29 May 2009


Well, I've just spent two days photocopying and stencilling animals onto perfectly color-coordinated folders, writing letters and updates, creating cash flow analyses and lifting boxes...

the training of trainers for camp starts this Wednesday!

Thank you so much to everyone who's shown their support, especially to those of you who donated to the Unite Peace Corps Partnership proposal. We successfully raised 9000 dollars! An amazing feat.

However, we've run into the inevitable exchange rate problem - that $9000 now leaves us about $800 short of what we'd expected. Luckily, we were able to place an additional last minute appeal for the rest of the funding, so if you weren't able to donate before, but can now... please do!

The Peace Corps Partnership page

The Unite Foundation website

18 May 2009

Fast food in Togo

Hello! I hope you are doing well.

I'm in Lome today working on getting all the information to start up the administration of the Karren Waid girls' scholarships. It's all really exciting. Tomorrow I head to the new training site for the group of volunteers who will be arriving on the 6th of June.

Things have gotten pretty hectic at school with students preparing for exams, but I was finally able to get the students to read over your classes' questions. It's always amusing to hear their reactions and try to explain the cultural differences.
In response to:

Period 1—Hello from first period history class! We liked hearing about your day and the sports you play. We all play sports too. We like soccer (what you call football), basketball, riding horses, softball, volleyball, cheerleading, and tennis. We do not know what “star tennis” is—could you explain that to us? Also, we were wondering if there is fast food in any of Togo’s larger cities, like the capital. Thank you for your letters!

From the 4eme class:

Star tennis is the same as table tennis or ping pong.

Fast food

I explained fast food to them as restaurants that you can find all over the US where you can go in and quickly get food and then leave.

The students then listed what kinds of ‘fast food’ they can get.

rice, beans, salad, bread, pineapple, pate, banku (the pate of cassava), fufu, soja, millet porrige.

We find these in the market. We sit on benches and eat quickly. Sometimes we stand up to eat. We eat out of a bowl with out fingers or sometimes a spoon.

Many of the students have not been to any of the big cities yet so they wouldn’t know what is available there. So I will also answer your question myself – there aren’t any of the fast food franchise restaurants like Burger King, KFC or McDonalds here. The ‘fast food’ here is street food – women selling prepared food cheaply and quickly. At any restaurant here, even if all you want is salad, you will almost always have to wait for about 30 minutes minimum to receive your food.

But... I have seen a food place called ‘Al Donald’s’ that is painted in the same red and yellow as McDonalds – and even has a single golden arch as part of its logo!

I have yet to eat there, but I plan on getting a picture :)

Period 2—Hi, we are Ms. F’s second period class. Thank you for sharing with us how your day is structured and what you have for snacks. We liked hearing about the sports you play. We play soccer, track, horse riding, swimming, tennis, and water polo. We also like to dance! We were wondering what subjects you study at school. We study religion, math, English, literature, history and p.e. (physical education). Also, do you have any pets? We mainly have cats, dogs, fish, and birds. Some girls have horses and more exotic animals. Thank you again for writing to us!

From the 6eme class (youngest in the middle school - roughly equivalent to 6th grade)
Subjects we study: English, Math, History and Geography, Civic and Moral Education, French, Life and Earth Sciences, Physical Labor/Field Work, Agriculture, Sports.

Some of the animals we have at our houses: frog, cats, snails, dogs, mouse, ducks, bat, turkey, rabbit, goat, sheep, rat, pig lizard, horse, monkey, chicken, cockerils, crabs, parrots, crocodiles, elephants, and lions
(the last four were a joke - one of the students said his father is an elephant and everyone else chipped in from there comparing their family members to animals. It was very silly and fun)

I'll work on getting a response to the rest of the questions next week!


I've attached two photos of 'fast food' in Mission Tove

The first is of me with the ladies who come to the school to sell food at the break
The second is of a group of apprentices eating during their morning break at the local rice and beans stand.

Published story!

I was selected as a finalist in the National Geographic/Peace Corps short story contest about the food crisis.

Check out my story!

08 May 2009

thoughts on family in Togo

3eme English essays
These are the prompts from the recent practice English exam for junior high students to get into high school. I quite liked these essays, faults and all, so I wanted to share them with you. (I’ve either changed or left out actual names – I indicate male or female with an m or f, respectively, after the name.)

7 may 2009

Write about one of your relatives to anybody who doesn’t know him or her.

Amoko (f)

My Aunt name is Ami. She is a faster than my mother, she have five children.
When she arrived, she bought a new choice.
I like my Aunt very much because she is a good Aunt for my Aunts. She is beautiful. Everyday when I want to school she take me a money. this Aunt is my sincerely Aunt. I decided to go to holydays to her in Lomé. She buy me a new shoes and dresses. I like her very much.

It is a Aunt of I like.

Komla (m)

I went to write about one of the relatives to anybody who doesn’t know him is NOGOLI is fourteen yers old. his is from second
I like him because hi give me the school fees to pay. his is pleasure in her jobs and his help me to travel to America to see my sister

Adzo (f)

My father is called Mr A---- He comes from Kovie in the south Zio district but is staying at Lomé
He is forty-Eight years old and fair in complexion. He is a short man with a braood face and pointed nose. He has black hair. He is an active man. He is a doocther. He like a Football His fife children, two mothers.

Some people say it is important to have children and especially boys. Do you agree with them? Give your reasons.

Yawavi (f)

I give the reasons why the people say it is important to have children and especially boys.
In Europer they have money his give one or two babies. in africa they haven’t money, do they give the children and especially boys to do somethings for them father and one day if the father died the children will replicage his place but if you haven’ any babies the person will cry to you and said are you a true man? because you haven’t babies.
It is the reasons why the people say it is important to have children and especially boys.

Kodjovi (m)

to have the children is very important in this lind or this lif. I will talk of that.

The man or the wif who has not the children they think very much because the child is dear for everybody. If you have the many and you bouild the best house but you have not an other child is very bad. If you are sick your many couldn’t help you but you children can help you. The children help their parents to work and serving in the home and farm. I couldn’t tell the joy wich the parents have when they have the children.

Have the children is very important but the parents must give the best education to their children.

Yawo (m)

Yes I am agree with them that to have a children and especially boys is good.
Because if you have, he can help you in our work in farm, in house, in market and do annother ward in your life.
After this, if the children was in school and after school, if he become a doctor or a famous persons he can give you money to pay you a car or moto, to buld you very big house in the town and give you in town.
If the day of your ceremony of die this boy can give you in cimetry.
the boy can help the familly to give annother baby which can signe the familly name.

It is good to make a boy in our familly.