Although we often miss so-called essentials from home when we are in Cameroon (I’d pay anything for a potato peeler…why do I keep forgetting to bring one with me?!?), there is so much we can buy locally if we know where to look.
People often ask if they can send me shoes, clothing or other items when they learn what we need, and although I do always take a few bags of toys, clothes and treats on my trips, when it comes to larger purchases we ask people to donate financially so we can do the purchasing ourselves.
For one thing, the shipping of items can get very costly very quickly. More importantly, it is a priority for us to support the local economy in whatever ways we can. When charities send containers full of shoes or other items, the shipping alone can cost $10,000 and oftentimes the items can be purchased at the destination.
Although people mean well, it can impact local economies in a negative way (and the shipping fees could’ve been put towards purchasing the items on-site). I’ve seen firsthand how impactful buying locally can be on this trip.
With funds at the ready (again – thank you!) we go in search of mattresses, blankets and pillows for the boys. Henry knows a local vendor who sells bedding and we go to find him at the market. When the seller learns how many items we will be purchasing from him, his emotions get the best of him and he starts to dance with abandon. He ecstatically tells us that he will be able to feed his family, thanks to this sale. This is the impact of buying locally.