Monday, December 31, 2007

My Child's 4th Birthday

I woke up on the 29th of December listening to my host family singing Happy Birthday. I got up and inquired and learned that little 4 year old Benwih in fact turned 4 years old. Here she is in her Birthday dress. The family had to attend a wedding and I was invited to join them after going to the office and getting some important communications out. Benwih's Birthday party with children from the neighborhood was supposed to be in the afternoon. I joint them at 1:00 PM when they were still in church. I learned that the reception was not until 3:00PM and that we would stop by the market. Theresa and Comfort joined me to help me buy a dress for a formal Wedding Anniversary that I had to attend. We found a very lovely Top and Bottom" kind of a blouse with a wrap around skirt, very festively decorated. We went to the reception and sat in front of sodas that made us even more thirsty. COPAAP volunteer Francine and I finally left to walk an hour through town in an attempt to place a small parcel into the hands of the Cameroonian Baptist Conventions driver to transport to Kumbo. We managed but the vehicle had just left. We are promised that it will be delivered. We walk back to the Wedding just in time for the drinks to be served, the gifts are handed to the Bride, food is served, and in no time it is over and we all go home. Cameroonians inhale their food, and lots of it.
We get home late, the child sleeps and everyone watches soccer... Don't know if there is a later date for the Birthday party. I managed to buy a pair of shoes for the child. Her smile when I presented them made it all worth while.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas in Cameroon

The shopping frenzy is just like in Europe or the US. Eating a lot and even drinking a lot is the same. What's different is the 95 degree Fahrenheit or 35 degree Celsius. It feels like summer and it is not easy to think of Christmas. In the markets cheap versions of Jingle Bells blaring loudly.
What's different are the visits. Everyone goes to everyone’s house on Christmas Day. The families who farm bring fruits, vegetables and the all present "Achu". Achu is kind of like mashed potatoes sticky dough of pure starch.... cheap and filling. People who have a salaried job are expected to give things that have to be bought, such as soap, salt, and oil. I gave the children tooth brushes and tooth paste donated by my dentist Lenore Schwartz in White Plains. The adults got Nivea donated by a friend whose daughter works for the company. Nivea products are known and expensive here, so they are a cherished gift.
I was tired of the overload of activities and on Christmas morning I was contemplating to go to Kumbo when Cosmas called I said yes. Because of the busy Christmas season the busses where full and the car parks (bus stations) chaotic. I took a private car - imagine a small car with 7 passengers and the driver flying with great speed over dusty never paved pot hole spiked mountains. I was praying to make it but not really scared. It is kind of fun - in Africa you never know if you wake up the next morning. That's why people are so happy - they did indeed wake up to another day.
Funerals are still plenty. These days it is not always AIDS related.
People here really got the message about AIDS. It is actually amazing how much changed since I first came in Oct 2005.
Let me find some pictures to post for you.
With heaps of love and peace

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Managing Women of Weh, Menchum Division

AIDSfreeAFRICA Fashion Center for short “AIDS FACE” 2006

It was made possible through a donation of US $1200 from a Rockland County New York based women’s group.

Women in Weh Cameroon bought a sewing machine and fabric to sew 800 school uniforms (lower left). And that’s only the beginning. Profit made is used to buy food or exercise books and pencils for students. Rather than giving members money, they pay expenses for birth and dead celebrations. Most important for AIDSfreeAFRICA, they pay for antiretroviral treatment and drugs for HIV/AIDS positive members. The start of this program came too late for Linda, but four other woman are successfully on drugs and are thriving. (see picture upper right) The Lady on the far left is Ann, the president of "Managing Women".
And a new project is in the infancy stage. We are asking for your donations. The Fon (chief) of Weh asked for help to establish a cooking oil depot and sales point. The profit made from the sales, after expenses will be used to pay for AIDS testing of his subjects. Truly innovative. So far every Fon has asked us for help building roads. And yes, they need roads urgently. Any construction people reading this?

Enjoying a relaxing weekend and helping others, US donors and recipients.

"Managing Women" received micro loan.
Now the work starts.
(Right to left) Fon of Weh, Rolande, Felix Akap.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Drug production equipment

Donate Production Equipment
Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR)
Ultraviolet visible light absorption spectrometer (UV-VIS)
ion selective pH meter to measures proton ion concentration in water
ion selective electrodes to measure Sodium (Na+) and Chlorine (Cl-) ions.

Tablet counter device

Output 800,000 table/h

Max. noise  
Less than 82 dB

Dust scope  
3 m

Atmospheric pressure   0.4Mpa 2 barometric

Powder supply 50 w
220V/110V , 50Hz/60Hz

Overall Size
510*510*880 mm

Net Weight  
62 -100kg

Blister packing machine


30times/min/plate each punching

80×57 mm (Designed according user’s requirement)

Packing material
PVC hard piece: width 65-70 mm, thickness 0.25-0 .30mm, bore diameter
of rolling shaft 60-70 mm.

PTP Aluminum foil: width 65-70 mm, thickness 0.02-0.025 mm, bore
diameter of rolling shaft 60-70 mm.

Power consumption      5
kw max, 220V, 50-60Hz, 1-pole 5-line

Overall size: approx L×W×H

Weight : 180 to 300kg 

Tablet duster

Electrical connections    220V,
50Hz, 1P/110V, 60Hz, 1P

Power input:
100W max

5-25 mm

Drum speed:
10-150 rpm

350 m3/h

3 bar (Oil, water and dust-free)

800000 tab/hr (6 mm Tablet)


Dimensions approx.:

Bottle filling line: 30 to 450ml bottle with a speed of
approximately 120 bottles per minute. Other parameters still to be

Labeling machine

Labels on round products like bottles / jars / tins.

Full / Partial labeling for Aluminium, Glass, H.D.P.E. etc. is possible.

Electrical connections    220V, 50Hz,
1P/110V, 60Hz, 1P

Power input:
150W max

800000 tab./h (6mm Tablet)


Dimensions approx.:

Output speed up to: 
60 labels / minute



1Electronic Balance1
2Machine for production of ointments, creams, lotions, etc1
3Tube filling machine1
4Machine for production of oral liquids1
5Machine for production of ear drops1
6Ointment slab2
7Gas Masks12
9A dehumidifier or desiccators2
11Electronic mixer1
12Computer (laptop)2


1Printer for plastic infusion bags1
2Generator, 250KVA1
3High Efficiency particulate Air (HEPA) filters2
4High Performance liquid chromotographic machine1
6Top loading electronic precision balance (0.01g - 2000g)1
7Top loading balance (0.01g - 250kg)1
8Laminar air flow hood1
9Machines for eye drop production1
10Intravenous fluid filling machine, (for plastic IV bags)1
11Laundry machine1
12Pot autoclave2
13Binocular microscope (electric)1
14Autoclave for steam sterilization of IV bags1


1Detergent production machine (plant for producing powder detergents and cleaning powders)

Products To Be Produced:

  • Machine washing powders
  • Hand washing powders
  • Cleaning powders
  • Diswasher powders
  • Others if possible

Filling and Packing (could be half automatic, fully automatic)

  • Polybags and folding boxes
  • Bags
  • Other if possible
Production Process:

Could be any of the following

  • Spray – Mixing process (batch)
  • Spray – Mixing process (continues)
  • Spray – Drying
  • Others if possible
2Soap Production Machines

Soap Production Techniques:-

  • Saponification of oil and fats
  • Saponification (Neutralization) of fatty acid
  • Finishing of dried soap base noodles (no own saponification)
  • Automatic working method with a low number of personal)
  • Less automatic working method with a high number of personal

Note: the process could either be batch or continuous splitting.

 Kind of soap we wish to produce

  • Toilet soap
  • Laundry soap
  • Medical soap
Energy Supply

We need

  • Steam generator and
  • Emergency power unit
3Electrical Weighing balance: with ranges

  • 0 – 2.5kg
  • 0 – 50kg
4A distillation unit for Ethanol production1

Monday, December 17, 2007

From Cameroon's Capital Yaoundé

I am writing this on a french computer with french keyboard - thus forgive me the typos.... Thursday the US Embassy called with my appointment for Friday morning. I finish my e-mails and run home from the Mezam Polyclinic's office to gather my things and to let everyone know that I take the night bus to Yaoude. I am hugged as if this was the last day on earth, fed dinner, and hollered off to church. The night bus is on the way to church, so here this makes sense.
I am in the fully loaded bus asleep despite blaring music and reach Yaounde at 5:30 AM. Kenneth picks me up.
I reach the Embassy and meet the newly installed energetic new Ambassador Jeannet Garvey. She thanks us for our work in Cameroon and says: Cameroonians will be so proud knowing that they can produce drugs!
She then offers me to come back with the management of Diamond Pharmaceutical to sit down with her staff to plan how best we can get all the help the Embassy business development programs offer.
The next day I meet with Professor Jato who takes me to the Ministry of Public Health where I learn how to register pharmaceuticals in Cameroon. I was introduced to Prof. Jato through the man who sat next to me in the air plane flying in from Casablanca three weeks ago.
I am now in Douala, Cameroon's industrial capital city visiting more people I have not seen yet. Tomorrow Anicestus will drive me to Mutengene where I will see my friends from the Cameroonian Baptist Convention talking about production....
Yes, I am busy and determined to come home having left something for real in Cameroon.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sewingmachine project in Weh

The sewing machine project in Weh a village in the North West Province of Cameroon is now in it's third year and growing slowly. Of course the women are also asking for additional projects. We are looking for donors who would be delighted to sponsor a project or part of a project. We need USD 1200 for a project that has the power to generate income for 40 families at a time.

Susan Frei donated the sewing items that can be seen in one of the two pictures. This time I was lucky to get the items through to Cameroon. In general, it is easier to brig donations and to buy what's needed in Cameroon.

Gifts from AIDSfreeAFRICA volunteer Jennifer

Last year six volunteers acompanied me on my trip to Cameroon. This year they send their love and best wishes, their pictures and toys. All was received with big smiles and apreciation.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Waiting Game

The good thing about waiting for others is that it gives me time to write this blog. Especially since it is Sunday morning, everyone is in Church and the internet is fast. The sad news is that we lost two children from the DILICIG School to Malaria yesterday. One child was rushed to the hospital with burning fever. They gave it a blood transfusion - not sure how that helps with Malaria - but it was too late.
Malaria still kills more children in Cameroon than AIDS. In fact, children are not counted in any country wide statistics until they are 5 years old. After the age of five they have a good chance to survive Malaria, assuming they get drugs. When I arrive our 4 year old orphan in Eunice's house was burning with Malaria fever, but lucky for her "mama" Eunice had gotten malaria drugs for adults and was cutting the pills with a big knife into a child portion - I am sure this is pure guess work. But the child is fine. If I get the pictures posted you will see her with her pink stuffed teddy bear from Auntie Jennifer - one of our last years volunteers.
The young man in the back ground of the photo is our hired armed guard or night watch man. The family did not want to risc anything. There were too many robberies lately, both adult women in the house had their purses snatched from them when they were walking home from church - however, it happened at 8 PM at night long after dark fall and something anyone should be avoiding.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Arriving in Africa

Saturday, November 24, 2007
Arrived in Africa
Hello everyone,
this will be my first trip to Africa with the capacity to blog - to be in communication with you!
Please read it and respond. I look forward to hearing from everyone.
I made it into Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon "African Style" I slept the first night at the airports police departments metal bench. And I am glad I did. I was not picked up and it is too dangerous to ride a taxi at night in a city that I hardly know.
So, now I am at the Catholic Relieve Services Office blogging. In between Kenneth and I went food shopping, frozen fish, pineapples, watermelon, papayas, limes, french bread - good stuff.
We ended up in a wedding processing down the street with music and dance and I got to kiss the bride and groom. Hope it will be contagious.

We will leave for Bamenda tomorrow. I will send you pictures of my now 4 year old Benwih. Last year she kept my upper body strength in shape by having me carry her around. I will try to post pictures of her. How appropriate. The first picture being of my very favorite child.

With heaps of love and peace
Check out our web site

Progress towards Production

OK, here is the short run down: Cameroon was singled out with praise by the latest UN report for having implemented behavior changes regarding HIV/AIDS. The sad news is Cameroon has lost US$8 Million in new Global Fund money. The Fund complained that monies from previous years have not been spend and are sitting in government’s bank accounts in Yaounde. At the same time, HIV/AIDS testing and treatment facilities are telling me that they are still waiting for the government to send money they had been promised.

AIDSfreeAFRICA is getting close to setting up production for an analytical reagent used in diagnostic for HIV/AIDS. Our goal is to have production started and set up in a manner that it can continue when I am leaving for the US January 24th. Coincidentally a COPAAP volunteer will be flying the same day same flight. So we can keep each other company until Morocco. She will be going home to Holland while I will be staying for 3 days to see Casablanca.

Right now I am sitting in the COPAAP office on the computer and at the same time I am waiting for the remaining 3 chemicals to arrive. I could have ordered them from Germany but our philosophy is to do as much business as possible here in Cameroon. I have a lot of faith in the capabilities of Cameroonians, but sometimes even I am are amazed what can be done. Although I admit, most things here take longer.

The Clinton Foundation is setting up a big program to prevent Mother-to-child transmission. That is preventing the transmission of AIDS from the pregnant women to her child at birth. It is gratifying to see a powerful organization with such good goals to move right into the heart of Cameroon.

One can think that getting pregnant while HIV positive should be avoided because the illness weakens the body already and a pregnancy adds stress to it all. However, at the Toronto AIDS conference two years ago I learned that this correlation does not hold true. In fact many mothers find pregnancy to be stabilizing their falling CD4 count numbers. And if the mother is properly medicated and eats well there is no negative effect to be expected from being HIV positive and pregnant. Luckily, Cameroon is a very food rich area. And all the food is fresh. There are plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. Some women however, need financial support not only to pay for the drugs but also for food.

I love to hear from you. Please feel free to e-mail me at