Spending two years in Bafilo!

Bonjour mes amis!

I finally got to a computer to post a new entry! I know it has been a while so I will try to do a brief yet comprehensive summary of the past few weeks...or maybe just the highlights.

First, I think it is important that you know that my computer was stolen a couple weeks ago. Basically, someone cut the mesh screen (for mosquitos) off my window and took it off my desk. I do not suspect my host family but for my safety the Peace Corps moved me to another. This whole thing seems to be an isolated incident.

No worries though! All is well and my sister will be getting me another soon.

Other than that, here is what I have been up to lately:

Last Friday, a day later than expected, all of us Peace Corps trainees (PCTs) were told information about where we will be posted. I will be placed in a city called Bafilo, located in the north east of Togo. It is fairly close to the border of Benin.

I will not really know exactly what I will be doing until I get there but was given a broad overview of the projects the current volunteer is doing there now. He hosts a radio show to broadcast information about the plant called Moringa. It is known as the miracle plant because of its vast nutritional benefits and general uses. I suggest you look up more information about it. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs including weavers and an information technology shop owner. There are also several schools in the area he has also worked with. Next Saturday, all PCTs will have a week to visit our posts and find out more info about them, so I will definitely know more then.

Oh and the best news is I will have electricity and running water at my post!

While that was one of the things I really enjoyed this week, we also had the opportunity to talk with the Ambassador of Togo. She came to talk about the political situation here but we also got to ask a lot of questions afterward.

We ended up using part of the time to get current events information. Since we have been here, I have had virtually no access to worldwide news. While my host family has a TV, I have not watched it.

Anyway, the Ambassador was really nice and very honest, which I really appreciate. She even told us that we can come over to her house to swim in her pool anytime we want (an offer many volunteers already take advantage of in Togo). However, she is retiring soon, so I wonder if that offer will still be available with her successor...

Other than those things, we have been busy learning about our bikes, Togolese culture, health and of course, le Fran├žais! We usually spend 20 hours/week learning French. I did not realize this until now, but that adds up to about 160 hours in our 8 weeks. When compared with a 4 hour French class for one semester, it adds up to only about 70 hours.

In addition to French, we just started learning our local languages. There are over 40 in Togo, but in Bafilo the locals speak Kotokoli/Tem (in addition to French). Saying "hello" sounds something like "Ba Vinny Kah Zoh" and usually proceeded by questions like "How is your family? How is your patience? and How are the children?" before the greeting is complete.

In the midst of all this training we are doing something similar to an internship. In pairs, business PCTs work with an enterprise or individual entrepreneur as a consultant. We meet with them once a week to gather information. Before completing our training we will have to present to them suggestions for improvements...en Fran├žais. My group was assigned a menuisier (carpenter) and the others are working with a photographer, seamstress, and hairdresser.

Well, that is all I have time for now but I am aiming to post updates weekly. We will see how that works out but until next time,

Au Revoir!