National Child Exchange

Currently, we are in the middle of summer break.  During break, or les vacances as said in French, children go stay with their family members in a different city.  Typically, if a child is from a smaller village, they will go stay with family in a larger city, or if they are from the big city, they will go back to family members in one of their parents’ village.  All kids participate in this summer activity; our 3 year old neighbor is enjoying his summer vacation in village and our 9-month old baby next door just got back from a few weeks in another city with his aunt.  It turns out you don’t have to be in school, or even near school age to take part in this tradition!

So what does this mean for us?  Last week, our yard and porch were quieter than they have ever been!  Peaceful cups of coffee were sipped in the sun on the deck, as the majority of our gang is traveling and staying with family , it was a much welcome silence!  But, over the last weekend, 5 new children showed up to stay with the family in the same building as us.  There is a lot of banging, laughing, crying, and astray soccer balls coming from that family now!  For every kid you lose, there is a new one who just arrived around the corner.

The interesting part for us, is just how prominent this exchange is.  When we were in training in Bafia, our host family acquired about 13 new children for the summer, all of the kids around us have either left or welcomed extended family or friends into to their home.  Furthermore, this is not your American visit which would last a weekend or a week at most; these visits last anywhere from 1-2 months!  While I would die having 5 extra children in my house at a given time, I appreciate the Cameroonian sense of community and family, in which everyone plays their role in taking care of all of the kiddos.

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