[This post was written by Rylan, a new volunteer at the Himalayan Institute Community Center in Cameroon.]

The region is so hilly that it’s nearly impossible to take in all of Kumbo at once, but from the top of one of many rolling hills, you can get an impression. The city manifests itself as clusters of glinting tin roofs, embedded within the overpowering green, crisscrossed by brown dirt roads. It’s difficult to find exposed earth in Kumbo—so much of its flat land is devoted solely to corn, year after year. The corn feeds the chickens and is the main ingredient in fufu, West Africa’s staple carb. Where the land is steep, farmers grow eucalyptus and huckleberry greens.
Carpentry and mason work are done with very simple tools. The countryside is dotted with simple structures and scaffolding made from raffia palm, whose bamboo-like limbs are lashed together. More durable shops and houses are made with boards and iron nails. Oftentimes the boards fall into neat rows of equal length, lined up on top of each other. The missionary buildings and the more affluent houses are made of brick or large stones and mortar.
The people of Kumbo are incredibly laid back. It gives the women a permanent half-smile and the men an air of machismo which underscores an incredible strength. You will never hear a local man or woman complain.