27 September 2008

back to high school

27 September 2008

Yesterday, I visited a bunch of important people, starting with the dispensaire. The current woman in charge has only been in post for about two weeks. I didn’t do a very good job explaining who I am and why I’m here, but I did mention I’m going to be working with lycéens on “La Vie Saine”. She was willing to see if we could present the HIV/AIDS section together. She recommended that I return with a date and a program and we can talk specifics. She said that she does do sensibilisations on malaria, hygiene, SIDA (although I doubt she’s started doing them here yet since she’s so new.)
After the dispensaire, I went to see the IDH (local microfinance Investir dans l’humaine I think are the initials). A large part of their business is tontine. They go around every weekday gathering the contributions. Many women choose to use their tontine savings to open up an account at the bank. It costs 7.500F to open an account – 5.000F is the part sociale and will be returned when the account is closed. If someone wants to get a loan, they need to have savings for 3 months without taking anything out. They can get up to 3 times the amount of their savings at 13.2% interest. In order to have a loan approved takes about 2 weeks – the application is sent to either Tsevie or Lome depending on the amount requested.
They do sensibilisations on the products they offer, but not in a general way on better business, etc. When someone takes out a loan, they obviously have an interest in making sure it gets paid back, so they follow up with the person and help them keep up with payments, etc.
They don’t work very much with farmers because farmers need loans that don’t require repayment for the first six months. Currently there is no facility for this kind of loan. People have a year to pay it back, but must begin repayments after one month.

In the afternoon of the 26th, I went to visit the proviseur of the lycée, We sat on the steps of the newly-built and still completely empty library with his wife, waiting for him to return from a meeting.
The library was built with donations from the French ambassador and an association of people from Mission Tové who now live in France. All of the donors will be coming to see the new building sometime next week – the date hasn’t been fixed, but I asked the proviseur to call me when it happens so I can be there as well – networking much? I think that filling the library with books could be a really good project – maybe an excuse to visit and enlist the nuns down the road?
The proviseur would like me to come in and teach agriculture, household management, and/or English. I told him those aren’t really my fields, but I can do health and relationships, throwing in some useful household management and income-generating activities (including gardening).
One of the significant problems at the lycée is students dropping out. 11 girls became pregnant last year and left school. Obviously, if they’re getting pregnant, they’re probably not using condoms and therefore they could be putting themselves at risk for STDs including HIV. There are also a significant number of students who drop out because they can’t pay the school fees (17 last year). If the kids can’t find the money to eat, how can they possibly find the money to go to school?
The proviseur worked with a PCV at another school a few years ago. Together they trained up peer educators to help teach health, do condom demonstrations and simply be a good resource for their peers. I’m very interested in doing this, but it would have to be done on Wednesday afternoons or Saturdays to accommodate school schedule and my general wariness about not being home by dark.
The hours of classes:
1 7.00-7.55
2 7.55 – 8.50
3 8.50 – 9.45
9.45 – 10.10 Recréation
4 10.10 – 11.05
5 11.05 – 12.00
12.00 – 15.00 Repos/Déjeuner
6/7 15.00 – 17.00

We looked at the schedule of classes for each year and suddenly started filling in the blanks with my ‘health’ classes. Yikes! I’m going to start teaching on 6 October.

For English, I will begin by shadowing current teachers and helping out with pronunciation. This could possibly evolve to more lesson-plan based teaching, but is more likely, in my opinion, to lead to tutoring individuals or small groups.

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