5 February 2009
I haven’t updated my blog in a while, (it’s always gratifying to received tentative text messages: “Um, Rose... are you okay? Haven’t heard from you in a while... hope you’re not dead...”)
I’ve been traveling – spending weekends and even one full week away from site, but not in places with internet. I try not to leave my site more than once a week at most. Often, I will go into Lomé to pick up mail, visit the office, and use the internet. But sometimes, I have meetings or gatherings or parties in other cities that don’t have the lovely, free (relatively) high speed internet.
The past few weeks I’ve gone to Tsevie and Atakpame and Pagala. I’m working with a friend from my stage on a guide for PCVs wanting to work with NGOs and community groups. It’s interesting and a great way for me to start on the reading and research for an MBA in non-profit management (which is where my thoughts are currently pointing). That was Tsevie.
Atakpamé was to start organizing this year’s Camp Unité. Camp Unité is a yearly summer camp originally created to help address the ethnic conflict and regional division in Togo – hence the Unité (unity) title. There are four weeks of camp – with different campers each week – boy apprentices, girl apprentices, boy students and girl students. We focus on developing life skills among the campers – not just knowledge, but the confidence and motivation to act on knowledge and become peer leaders in their communities. This year we’re particularly making an effort to help turn over the camp organization to a Togolese NGO. So in addition to normal organizational tasks, we are doing capacity building with the NGO: how to fundraise, recruit quality volunteers, make budgets and manage schedules. All very exciting stuff. As a sidenote, some returned PCVs who were organizers of Camp Unité in past years are organizing a sister camp in the US and getting charity status so that families can send their kid to a camp and add a little extra to send a Togolese kid to camp. We’re brainstorming ideas for communication between the camps, etc.
In Pagala, I had a week-long Project Design and Management training with my homologue/counterpart and the rest of my small enterprise development stage. I found the training useful – not because it was new to me, but because it was new to my homologue. I’ve tried going through project design steps with her, but she just want the money to start the project now! Hopefully all the talk of needs assessment, evaluation, project proposals and action plans will help her and I to see eye-to-eye a bit better. I would love to help her expand her business (starting a ready-to-wear stand at the marché) but first we need to think it all through.
Also two exciting bits of news:
1. I can now put my hair in a ponytail. Messy and falls out easily, but still!
2. I got a kitten! His name is Odysseus (Odie, Oddball, Oddity, etc.) because he gets lost and into trouble all the time. Plus he’s rakishly handsome and dangerously seductive, of course. He’s adorable and is currently sleeping on my lap. Awh!
Currently reading: Reversible Errors by Scott Turow