Walking a Mile in Her Shoes

21 June 2011 at 10:00 3 comments

Faith and Eunice at her farm

Actually, we trekked and climbed about 5 miles to visit Eunice’s farm, and our path was much easier than her typical route.  Eunice is a GHAPE borrower and a farmer.  She grows potatoes, corn, and beans.  Then she sells the vegetables to people from her home.  Traveling to the closest market in Belo would be much too far.  I rode for 30 minutes on a motorbike to reach her village, and the 5 miles that we hiked together was only the portion of the trip (beyond the village) that was not passable by motorbike.  When I announced at the borrower meeting that I wanted to see her farm, everyone warned me that it was very far away – a 3 hour climb.  I knew her three hours would be a much faster pace than mine, but I also knew I needed to go.

So, off we go – Eunice, the GHAPE Branch Manager Donald, and myself.  After about 30 minutes at my slow American pace, Donald realizes we need to take a bike if we want to reach her farm before sunset.  I readily concur, and we keep walking until we reach the next village.  There, I rest while Donald arranges for two bikes.  It takes awhile because we have to find bikes with enough horsepower to manage the treacherous roads.  Seriously, I felt like I was on an open air, no-seat-belt, “reality” roller coaster.  There’s a reason the locals walk.  And yet, I also felt very safe because the drivers in Cameroon are very careful.

When Peter, our motorbike driver who is also a GHAPE borrower and the Treasurer and Opinion Leader for his Center, dropped us off, I naively hoped that were very close to Eunice’s farm.  But no, we climbed for almost 2 hours.  Eunice makes this journey at least once per week carrying her produce on her back after harvesting, and remember, she walks all of it – no motorbike.  Eunice is very strong, and today she was very patient with me.  Along the way up and back down, Eunice and Peter both introduced me to many more GHAPE borrowers.  There are three Centers – about 125 borrowers – in this section of the mountains, and almost all of them are farmers.  Most of them have similar hikes as Eunice to reach their farm and return back to their village.

Entry filed under: Cameroon, GHAPE (Grounded Holistic Approach to Poverty Elimination), KF15 (Kiva Fellows 15th Class). Tags: , , , , , , , , , .

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  • […] Walking a Mile in Her Shoes Country: Cameroon / Fellow: Faith Garlington (KF15) Walking a mile- or more like five miles- of Eunice’s trip to and from the market, Faith learns firsthand the daily trials of the Kiva borrower. […]

  • 2. Megan Bond  |  22 June 2011 at 06:56

    What an awesome experience, Faith!

  • 3. Richard Knight  |  21 June 2011 at 11:34

    HI Faith – thank you for your post and for making the trip. These stories really bring things to life. It would be great to see more photos of the type of path/road you used and what Eunice looks like when she is transporting her goods to sell. She must be completely laden down with her goods. What happens to the goods that she does not manage to sell – or does she sit it out until everything is sold? How long does it take her to sell her goods? What is the competition like – are there many others selling the same produce? What does the market place look like? So many questions – but thanks again for bring her journey home to life and well done for doing what you are doing – I am envious of your experiences! – Good luck to Eunice – Richard

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