Alafia II Fellowship: warm welcome, great impact

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Everything that comes to an end marks in some form or another the beginning of a new. Alafia fellowship II has been an amazing, refreshing, and impactful event  gathering 25 participants from 18 countries in Ivory Coast from 12th to 14th of September. In the following lines, I give an account of my experience hoping it gives you a glimpse of the beauty that comes when like-minded young people gather to exchange, learn and find inner peace.

Ivorian in my past life?

Travelling from Cameroon with 3 other Buea Peace club members (Herdrine, Molinge and Mbua) made the journey very interesting as we had a mix of anxiety and excitement. Anxiety for the unknown and excitement for our expectations. Our flight lasted 2 hours.

Arriving at Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport and going through the routine checks, I was greeted with such warmth and friendliness which got me thinking if in my previous life I was an Ivorian. Surprised and pleased, I asked my other Cameroonian counterparts if they had the same experience and with a grin, they all said yes. “Akwaba” (Welcome) said the ladies holding the Peace Revolution banner as we stepped in to the arrival hall. After introductions, we were offered snacks by the volunteers at the airport so we could wait for other participants and leave as a team for Bingerville. During the wait we bought wifi codes that could enable us communicate with our families and assure them that we arrived safely, knowing we will have restricted access to our phones and internet for the next 3 days.

Welcoming and caring culture

Bonjour et bienvenue, je vous en prie pourrait partagez cet table avec vous, (good morning and welcome, can I share this table with you) said a calm voice behind me. Je vous en prie (you are welcome) I responded. My stranger and I began exchanging a dialogue, and I couldn’t help but ask her if naturally they are taught politeness and decorum or if it’s a special training just for the airport personnel in Ivory Coast. Generally Ivorians are very welcoming and caring, it’s not a special training, it’s our culture, she replied.

Abidjan is a beautiful city with kind people, I thought as we drove off from the airport to Bingerville situated about an hour from the airport. The open warmth of its inhabitants reminded me of Buea in Cameroon, often referred to “the town of legendary hospitality”. On our drive, we stopped to pick up 2 other Ivorian participants who were waiting by the roadside. Their presence in the bus reignited discussions as some recounted their experiences before and after they arrived in Abidjan.

Finally, we arrived at Domaine De La Sablière, Bingerville safely. The first group of participants already on site welcomed us and we all connected seamlessly like old buddies. Everyone was eager to identify their roommate but awed by the serenity of the environment, I dropped my bags and began to tour our home for the next 4 days….

(…to be continued)

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