Sunday, February 20, 2011

20 February 2011

Well, I had electricity longer than any other Pagala volunteer has ever had electricity. It was only for a month; yesterday, the Chinese engineers packed up a giant truck for Sokode and left an empty house in Pagala. With them, they took the electricity that they’d so generously loaned to me. People say that Pagala is getting electricity, but I don’t actually believe it, and even if we do, I’ve been told it’s not coming to my neighborhood. Oh well, at least now I’ve earned back to right to brag about living 2 years without electricity or running water.

Also this week, I had 50.000CFA stolen out of my purse in the volunteer lounge in Lome (about $100USD) and I ran out of gas for my gas stove. Things were going all too well for all too long. Thanks, Togo!

In other (better) news, projects are starting and I have lot of ideas for other projects to start. Biggest project right now is building 20 latrines in Pagala, but we’re working on getting the price down from the original 15.000.000 CFA estimate to about 3.000.000 CFA. We’ve had to revise the plan a little bit, but we’re sticking with it, people are excited and motivated, and people are doing their parts to get the project up and running. I also have a group of apprentices that Djobo and I are teaching each week about gender equality, HIV/AIDS, drugs and alcohol, French, and business skills. Pretty broad range. So far, it’s not going very well. Having trouble motivating the kids to get excited and/or speak up about anything. One problem for sure is language. Most of the time, when kids become apprentices, they’ve dropped out of school early having only finished elementary/middle school. This means they haven’t had a lot of time to study French and most speak only in local language to each other. Djobo is there, luckily, and he speaks 5 languages which helps. But we’re still having trouble with them. We’re doing to do ice breakers and more interactive activities, so I hope that helps. Keep you posted!

I ended up getting a new seamstress to work with. My old one was just not working out. She wasn’t a good teacher, she always wanted money, and I felt she constantly took advantage of me. My new one is great! She understands that I’m just doing it for fun. I got a sewing machine at my house so she lets me take work home, and I go to her place one day per week. She also talks me through how to measure people and how their measurements line up to cutting the fabric and sewing it together. I can’t do anything complicated yet, but hopefully one day!

Next week, I’m heading up to Burkina Faso with my boyfriend and several other volunteers. Fespaco, the biggest West African film festival, is going on from February 25 to March 5. We’re really excited because it only happens in Burkina Faso every 2 years! The visa we got is a 60 day visa good for 5 different countries in West Africa – Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, and Benin. We’re going to try to make a trip at the beginning of April to Benin, so we will have seen all of the countries surrounding Togo. I think I’ll be ready for a real vacation (OUTSIDE of Africa) after that.

As always, thanks to everyone for following my blog, keeping in touch, sending goodies, etc. It’s almost been 9 months in Togo! Only 17 months left on March 5.

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