranging in age from three to 20.
While the home provided basic shelter, there was no running water and only an outdoor latrine. “Bucket baths” were the norm, with water hauled daily from the local town’s well.
Since French is the primary language of the country, Spencer’s training also included daily French lessons.
Spencer’s assigned home in Badjouma is typical of those provided to Peace Corps volunteers – a small, two-room concrete block dwelling with a tin roof located within a walled compound.
There is no running water, and the bathroom is a simple latrine in the back yard. Water for bathing and cooking is carried daily in buckets from a neighbor’s well.
The Peace Corps provides water filters and mosquito nets to all the volunteers.
Electricity is only on about half the time so Spencer uses a solar panel purchased from the previous Peace Corps volunteer in his village. The solar panel keeps his cell phone and other electronics charged.
Volunteers are assigned local community coordinators. This person helps the volunteer transition into the village and assists the volunteer in the project work that he or she will perform during their two-year assignment.
Spencer’s coordinator is Moussa, a local farmer who is dedicated to his role and has proven to be an invaluable asset to Spencer’s transition into his village.
The Peace Corps maintains a medical staff at each of its four regional offices and provides the volunteers with health care on the local economy. If a volunteer becomes ill, they are quickly transported to the regional offices for treatment by the in-house medical staff and, if necessary, at the local hospitals.
All volunteers are medically cleared before they are allowed to leave the country.
All volunteers are provided bicycles and helmets for getting around their assigned villages and nearby areas.
In addition, they are provided a motorcycle helmet for riding the “moto” taxis that take them to the more distant villages and larger towns. The moto taxi is simply a small motorcycle for hire that is the primary form of local transportation throughout the country. Many motos can be seen carrying as many as five passengers at once.
For longer trips between the larger towns, there are commercial cars and buses available that are often overloaded with passengers and with all kinds of baggage and other personal belongings strapped on the roof.
The Peace Corps volunteers are not allowed to operate any motor vehicles while they are in service and can be terminated immediately for breaking this rule.
Recently, Spencer attended a Catholic church service where one of Moussa’s sons was baptized. During the rather long service, many of the parishioners tended to doze off. One of the elders of the church would walk around continuously with a long stick and tap people on the head when he caught them nodding off.
Spencer said he managed to stay awake throughout the service.
In spite of the hardships of the primitive living conditions, Spencer says he is enjoying the challenges of his work and the once in a lifetime opportunity that it is giving him to experience African cultures and to see firsthand the beauty of the varied landscapes of Cameroon.
While electricity is sporadic, the cell phone service in Cameroon is very good. Most volunteers purchase a local cell phone as soon as they arrive in the country, and are able to communicate among themselves, the Peace Corps offices and friends and family back home with fairly reliable service.
His parents are comforted by Spencer’s weekly phone calls, when he tells them of his latest experiences.
Read more: Aiken native in Africa for two years | Aiken Standard
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Dear Friends of Cameroon,
You’re invited to answer the Peace Corps Week 2014 challenge! Peace Corps Week celebrates the anniversary of President Kennedy’s establishment of the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961. It takes place from February 23 to March 1 but you and your group members are encouraged to take part in activities starting today and continuing through March 1.
You can participate in two ways:
· The Classroom Challenge encourages RPCVs to connect with U.S. classrooms to share their Peace Corps country’s culture with American students. Get involved and get your country of service and/or state on the map!
· The Video Challenge invites RPCVs to compete to win best video that showcases “What I wish Americans knew about my Peace Corps Country.”
Visit the Peace Corps website to get all the details and to begin planning how you’ll answer the Peace Corps Week 2014 challenge! Additionally, we’ve provided these promotional materials and photos that we encourage you to use to promote Peace Corps Week in any of your group’s regular communications such as websites, newsletters, emails, or social media.
We appreciate your help in getting the word out to your members and look forward to seeing all the great activities you organize this Peace Corps Week!
RPCV Group Liaison
Peace Corps Office of Third Goal & Returned Volunteer Services
A Peace Corps Volunteer helps Cameroonian children paint a mural about water sanitation on a well constructed by another volunteer at a school in Madouma, East Province, Cameroon.
While Oregon residents are joining the Peace Corps with great fervor, they’re doing so at a slower clip than they did last year.
So says the Peace Corps itself, which, in a report that ranked which states contribute the most volunteers, placed Oregon in the fourth spot nationally.
Oregon sends 5.2 volunteers per 100,000 residents into the Peace Corps. The figure is down from the 6.1 volunteers per capita rate that Oregon logged in 2012. The state ranked third in the Peace Corps analysis last year.
Oregon ranks only behind Vermont, the District of Columbia and New Hampshire in terms of per capita volunteers.
“Oregon has a wealth of globally oriented universities and sustainably minded communities from which we find volunteers willing to make a difference in communities overseas,” said Janet Allen, manager of the Peace Corps West Coast Region, in a release.
California, New York and Texas send the most volunteers overall into the Peace Corps.
In 2013, 203 Oregonians joined the Peace Corps. That figure ranks 14th overall, tying Oregon with Massachusetts.
Andy Giegerich is editor for Sustainable Business Oregon.
The volunteers will contribute to the development of eight regions in the country for two years.
Some 54 Americans aged 20 and above on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 in Yaounde were sworn-in for Peace Corps Cameroon Sustainable Livelihoods, Community Health and Youth Development programmes. After nine weeks and three days Pre-Service Training in Bafia and Bokito in the Centre Region, the volunteers have been assigned to the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development, Women’s Empowerment and the Family and Youth Affairs and Civic Education in eight regions in the country.
During the swearing-in ceremony which took place in the presence of several members of government and their representatives, the honorary guest at the event, Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, Marie Therese Abena Ondoa lauded the courage of the young Americans whom she described as “Youths with a Heart of Love” for deciding to accompany Cameroon in its development process particularly at the grassroots level. The Minister of Public Health, André Mama Fouda lauded the volunteers assigned to the community health sector while the Chargé d’affaires at the American Embassy in Yaounde, Greg Thome and the Country Director of Peace Corps, Jacquelyn Geier Sesonga, saluted the courageous decision of the volunteers who believe they can contribute to make a difference in the world.
(Cameroon Tribune, 11/21/13)
Attention Cameroon RPCV’s:
Friends of Cameroon is proud to announce a new Peace Corps Cameroon Calendar for 2014! These 12×12 wall calendars feature beautiful landscapes and cultural shots taken by volunteers across the country. Each month will have several pictures plus information about current PCV projects and interesting facts about Cameroon.
While the calendar was created by current PCV’s, all profits will be managed by Friends of Cameroon and used to fund future PCV projects. Calendars are a perfect gift for the holidays or a souvenir to brighten up your cubicle, so don’t miss this opportunity to relive your Cameroonian memories while helping out future in-country projects!
Buy them at www.yearbox.com/pccameroon for $15 (+s&h). Or buy 4 or more, for only $10 each. This is in the pre-order stage right now, but calendars will ship in late November.
For more information and previews, go to the Facebook promotion page:
On est ensemble!
On August 7, 2013, United States Ambassador Robert P. Jackson and the Secretary of State representing the Minister of Secondary Education presided over the swearing-in ceremony for thirty-three new Peace Corps volunteers at place des fêtes in Bafia, Center region. The ceremony marks the end of the volunteers’ ten weeks of multifaceted training and the beginning of the service component of their two-year commitments. The new volunteers will be posted in the Adamawa, East, Littoral, North West, South, South West, and West regions. In his remarks, Ambassador Jackson thanked the community of Bafia for four years of partnership, including the hospitality it showed to volunteers and its strong participation in the model school last month.
Including the recent addition, Cameroon now hosts approximately 200 Peace Corps volunteers who work with Cameroonian townspeople and local community groups in nine of the countries ten regions. The work of Peace Corps volunteers center around the themes of Agro Forestry, Community Health, Education, Small Enterprise Development, and Youth Development.
The Peace Corps was launched by U.S. President John F. Kennedy in 1961. More than 3,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps volunteers in Cameroon since 1962. Peace Corps volunteers currently serve in 76 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and the Middle East.
Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) and John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) in the late 1970s published a newsletter RPCV Writers & Readers that developed by early 2000s into the website www.peacecorpsworldwide.org.
Today, this is an online community and resource for RPCVs, Peace Corps Volunteers, their friends and families, and all who share a desire for international understanding. Peace Corps Worldwide is not officially connected with the Peace Corps or the National Peace Corps Association.
As the publisher and editor of this site, we are continually impressed by the Third Goal activities of RPCVs back in their host countries, the projects that RPCVs have developed in-country over the last fifty-plus years, from school and community libraries to health initiatives, to peace keeping efforts, to scholarships for students, and many other such efforts on behalf of their former hosts and the lifelong friends that they have made.
We would like to add our support to all these efforts by featuring the Third Goal work of RPCVs. If you would request that your RPCVs send us photos and narratives of their projects, we would be happy to publish them on our site. It is, we think, one way RPCVs can draw attention, and perhaps financial support, for their efforts. Thank you for considering this request and we hope you might publish our offer on your website or in your newsletter.
All narratives and requests for further information should be sent to: John Coyne at: jpcoyne at optonline.net.
Marian Haley Beil, Publisher
John Coyne, Editor