Skip to content

Hannah Ottmar

My Work Places In Cameroon

Hannah Ottmar (My Work Places In Cameroon)

Pharmacy: At the beginning of our stay in Cameroon, I worked in the Pharmacy. Here, I was involved in counting and prepackaging drugs for most of the time. I equally helped with the registration of patients’ cards and with the production of Syrups and Disinfectants. I equally noticed that the hygienic conditions are not as good as in Germany, but I never really expected them to be. I tried to introduce the boiling of reused bottles to disinfect them, but some of them melted in the hot water. During my time in the Pharmacy, I learned many things about drugs and asked many questions. It helped a lot in preparing me for my Pharmacy studies, which I will be starting in October 2016. When we were less busy, I discussed cultural differences and politics with my colleagues. Those discussions helped me to understand Cameroonian culture and to adapt more easily.

Youth Network for Health: Working with Youth Network for Health, I learned to understand Cameroonian youths and their problems more easily. We carried out workshops and presentations (mostly on STDs, but also on other youth related topics like puberty, smoking, etc) in schools, communities and youth camps. In October 2015, we went to schools where we carried out Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT). We pre-counseled the students in groups and then gave them their results one by one. I was equally able to do some of the HIV-tests. This exercise took us to far-off places like Lus and Kom. The roads were a big challenge for me – after only one hour I felt so sick, that I almost wanted to turn back. When I used the same road for the second time (this time with LAP) I could no longer understand, what was so horrible about it. In one school, I was really facing trouble: I had to counsel some students in French, which I had not spoken for long, but somehow I made it. And the students even got what I was saying. Another thing, that the Youth Network for Health programme taught me, was to accept different working styles. At first, everything seemed to be totally chaotic and unorganized to me. In Germany, you could not just go to a school and say “We’re this or that organization and we want to do VCT here” and get an appointment just one week later.

Laboratory: Most at times, I was handling the Registration bench on my own. I registered the patient’s books, gave them urine containers and sent them to have their specimens collected. When the results came out, I registered them and gave the books to the patients. Especially the giving of results was funny – at least for the patients: I had to call their names outside to give their cards back. It took me quite some time to master the pronunciation of Cameroonian names. I was equally able to prepare samples for examination, to stain some of them and the Lab staff taught me how to recognize Malaria parasites and some few other things under the microscope. In the discussions with the Lab people, I learned about the importance of belief in everyday life.

LAP Bamkika’ai: Working with the Life Abundant Primary Healthcare Program, I enjoyed going out to the villages. I went on a ten day support visit to Oku. We visited different Primary Health Centers (PHCs) to see how the village health workers do their work and how activities are carried out in the PHCs. 

In most villages we didn’t have much work, so we had the opportunity to learn some words in the Oku language and to learn how to prepare food in a firewood kitchen. We were privileged to see a delivery. Since we saw how the child was delivered, the parents asked us to name the baby. A German parent would never ask a complete stranger to choose the child’s name!

After this trip, I went out for some one day visits around Kumbo. We vaccinated children and I had the opportunity to see a circumcision. The next support visit was an adventure: There was no way of getting to Kichowi by car, so we had to trek for four hours before reaching the village. Only ten minutes before we reached, we had to cross a hanging bridge. I almost wanted to turn back – it did not exactly looking safe to me. I was right: two days before we left the place, we got news that the bridge had collapsed. The work in Kichowi was really nice, I realized how important LAP is for the people. Many people came in from neighboring villages to consult. The last experience I had with LAP was the surveys. We went to two villages, counted the population, checked everybody and went around asking questions. I had so much fun during the surveys, and I noticed that I was actually able to communicate with the people living there in Pidgin-English. Kathi and I helped with the statistics. In the second village, we were even doing the statistics on our own.

Care and Treatment Center: I learned how to take vital signs (weight, blood pressure, temperature, height and head circumference for children) and was able to work on my own. I helped new patients to get around. Unfortunately, after all the offices were moved, there was no more space for me to sit without blocking the window.

ANC/ Infant Welfare Clinic: At ANC, I was equally taking vital signs, as well as assisting in prenatal care and the Women’s Health ProgramI filled clients’ registration cards, listened to the babies’ heartbeat or measured the fundal height. I assisted in cervical cancer screening before the team started going out to villages. On Infant Welfare Clinic days, I weighed the children and put the weight in a diagram that shows the child’s growth.

General Experiences
I really enjoyed my time in Cameroon. From the very first week I felt at home in Bamenda, although some things still seemed strange to me. The first time at the market, I was really scared. I had the impression that it was so crowded, one man pulled me towards his place and I couldn’t imagine buying anything there on my own. Bamenda seemed so huge and confusing. Today, it is completely normal for me to beat the prices in the market and to move around town on my own. Life in Cameroon became normal for me. When my parents came to visit, they noticed so many things that I had completely stopped seeing as different. They noticed how old the cars are, how poor the environment is and how beautiful the landscape is. Before returning to Germany, my parents told me that I had really become a Cameroonian. One thing that is still striking to me is how friendly and welcoming the people here are compared to people at home. It was so easy for me to meet new people and make friends in Cameroon”.