Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Staying Busy

Hi All!
Nathan and I are in Kara for the night. We leave for Lome tomorrow to
pick up Brad and Sarah at the airport. We're excited for their
arrival! They will be here for a little over a week, and we'll spend
time in Lome, Pessare, and Kara. It will be a whirlwind but we're
excited to show them around and they are quite excited to come. Plus
they are bringing some Starbucks treats (they both work

I have been very busy over the last two weeks. Peace Corps Togo has a
retreat center, Pagala, in the middle of the country. It is a typical
American retreat center…dorms, meeting spaces, a gym, a cafeteria,
basketball court, etc. They often hold trainings there throughout the
year. I went during the last week in July for a Science Training. As
I've mentioned before, I went with the science teacher at the
elementary school in village. His name is Takara, he's about 30, is
married and has two young children. He is very motivated and has
already worked some with Nathan. He came and had a great time. We
talked about why girls aren't encouraged in science, what careers are
available to women in science in Togo (many in medicine), and how to
help girls with science in our villages. There was a big debate about
whether to make science super practical for girls because they will
most likely be using science in the home (example - how to make bleach
since they use it for so many household chores) or to encourage girls
to learn for the sake of learning. I think girls should learn science
because they should be knowledgeable citizens of the world! But I'll
try to keep in practical in my future plans in village as well…did you
know you can make soap from cooking ashes and oil?? Takara and I are
planning on doing a girls' science club, most likely at the elementary
school, but possibly at the middle school as well. We learned science
experiments during the training to do in clubs. As many of you know,
I definitely don't lean towards science, but I have been blessed with
a wonderful education and know more than elementary school girls in
Togo ;-) So I am hoping I won't make too much of a fool of myself
leading talks on science topics. I'll keep you updated!

After Science Training, I remained at Pagala and began training to be
a camp counselor. Camp here is very American, as volunteers are the
people creating it and running it! Just think of a camp you've been
to in the US and transport it in your mind to Togo….Voila! Camp UNITE!
Children come from all over the country to have fun, eat yummy food,
socialize, and learn how to be better people and make better
decisions. We are uniting a diversified Togo (over 50 languages) for
the development of the whole country. Kids love it! For many it's
the first time out of village. Also it's the first time to meet other
kids from different ethnic groups. French is the only language
allowed at camp…You have to do the "chicken dance" if you're caught
speaking another language! They also learn skills to take back to
village. Most likely there is a PC Volunteer in their community, so
they'll continue to work with the volunteer on village projects, such
as an AIDS awareness campaign or a gender equity presentation.

So after a few days of training, the boy students arrived! I was a
counselor for that week as other volunteers will be counselors of girl
students' week. Joel and Deepo came from Pessare. I was so excited
for them and they loved it! We played soccer, learned new songs,
talked about the importance of overcoming obstacles to have a healthy
and successful life…and ended it all with a candlelight ceremony and a
huge bonfire (unfortunately no s'mores!). I plan on working with them
back in Pessare – maybe some community meetings/talks on gender
equity?! As always, I'll keep you updated…

Exciting news…Pierre and Rachel are getting married! They were
married many years ago through a traditional service, but on Saturday
will have their Catholic ceremony. There is a mass at 9am and then a
party afterwards. So Sarah and Brad will be attending a wedding! My
guess is that it will be somewhat western, but we'll see…we'll take
lots of pictures. Plus I need to figure out what Sarah and Brad will
wear ;-)

So we are staying in Kara for the night and are going to enjoy some
rest in the AC! We'll be in touch over the next few days as we'll be
in and out of internet access. Look for pictures possibly tomorrow!
Hope all is well with you all! Thanks for all the support and email
us some time to let us know how you are! Love!

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