Micah Ludwig spent the summer in the English-speaking southwest section of Cameroon, living in the city of Buea. The NGO he volunteered with, Social Development International, works with vulnerable groups, including teenage mothers and poor families.
Ludwig spent part of his time volunteering at a health clinic affiliated with the NGO. He shadowed doctors and nurses, helped patients into examination rooms, and took vitals and sonograms. By doing this work, he learned about the common health problems in the community, including, he was surprised to discover, diseases that he thought primarily affected people in affluent countries, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
“Their diet is changing; their lifestyles are changing,” Ludwig said. “They used to be farmers, and now they’re eating more meat and processed foods.”
Ludwig’s other task over the summer was to offer health information sessions to educate different groups — such as students or church youth groups — about sanitation, STDs, how to find subsidized healthcare, and the importance of healthy diets in preventing illnesses.
Ludwig said wherever he went, he was always warmly received, sometimes in ways that made him feel self-conscious. “The school groups, church youth groups, they’re so welcoming. They treat you like you’re a very special person,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’m not that important!’”
Ludwig said he’ll incorporate his Cameroon experiences into his classes, particularly one he’s taking this semester, The Politics of Development. And he’d also like to speak at local elementary schools.