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
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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