Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New House in Togo

This is Ann’s mom Sally again.  Today is Andy’s birthday (that’s Ann’s dad), so to celebrate, we called Ann!  She was eating her new favorite dinner—a cold spaghetti dish with a sauce made of peanuts, carrots, onions, and cucumbers.  During the weeks of training, Ann’s “mom” has prepared her meals.  But Ann has had cooking classes, so that she will know how to prepare nutritious meals with local food once she and Nathan are living and eating on their own.  It will also be part of Ann’s job to share nutrition ideas with the women in the village.  Ann says that one trick for adding protein to a common bowl of porridge is to add crushed peanuts to the porridge.  Simple trick, but supposedly it’s not easy to convince moms to try this new idea with their children’s porridge.

Ann and Nathan leave on Saturday for a week-long visit at their new post, a small village in the north of Togo.  They are excited about seeing their new house and making arrangements for needed furniture.  According to Ann, she and Nathan will live like the middle class in Togo.  Their “compound” will be five small, circular huts or rooms (about 12’ X 12’), each with a cement floor, mud walls and a straw, conical shaped roof.  The house will have a bedroom (a bed and a chest), an office, a kitchen, a storage room, and a room without furniture for receiving guests.  All of the furniture will be handcrafted for this house; the bed will have posts for a malaria net.  There will be screens on the windows, because that’s a Peace Corps requirement.  The mud walls will keep the rooms cool.    

Big news from Ann and Nathan is that they will soon become the proud owners of two cows!  Nathan will use the cows to teach farmers in the village how to plow with cows, and the cows will live in the garden behind their new house.  I have a hard time picturing Ann and Nathan as the keeper of cows!  Ann assured me that the cows are not for eating.  Nathan has told her that she can name them and can think of them as pets.  Only challenge is that a cat has been Ann’s experience with pets.  They may get also get a couple of goats, chickens, and rabbits, too.  I hope they send us pictures!

Ann and Nathan have both enjoyed the weeks of training but are anxious to move and to begin work.  They take their final French tests this week and have begun learning some of the local dialect.  Ann hopes to be in the city of Kara during the weekend of November 7-9.  She is certain that she will have internet access then and will at long last update her blog.  Ann is grateful for the cards and letters.  She said that she had received one package of much enjoyed M & M’s!  I hope all of you are doing well.  And many thanks for your thoughts and prayers for Ann and Nathan.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Togo News

This is Ann’s mom.  I talked to Ann (10/16/2008) and enjoyed catching up on Togo news.  As we talked, I could hear the rain falling on the tin roof of the home, where Ann is living during training.  Ann and Nathan will go on November 1 to visit the village where they’ve been assigned to work.  Ann says that the Peace Corps is building a house for them.  While they won’t have electricity, they will have a pump for clean water and will no longer have to boil their water or use bleach to make the water safe.  Once in their new home, Ann and Nathan also hope to have access to the internet.  I’m sure you’ll be glad to get first hand reports from them!

One Wednesday, Ann and two other Peace Corps trainees led a middle school class in a lesson on gender equity.  Ann says that it was tricky trying to explain in French the whole concept of gender to middle school students, who are anywhere from 12 to 20 years old.  Yesterday Ann visited a class, where the students were learning English.  The teacher led the class in singing a “Hello” song in English.  One thing that struck Ann is that the students have no books.  Instead, each student makes do with a slate and piece of chalk.

Nathan and Ann are going through the three months of training in different villages.  Fortunately, the villages are only a few miles apart, and Ann and Nathan are able to spend a couple of nights together each week.  Nathan will be in Ann’s village this weekend.

Three weeks ago, I sent Ann and Nathan a package.  It’s yet to arrive.  Ann has received several letters, including one from Brandon (a college room-mate) and one from Megan (seminary room-mate).  She sends her thanks!  Just for your information, Ann and Nathan are waiting until they complete training to send letters to everyone.  Right now, mailing a letter is too expensive.  As Ann explains, she makes 700 CFA a day.  That’s about $1.50.  It costs 650 CFA to mail a letter!  Picking up a package can be as much as 1200 CFA, so Ann has asked me to hold off sending any more packages.  Once they begin service, she and Nathan will each make 4000 CFA a day.

Ann sends her love to everyone.  She assured me that she and Nathan are both doing well.  No major melt downs!  They are both enjoying the training but are looking forward to getting their own place and beginning the two years of service.   

Friday, October 3, 2008

More News From Togo

This is Ann’s mom again.  I had a wonderful phone conversation with Ann.  She is doing fine and misses everybody.  She hopes to have computer access soon.  She herself will then post a newsy update on her blog.

Ann and Nathan have both been busy with French lessons.  Nathan has been planting melons, while Ann has been learning how to repair the brakes and change a tire on her mountain bike.  Ann said that she is trying to ignore all of the insects and “critters”, but she admitted that she had to ask the woman with whom she is living to come and help her deal with the foot long lizard roaming around her bedroom!  The dry season begins in November.  Meanwhile, it is hot and rainy.  Ann said that her feet are always muddy.  She will have to follow the example of the people of Togo, who take 3 baths a day, in order to stay cool and refreshed.  Nathan, meanwhile, is competing with the other male Peace Corps volunteers to see who can grow the longest beard.  It should be interesting to see pictures of Ann and Nathan in Togo! 

Stay tuned for more news from Togo.