Monday, April 20th, 2009
One of our indispensable coworkers in Bamenda was Nungu Noel, the brother of Nungu Magdalene.
He and Dan Eriksen provided the safety training and demonstration to each person who received a wheelchair–using the wheel locks, going up and down steps and over bumps, etc.
(Apparently Noel is mainly a man’s name in Cameroon, because often when I introduced myself to people, they turned Noel into Noella.)
Nungu Noel served in this same training capacity during the previous wheelchair mission in 2007, so this time we shook hands warmly and greeted each other as friends:
Me: Hello, Noel. I’m so glad to see you again.
Nungu Noel: Hello, Noel. You’re fatter this time.
Me: Uh, yeah, I guess so.
It took only a split second to remember that’s a Cameroonian compliment. Fat represents beauty, health, prosperity, and being well cared for. That’s always been true, and probably even more now that AIDS is so rampant. In much of Africa, AIDS wears the ominous nickname of “Slim.”
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