In Shisong there is a Catholic Hospital, and I had heard rumor of a bakery there with fresh baked bread in the morning. Yesterday, July 3, I set out to find both. Shisong is not very far from where we live, only a few miles. However, it does take a while to get there even if you do have a car. I walked to squares, which takes about 20 minutes or so if you don't have kids with you. I needed more credit for my phone, so I got some there from Kenneth's store, but Kenneth was not in. I don't know if it is his store or if he just works there, but I like him and will go there if I need minutes, light bulbs, baking powder, or bleach. I had used up all my minutes making a call back to the states to our LMH classmates, Ryan and Maura Martin, who will be arriving in Cameroon later this month. It was worth it to talk with them and share our experiences of our arrival and first week here.
Shisong is one of the standard taxi destinations, as is Junction (Bamkikai on the map) and so I could have walked to Junction and gotten two cabs to get to Shisong, but I would have had to have walked there and then gotten a cab over some of the worst road I have seen, and I'm not sure it would have saved me any time or energy, at least as long as I am going downhill.
Map of Kumbo diocese, detail. Note that circles are chapels, circles with crosses are parishes. I think.
At Saint Elizabeth's hospital I was able to greet the head nurse, and she introduced me to one of the pediatricians, a German. They also have a cardiac center there, and by happy coincidence a friend of my brother will be spending time helping there this Fall. The bakery was easy enough to find, but closed. I asked around when it would open, and was told it was open now. I had just been there, and the building was dark, but sure enough, there were now people coming in and out, activity in all the windows, etc. The bakery is operated by the Community of the Ark, which from what I gather is very much akin to Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Cafe in Los Angeles. There were idle youth making trouble, so this ministry was started to give the young people job training, including sewing, embroidery, baking, and carpentry.
I met Fr. Felix, a Capuchin, and Relindis, a secular Franciscan who works closely with the youth as something like a counselor. The bread they had was a day old, but fresh bread was coming soon from the bakery, so Relindis gave me a tour of the facility (which is how I learned all about the Community of the Ark). It is amazing how different Cameroon and the USA are, and yet how similar we all our in our human needs. These troublemaking Cameroonian youth needed something to do, some place to work, and the Community of the Ark helps them, in a similar way as Homeboy and Homegirl help gang involved youth in LA. And both organizations operate a bakery!
The fresh bread was the same kind you can buy anywhere in town, but having it fresh baked was delicious, right out of the oven. The sisters next door get it delivered, and I wonder if we could share in that delivery... It certainly isn't the kind of bread we are used to, but it's about as good as you can get here. We hope to purchase flour and make our own. You can buy it by the 25kg sack. I also got some of the day old bread of a different kind, and we used that to make French toast this morning (July 4--happy Independence Day!) or at least something resembling French toast. Palm oil instead of butter, powdered milk, and we don't have any cinnamon or vanilla... still, it was yummy!