We have just returned from Cameroon where as well as moving our health project along we have been helping the Baka musicians tour other Baka communities. (Follow the tour on our blog at forestvoices.com)
We had some very sad news before we returned that Barma, a woman we have known for 22 years, had died. We were horrified to find out when we arrived that she had died due to a hernia. Unfortunately she hadn't told anyone about it so we could not give her the simple operation that you have so kindly helped fund. It made us aware that the women especially need encouraging to come forward. Two hernias were treated while we were in Cameroon and the recipients are very happy with the results.
On our arrival we heard news that there had been a nasty accident involving 3 Baka (a man, his wife and their baby) travelling on the back of a moto-cart (a kind of motortrike with seats on the back). Although much wider than a motor bike they only have one headlamp in the front and they were hit by an oncoming car travelling at night. The man was killed, the baby unhurt and the mother had awful leg injuries. By the time we arrived gangreen was beginning to set in and the driver who brought us down to Gbiné took her back to the mission hospital in Salapoumbé. Thanks to the funds we have raised her leg was saved, though she will always have to use a stick to walk now.
Communications with the hospital at Salapoumbé are very hard as there is no phone network, as well as being 400km from the nearest tarmac road. When we went there we found that the Baka woman who needed funds to finish her midwife training had left and couldn't be traced. We are looking into the possibility of finding another woman, but there are not many Baka women with the level of education needed to start the training. We are looking into the possibility of helping the Baka women who traditionally deal with helping with births get extra training to deal with emergencies that are beyond their ability to deal with in the forest.
Last year the well that was built last year in the village of Banana (that we were hoping to copy at Gbiné) ran dry. It seems that too many corners were cut in it's construction so as the water table dropped in the dry season it fell below the depth of the well. To build a well at Gbiné when there is no well in Banana is not a good idea. The Bantu farmers would take it over from the Baka, who are not into confrontation and do not stop people taking what they want from them. However one of our supporters with a keen interest in the water project travelled to Gbiné anmd made a detailed study of the area to work out what will be the best means of securing clean water for the Baka. His report will be posted in due course.
All in all there have been a few setbacks this last year, but the work carries on and we continue to make a very real difference to the lives of the Baka at Gbiné.