Today we got our posts! I’ll be going to a village called Lomié in the far southeast corner of the country. This place is in the full-on jungle, a day’s drive (if such roads existed, which they do not) from the DRC and Gabon – complete with pygmies, bushmeat, a massive wildlife preserve (Réserve du Dja) and every stereotypical African jungle thing you can think of. It is in the French-speaking part of the country, but a couple local dialects are also spoken.
I’ll be posted with a fairly well-established NGO called GeoAid, whose current projects include a vegetable farm for a Baka (pygmy) group, a bread-making operation, a girls sewing group, and some health initiatives. The region has turned a few heads recently due to increased interest in commodity excavation (such as cobalt and timer – and oh boy is there a lot of timber), so there is a pretty solid cell phone network, internet, and other infrastructural amenities. There also appear to be a few other aid groups, NGOs, and expats in town.
I will be the farthest away from any other PC volunteer than any of the ~180 of us currently in-country, however, so I’m trying to take it as a compliment that they keep thinking they can stick me anywhere and I’ll be fine. (The same thing happened with my homestay – I’m the farthest away from all the other volunteers and from our training building. It worked out great, though, and my family is fantastic). Word among the PC staff and volunteers is that the PC admins are very interested in expanding our involvement in the region, as the west is far more developed and the majority of volunteers are placed there. . The Associate Peace Corps Director (APCD) for small enterprise development also served in the region in the 1980’s, so he seems to have a soft spot for it. I’ll be the first PC volunteer in this place, though, and only one of nine volunteers in the entire East province, which covers about a fifth of the country.
Seven more weeks of training and the real work begins… in Lomié.