12 June 2010

Dear Family

9 June 2010
Letter to my family
Dear family,
I’m sitting in my little house, enjoying the cleanliness so much I don’t want to move and disturb it (I had two kids come over yesterday to help me clean). The Country Director and my Program Director came by my house yesterday to interview me for the volunteer leader position. I received confirmation this morning that I’ve got the “job” and I’ll be moving to Atakpamé – a beautiful hilly city in the Plateau region. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be living but there is a house a previous volunteer lived in that is situated on a hill overlooking the city, has floors covered in colorful tile and a succulent lime tree just outside the kitchen window. I’ve got my sights set on that lovely place.

But in the meantime, I’m at home for about another month and a half, in Mission Tové. Fare from the easy-going leavetaking I’d anticipated, I will be running around finishing up a few projects and taking care of a new one – I was just granted the money for a water and sanitation project for which we’ll be building a rainwater-collecting cistern at the junior high where I teach English and have my business club. It’s going to be stressful, but I’m happy to be leaving a physical mark on the community, especially in a way that addresses such a pressing need.

We’re combining the cistern-building with a series of presentations on the importance of washing your hands (with soap) before meals and after using the WC. I’m going to train my business club members to be peer educators so that they will have some investment in the hand-washing element of the project and will hopefully take on some follow-up, making sure the system is used and maintained properly. As part of the workshop, each class will make about 20 liters of liquid soap which should get them through a significant amount of the school year. I’m hoping the combination of better access to clean water and developing hand-washing habits will make a huge improvement on the health of students and thereby their academic (and life) achievements. No small goals here.

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