Monday 28 November 2011

Presenting Aflatoun! A Social and Financial Curriculum

When my brother and I were teenagers, my dad always liked to say, "Treat your credit card like your debit card." That meant to pay it off in full every month and if you couldn't afford something, you wouldn't charge or buy it. I also opened my first savings account at six years old at Kinecta Federal Credit Union (the account still exists today!). Both my brother and I graduated college debt-free (albeit normal student loans) with solid credit scores and emergency savings.

It doesn't matter how much money you have; it's how you manage it (we see rich celebrities go bankrupt after earning more money that most of us see in a lifetime). Money habits are formed at a young age and learning financial literacy in childhood can set you up for a lifetime of monetary security.

Children under 14-years-old comprise 40% of the population of Cameroon. Thus, my latest Peace Corps project involved the expansion of Aflatoun, a social and financial literacy program for youths.

Aflatoun is the name of a friendly fireball that teaches everything from equal rights to savings to enterprise creation (and yes, he has his own music video). This is all done through child-friendly activities and savings clubs.

The past three days were spent performing a Training-of-Trainers as a teacher that implemented the program last year traveled to help us out! During the training, teachers and youth leaders went through the same activities as the children will go through as well as debated about equality, cultural diversity, etc.

As you can see, the training sessions are highly interactive!

Giving a calabash gift to our Aflatoun trainer (middle) as a representative of the Ministry of Education (left) looks on

Congrats to all the participants!

*As of July 2012, 135 students across three schools are participating in the Aflatoun program in the Adamawa region.  Plans for the 2012-2013 school year will include expansion to 1,000+ students in the region!

Saturday 12 November 2011

The Power of Michael Jackson

Here in this sleepy city of Ngaoundere, in West Africa, a local break dancing hip hop group held a tribute concert to Michael Jackson 2 1/2 years later.

R.I.P. M.J.

Monday 7 November 2011

Fete du Mouton a.k.a. Eid Al-Adha a.k.a. Festival of Sacrifice/Sheep (Part 2)

And the celebration continues!

After eating another delicious sheep meal at my counterpart's house, we headed off to the Lamido Palace. The Lamido is the traditional chief here in Ngaoundere and though the palace isn't too large, the shows during the holidays are very grandiose!

Crowd waiting for the show to start with everyone wearing traditional Muslim clothing

Traditional music

Faces in the crowd

The Lamido, Ngaoundere's traditional chief. To salute him,
you must fist pump with both hands!

The "Fantasia" horse show

Adorable kids in their party outfits

Later that evening, I had, yes, meals at three more houses! Though I naturally have a small appetite, I was able to pass on some food to the little guy below.

Bonne fete!

Sunday 6 November 2011

Fete du Mouton a.k.a. Eid Al-Adha a.k.a. Festival of Sacrifice/Sheep

Bonne fete!

Fete du Mouton is a Muslim holiday celebrated roughly 70 days after the end of Ramadan, the once-a-year fast for Muslims. The day commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God; however, God provided a sheep (“mouton” in French!) to be sacrificed instead.

Thus, Cameroonians do what they do best today: eat good food i.e. sheep! The festivities last through tomorrow, so my kitchen will rest untouched the next couple days while I have a handful of houses to share meals with!

Dali, one of my neighbors and best friends, proudly displaying our feast! Presentation is everything.

It's family-style eating! Everyone eats off one plate, but since I'm the American, they provide me with my own plate.

Adorable kids of Tongo Pastoral.

Getting Cameroonian sipa done (equivalent of Indian henna). I was told the appointment would be at 3PM, but African time took over, so now it's 7PM!

Isn't it beautiful?