October 8, 2004: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: PCVs in the Field - Cameroon: Blogs - Cameroon: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Crime: Live Journal: David Dubreuil in Cameroon

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Library: Peace Corps: Blogs: Blogs: October 8, 2004: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: PCVs in the Field - Cameroon: Blogs - Cameroon: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Crime: Live Journal: David Dubreuil in Cameroon

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David Dubreuil in Cameroon

David Dubreuil  in Cameroon

David Dubreuil in Cameroon

A Wild Ride!
As we make choices in life, most of the time some degree of risk is involved. In my belief, that’s what makes it frightening, exciting and many other emotions may be attached to that experience

In applying and joining the Peace Corps, all types of risks were involved in my decision making process.
1. Learning and living in a new culture
2. Starting a new life
3. Adapting to a new way of living… and so on
The list could go on and on.

The four months that I have been in Cameroon have challenged my character, intelligence, beliefs and the way I make decisions. I have grown as a person and become accustomed to ideas and cultural aspects that I never would have imagined.

When I applied for the Peace Corps over a year ago, I set expectations for myself and experienced many situations that I would have never imagined. First, I expected to be successful in my training, and I was. (Except the French thing. No big deal) I expected to meet fascinating people from all walks of life and change certain aspects of me for the rest of my life. I did. I expected my work to be difficult I which it was in a variety of ways. And it is. Again the list could go on…

I have learned from past experiences in my life that expectations do not always match what actually happens in a situation. Years ago I moved to California with high expectations for starting a new life and challenging myself. After a short time I realized it was not for me and did not match what I originally planned and anticipated. Some years later I moved to Florida only planning on staying for a year and lived there for six wonderful years. That’s life.

Since I have been in Cameroon, I have experienced so many different things which many have you have followed over the past four months. The goats, chickens, roosters, cows, pigs hanging out in my front yard. I have battled through the “bush Taxi” experiences. By the way, just recently some girl threw up onions and peanuts. Bad combo. I have eaten some strange food that have been really good as well as some that have been some of the awful tastes in my mouth or made me very sick (remember the wheel barrel pork?) Also I have had to deal with 14 of my friends recoup from a serious accident only a few weeks ago. In addition, knowing that I could have very well have been with them. I have learned and appreciated the true feeling of being alone and the ability to learn how to deal with it in constructive ways.

Now to my point… In the past week I was put into physical harm and that was NOT part of my expectations. I told many of my family and friends and I some what planned to get robbed but nothing to the extent that I will describe. Losing money, personal items means nothing to me. The following is a report that I filed with the Peace Corps last week.

"To: Peace Corps Admin Staff
From: Dave Dubreuil Mbengwi, NW
September 28, 2004

The incident that occurred on Saturday September 25, 2004 was the final event of a slew of actions in the past two weeks. To really understand the robbery on Saturday it is vital to explain all events.

Beginning on September 15, 2004 in the late afternoon. I was reading in my house on the couch as I began to hear noises outside my house. The noises than began to sound like rocks being thrown against my door and house. I remained in the house for another hour or so and after went outside to see what happened. On my porch, there were a handful of small rocks that were scattered. In that time, I thought it was just neighborhood children playing.

One week later on September 22, 2004, in the evening, at about 1130pm. I woke up from a sound sleep because I heard a noise in my kitchen. I got out of bed with my machete and patrolled the inside of my house. Although, I did know that it would be extremely difficult for anyone to break into my house. I realized it was probably just the mice rummaging through my stuff as usual. I returned to bed four or five minutes later and tried to fall back to sleep. Just minutes after I returned to bed, I saw a flashlight shining into my living room. At this point, I did not get up to see what was going on. I remained in bed and noticed the flashlight disappeared from my sight in the living room. Minutes later, the flashlight began to shine into my bedroom. At this point I was very nervous. I had no power in my house so I was not able to do much but just sit there and watch the light survey my room. At about midnight the situation was pretty much over for the night. Needless to say, I slept very little that night. I spoke to my neighbors the next morning to possibly see if he heard anything or had a similar experience the previous night. He said he did not hear and or see anything.

Just days later, on September 25, 2004 two other incidents occurred in the evening. At about 615pm, my neighbor and I went down the a bar in town for a beer and catch up on our event that happened during the week. We only stayed for a short while and walked home together at about 750pm-800pm. When I arrived top my house, I went inside to finish up tasks I began earlier in the night. At about 815pm I went outside to smoke a cigarette on my porch as I do most nights. I locked my door and stood and smoked. Minutes later I finished and began to unlock my door. As I started I heard a voice behind my say “ Hey white man.” I ignored it because I hear it all the time. Again seconds later, I heard and felt him getting closer and walking up on my porch behind me. I was very nervous at this point and had a feeling this was going to get bad. Before I could do anything I felt a cold gun barrel in the back of my neck. He demanded all the money I had. With no hesitations, I gave him all 2000CFA’s and my ID card. Fortunately, I was able to hide my house keys, so he would not demand to go into my house. I think he wanted more, of course. As he realized I only had a small amount on me, he told me I better have more money next time, and that really affected me. The whole situation lasted only minutes. I think he heard some voices from the path by my porch, so that might be a reason why he departed so quickly.

I went inside very promptly. I did not have a chance to see his face so I could not identify him. My nerves were a mess and I felt very sick. I vomited almost instantly, and I had a hard time calming down. I got myself together and began to think of what I need to do. I knew I was not going outside. I called George, Dr. Sammy, and I spoke to Robert. They all expressed concern and asked me if I felt safe for the time being. I did feel ok inside my home. I also spoke to Susan my PCVL, and she will be with me in the morning. Finally about 1200-1230am I went to bed. I was hoping to get some sleep but I knew it was futile. And then, at about 230am-245am I once again saw flashlights shining in my living room and very soon after in my bedroom. I did not want to deal with this again. I had no options but to wait and hope that nothing else will happen. The lights went away in a short time.

On Sunday morning Susan met me in Mbengwi, and we went to the gendarmes to file a report. To be completely honest, this was useless. They offered no help what so ever, and I think they thought it was funny that I was there filing a report when I only lost 2000CFA’s. I explained that was not my worry and I was only concerned for my personal safety. That’s did not seam to matter either. I was instructed by the gendarme to write a brief statement to what happened and bring it the legal counsel in town. I do not believe anything will be done.

I have never in my life had any experience like this before. I have never held a gun never mind having one held to the back of my head."

So that’s the story. At first right after the situation I thought of my family. In any turn of events, there could have been a chance that I would have never seen my mom, my baby sister or my new niece. Is it worth it? I thought about the friends in my life who have guided me, supported me and who have loved me in anything that I have done and decided to do. Is it worth it being here? I asked myself these questions.

So with all this, I have decided to leave the Peace Corps for reasons of my personal safety. I joined the Peace Corps to help and make a small difference. For me, to be physically harmed or possibly killed is not worth it to me. Am I disappointed? With the situation, yes; but not disappointed in myself. Almost every day since I have been here have been some of the most difficult days. I do not regret being here and I have absolutely no regrets making the decision to leave. It was difficult but I knew it was my only option. I cannot live in a place where I fear for my life and where possibly something might happen again. And who knows what the outcome could be next time?

I have known about this decision for almost a week, but I only spoke to my Peace Corps Volunteers and the admin staff here. I did not want any biased opinions on anything. Later, I told my family after I had made the decision to leave. I have had nothing but support from all my friends here and my family. All of it has been very meaningful to me.

So I return back to Florida on Friday evening October 8th. As many of you are reading this I will be returned already and once again starting a new phase in life. These phases have been awfully close together recently, but that’s ok. Even though I am returning with very little, it does not bother me. I know opportunities arise whenever one goes. It is just the way one looks the situation given to them. I know opportunities will come up for me when I return. It will take time, but I am lucky to have a loving family and friends who will support me in the coming months that will no doubt be challenging.

I need to mention the amazing support from all varieties of people who shared support, prayers and encouragement since I have been here. I received over 200 emails from close friends and family as well as new friends from all over the world. I received over 2000 hits on my website and a laundry list of postings on my guest book.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH!! Everything meant so much to me.

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.

Make a call for the Peace Corps Date: February 19 2005 No: 453 Make a call for the Peace Corps
PCOL is a strong supporter of the NPCA's National Day of Action and encourages every RPCV to spend ten minutes on Tuesday, March 1 making a call to your Representatives and ask them to support President Bush's budget proposal of $345 Million to expand the Peace Corps. Take our Poll: Click here to take our poll. We'll send out a reminder and have more details early next week.
Peace Corps Calendar:Tempest in a Teapot? Date: February 17 2005 No: 445 Peace Corps Calendar:Tempest in a Teapot?
Bulgarian writer Ognyan Georgiev has written a story which has made the front page of the newspaper "Telegraf" criticizing the photo selection for his country in the 2005 "Peace Corps Calendar" published by RPCVs of Madison, Wisconsin. RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow, who submitted the photograph for the calendar, has published her reply. Read the stories and leave your comments.

February 19, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 19 2005 No: 449 February 19, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
NPCA Board positions are open for nomination 17 Feb
Mike Tidwell on trial for climate action protest 17 Feb
Katie Dyer is co-owner of Cadeaux du Monde 16 Feb
Cyclone misses Tonga and Samoa PCVs 16 Feb
Phil Hardberger in debate for Mayor of San Antonio 16 Feb
Edmund Hull is Princeton Diplomat-In-Residence 16 Feb
Bruce Greenlee is longtime friend of Latino community 15 Feb
Mike Honda new vice chairman at DNC 15 Feb
Jospeh Opala documents slave crossing from Sierra Leone 14 Feb
Dear Dr. Brothers: Aren't PCVs Hippies? 14 Feb
Joseph Lanning founded the World Education Fund 14 Feb
Stanley Levine draws Marine and Peace Corps similarities 14 Feb
Speaking Out: JFK envisioned millions of RPCVs 13 Feb
Chris Aquino visits mother's homeland of Vietnam 12 Feb
Is PCOL blocking users from posting messages? 12 Feb
JFK Library opens Sargent Shriver Collection 1 Feb
RPCV responds to Bulgaria Calendar concerns 28 Jan

WWII participants became RPCVs Date: February 13 2005 No: 442 WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.
Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Live Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Cameroon; PCVs in the Field - Cameroon; Blogs - Cameroon; Safety and Security of Volunteers; Crime



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