Saturday, May 30, 2009


As Nathan says...Who needs a washer and dryer, when you have a husband?!! ;-)

Me in Action

So on Monday I did a session with elementary-age girls in village on sanitation. My volunteer friend Brittany came to help, and Brandon got to see "Girls Education" in action! We taught them about the necessity to wash their hands before cooking or everyone in the family might get diarrhea. And if everyone does get sick then how to prepare an oral rehydration solution (salt and sugar added to water). We also taught them how to make lotion from soap (soap, oil, and water) as an income generating activity (they can sell little packets in market). It took 2 hours and the girls seemed to really enjoy it. It was also good French practice...I still get nervous speaking in French in front of lots of people, but I think it went well! Here's me talking...

Bean Pancakes

Other recipe from me! I made these pancakes (made with bean flour) with a woman in village. They are cooked over a wood stove and topped with red palm oil and red powdered hot peppers! Yummy!

On the griddle!

Pounding the hot peppers!

The finished product...And you have to eat it with your hands!

Family Portraits

We are often asked to take pictures for families, as there is no other camera in village, besides mine and Nathans. Here are a few of the recent pictures I've taken. I hope to have them developed here in country (yes, it is possible) and give the families a copy to keep. I know they will forever treasure them, as they are such a rarity!

Benoit Jose Koudina - 1 week old

Pierre and Rachel's children: Joel, Arnold, Maggie, Kevine, and Reine; they are all dressed in matching outfits for their late grandfathers funeral.

Koulu and Jesslyn and their four children. They put on their finest for the picture and were quite pleased!

Brandon and I!

Having Cokes in the nearby town Siou with a friend, Christine.

At the pool in Kara!

Bye Bye Brandon

Hello All!
Brandon and I find ourselves in Lome, a capital that is busy, hot, and rainy!  We arrived yesterday and enjoyed a nice evening of wood-fired pizza, wine, and creme brulee.  After a sweaty night of sleep, we are on her last day here.  It is overcast and drizzling.  Her flight leaves this evening, and I will drop her at the airport.  Before that we are heading to the Grand Marche (large market) for some exploring as well as grab some more local food.  Not as good as last night, but Brandon has surprisingly enjoyed Togolese food.  She has found the heat surprisingly hot and the transportation surprisingly bad.  But overall I think she's had a good time...And ready to return home!  I'm proud of her for venturing over here.  We'll wait and see her post...But I hope she says she enjoyed her time while still finding the adventure demanding at times ;-)  She confessed today she thought there would be a plethora of croissants since Togo was a French colony...sadly no :-(  But we have wonderful people who make really good pounded yams! Stay tuned for her post...

I will be in Lome until Monday completing my quarterly report.  I will attempt to upload pictures to the blog later today so check in later.  Nathan reports that all is fine in village...little rain there and everyone is in the fields!  Our latrine is being built and we still hope to move by mid-June.  We should be in village much of June and are looking forward to our next visitors, Brian and Miriah!

Hope everyone is well!  Much love!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

First Recipe for Cookbook!

Here's my first entry for the Togolese Cookbook...from a fellow volunteer! See what you think ;-)

Viandes d’Sésame (cuisine Béninoise)

1 ½ cups sesame (makes approx 15)
1 small can tomato paste
1 egg
1 Maggi cube (chicken bouillon)
3T corn flour Spices :{ mixture} ground garlic, ground ginger, cayenne, blk. pepper, salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 ½ cups H2O
1 onion -chopped
4 green hot peppers
Vegetables and Meat can be added according to preference: {normally served with cabbage and carrots - Carrots, onion, hot peppers, green pepper, cabbage, green beans, chicken, fish, and beef

1. Mix the spices in a small bowl to form a sauce with a bit of water added
2. Grind the sesame to form a paste (water should be added in the process)
3. Reserve a small portion of the sesame paste and set aside. With remaining mixture, stir in one egg, 3 T corn flour and a pinch of salt till paste thickens
4. Boil water in a medium sized pan, add Maggi cube and a portion of the spice mixture to make a broth
5. Drop spoonfuls of the sesame mixture into the boiling water and heat until the balls float to the top –remove from heat and set aside
6. In a separate saucepan, mix can of tomato paste, oil, onion and heat (if possible add a small amount of diluted potassium-brown-)when in Togo
7. Slowly stir in sesame balls and the broth, reserving a portion of the broth aside. Add the remaining spice mixture and sesame paste and stir until boiling. (remaining broth can be added if needed) Add vegetables and pre-cooked meat if desired.
8. Simmer until vegetables are tender.
9. Serve over rice, polenta (pâté), or my favorite Fufu (pounded yams).

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Pictures

Take a look on Nathan's blog for some new pictures
I will have a huge update posted next week so stay tuned.

A Typical Day in Village

A look into our daily routine...

5:15AM - Wake up; the sun is shining and Asher is wide awake running around and whining

5:30AM - Take Asher for a short walk and disassemble the bed (we set up a mattress with a mosquito net every night outside in the middle of the courtyard - way too hot to sleep inside!)

6:00AM - Boil water for hot tea and drink (I have mine black and Nathan has his with sugar and powdered milk)

6:15AM - Nathan goes to pump water and bring it back to the house.  When full, the containers are too heavy for me to carry!

6:30AM - Feed Asher milk and a hard boiled egg (we don't have much dry dog food and it is expensive!).  Beepo, his brother, comes over for milk as well!  I usually add a Luna bar to my breakfast, and Nathan makes a shake with Ovaltine, powdered milk, sugar, and water. 

7:00AM - I read a book for fun or prepare my lesson for school.  Nathan is usually playing with Asher or sweeping the compound (he likes to clean!).

8:00 - 11:00AM - I am typically at school.  It takes me 15 to bike there.  I usually buy a bowl of corn porridge from a local woman as a mid-morning snack (I buy .05 cents worth)!
Nathan visits different gardens, takes Asher to visit neighbors, and/or talks and works with his counterparts, Pierre and Koulu.

Noon - Lunch!  It is often very light due to the heat...Neither of us have much appetite and it is too hot to stand over the gas stove in the hut.  Sometimes I buy rice and beans with tomato sauce from a neighbor (we order .25 cents worth!) or we make popcorn.  Asher eats some dry dog food and a can of sardines.  We also have a Propel or Gatorade.

1:00 - 3:00PM - Nap time.  I read, do Sudoku, and sleep.  Nathan reads and listens to his iPod.  Asher is zonked for the whole time - he is an African dog and knows that midday is time to sleep!

3:30PM - Take a cool bucket bath

4:00PM - I go to French tutoring at the English teacher's house.  It takes me 10 min to bike there.  Nathan goes to Kabye tutoring at an elderly gentleman's house in village.  Takes him 10 to bike too.  Asher sometimes goes with us when we feel like walking!

5:30PM - Both back at the house.  Nathan takes Asher for a 30 min walk.  I start dinner...All of this in the impending darkness.

6:00PM - Dark.  We eat dinner and listen to the BBC on the radio.  Asher has a little more dog food and a couple of bites of human food. 

7:00PM - I bathe with warm water - I leave a bucket in the sun all day ;-)  Nathan washes the dishes and we set up the bed.

7:30PM - I get in bed to read. 

8:00PM - Nathan bathes and then gets in bed to read.  Asher is fast asleep!  Night, night.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Still Hot ;-)

Hi All!
I find I begin most of the posts the same...yep, we're back in Kara  And, yes, had breakfast (cafe au lait - instant Nescafe with sweetened condensed milk - and crusty bread smeared with mayonnaise), went to the bank, and went grocery shopping (bought canned mean and well as, surprise...Pringles!)  As I write this I wonder how I have lost weight?!

All volunteers have their bi-annual report due next week so I will start that on Excel following this post.  Our friends Brian and Miriah are coming to visit in July and bringing a computer for us with them.  I am looking forward to getting some tryping done at home - especially for reports - before coming to the internet cafe.  And, yes, no electricity in village, but we can charge it once a week in our market town.

Our big news is that we are moving houses.  This is not our decision, but one we are OK with and when we are feeling positive, find ourselves excited about.  There have been security concerns about our current house's location as we are outside the center of village and don't live within another family's compound.  If we were to yell, no one would hear us.  Thus, it was the PC's decision to move us.  We are going to a smaller house, but just as nice - square, cement, three rooms, new latrine.  We will also be living in a family's compound.  The mom's name is Yvette.  The house is across from the market and next door to the local dry-goods store.  We are excited about the locatioin but a bit sad to be leaving Rachel and kids.  We are also a bit overwhelmed with the whole moving process.  But we will make a point to still see the family often, and Nathan has located a 4x4 truck in another town to help us move furniture.  We should be moved by mid-June so look for pictures in July.  And send positive thoughts our way ;-)

Otherwise, for work-related news, teaching has now ended, and exams are next week.  I am looking forward to the break and change in routine, but will miss the kids.  My summer project to help school girls start small businesses to pay for school is off to a slow start.  I have 5 girls who are interested; I was hoping for 10.  But I am excited to work with them and hope we'll have a good time and learn a lot together.  Also, next week I am doing a health information session at the elementary school with my volunteer friend Brittany.  She's a health volunteer and we're going to talk to the girls about the importance of sanitation around the house.  We have lots of posters and hands-on demonstrations so should be fun. 

Plus, Brandon arrives this weekend!  It should be a whirlwind adventure - one that I can fill you in on next week when I'm at a computer in Lome.  Plus look for Brandon's post; she's already agreed!  Pictures will be up next week including ones of my latest cooking lesson, Nathan teaching at the elementary school, and doing things in village with Brandon!  Stay tuned!

Oh, and last night...Nathan killed another scorpion and a mouse :-(  Yuck!  Nathan may post a picture soon for you on his blog...check it out!

As always, thanks for all your love, support, and prayers.  We miss you all dearly and I long for the comforts of Americas.  But we're here and chugging along...please continue to keep in touch!  Much love!