Per usual, Nathan and I find ourselves back in Kara at the end of the month. We've already done some banking and grocery shopping and are staying the night (hot showers and AC!). April has seemed to have flown by and in only 3 short weeks our first visitor arrives...Brandon! Brandon and I first met as freshman roommates at Duke and remain great friends still today. She'll be in Fance on vacation and is "hopping" down to Togo for a week. We're looking forward to sharing the country and its people with her...and I need to give her payback for making me eat weird seafood and cold soba noodles in Japan for a week ;-) I'm hoping she'll take lots of pictures and do a guest blog post (hint hint) to give you all a fresh perspective. Sometimes I think things become so "ordinary" to me that I forget how unusual or interesting it might be to you. So stay tuned!
School is ending in May and the rains are beginning to arrive. Everyone in village is heading to the fields. Nathan has a few gardening projects underway and I am going to do "Summer Vacation Enterprise" with girls at the middle school. School fees are $5/year but that is extremely hard to come by for many girls, in addition to notebooks, pens and uniforms. I am working with a local micro-finance institution to loan the girls $10 to start a small business. They will pay back the loan in addition to saving money for school fees and supplies. They would usually not have access to the money because one usually has to save with an institution before taking a loan. In this case, I will be their insurance. The employees are being very helpful and are very excited to be a part of the program. I am grateful for their resources and energy. The first meeting with the girls is May 13th, so look for an update next month...how many girls, what small businesses, etc.
Other exciting news...Rachel had her baby! Benoit Jose, a boy, was born at 3am on April 16th. He has a head full of hair and is quite adorable. I visit him everyday and have taken multiple pictures of him for her. She is back to being a full-time mom so there isn't much time for a lot of fuss, so Nathan andI enjoy being the ones to remind her how special he is :-)
Nathan led a wonderful information session at the local elementary school about the importance of planting tees. He spoke energetically in French using lots of visuals while his counterpart translated it into Kabye. The 100 kids were enthralled! They also planted 8 mango trees. I took lots of pictures so hopefully they'll be posted next month when I go to Lome with Brandon.
One great story to leave you with...One Friday night Nathan and I had just finished eating dinner when we heard some kids outside. We called out to them and asked what they were doing in the dark. They replied they were catching insects. I thought, "Cool...like fireflies in a jar." I opened the door to see and asked what kind of bugs. They showed me little ant-like bodies with large wings...not fireflies. I was confused..."Why?" "Well to eat of course!" "OHHH!' I squealed! I thought this was the best thing ever and went outside to follow. I could not stop laughing and squealing as they caught them. The kids thought my enthusiasm was amusing ;-) And the next day...A kid knocks on the door with a bowl of fried termites! Nathan dug right in...I had one. Not much taste. He wanted to give us more but we politely refused. What a great experience!
I biked 30 miles on Sunday...Monday I was wiped! That's enough cardio for me for a while! This week I am making fried bean cakes with a woman in village and taking my best friend, Jesslyn, for her first ever COKE! Thanks for all the wonderful birthday wishes! We had nice birthdays and are thankful for all your love and support!
A couple more things...
1) Cell phone
We have 1980s Nokias..no lie. Be patient if you call. There is no call waiting or voice mail. If it rings and we don't answer, we just didn't hear. Try again. If you hear a French recording, it means the phone is off. Try another time. People have had lots of luck with Skype. We don't have a Skype account but put our number in and it's only 17cents/min. Less than $1 for a 5 min phone call! We can also receive texts from Skype but not from most phones. We cannot text to Skype. Let me know if you'd like our number!
2) My fabulous Sister Sarah is raising money to send soccer balls to kids in our village. Check her out on Facebook to find out more! Thanks Sis!