Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mary is in her new home for the next three months

This update is from Mary's mom. We received an email from Mary on Tues. The trip to Togo was fairly uneventful. Here's part of the email we received:

"Peace Corps met us at the airport and got us through customs, security, etc. and collected all our bags for us. I think everything made it! At least I hope so. I had to do some minor moving around of my carryon luggage, but it all went through and I wasn't charged extra. We had a welcome dinner and then went to bed. I have a mosquito net on my bed, and put on mosquito repellant around 5:30-6 every night because that's when the mosquitos come out.

We've been learning a lot of information in this short time. I'm taking my doxycycline religiously, as we've been told countless times to do. We learned a lot about diarrhea today, and malaria yesterday. I've had a meninigitus, rabies, typhoid, and hepititus a. We'll be getting more shots in the next few weeks, I leave for my homestay tomorrow! It's exciting/scary to think about, but I'm looking forward to getting into the grind of things. I've been sleeping pretty good,still tired, but I'll get used to the time difference."

We got to talk with Mary for a few minutes Thursday, 9/23. It was so good hearing her voice; even though we woke her up. Things are going fine. She is with her new family. The dad is a doctor; the mom makes an orange drink that is sold in the local town; and there are two brothers - 10 and 16 years old.

Mary has a small sitting room as well as a bedroom with a double bed (and a mosquito net!). Since she took single bed sheets, she is making do until she receives the double set we will mail tomorrow. Her family home also has electricity which is really nice.

On Friday, Mary was to begin language school. She had also received her bike. The weather has been rather humid but not too hot. The nights tend to be rather cool.

Thank you to all of you who have asked about Mary, who have replied to emails you may have received, and who will be holding her up during this entire experience.

Until another post - T

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Here are some pictures from my packing...

This isn't even half of it...

He was in my back pack a few minutes before...

So much left to pack..

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Really long days....

I just got off the phone with the travel agency and I leave September 17 for Philadelphia! My flight leaves from XNA at 5:38 a.m. so that I can make the 1:30 registration time. Staging (kind of like an orientation) takes place September 17-18. I will have several longggggg days ahead of me:

September 17:

1:30 p.m. Orientation
3-7 p.m. Peace Corps Welcome/Start of Training program

September 18:

7:15 a.m. Leave for Clinic (lots and lots of shots!)
11:00 a.m. Check out of hotel
1:00 p.m. Leave for Philadelphia Airport
6:40 p.m. Depart for Togo

We fly through Paris to Lome, Togo:

6:40 pm Depart Philadelphia
8:25 a.m. Arrive in Paris
1:50 p.m. Depart Paris
6:05 p.m. Arrive in Lome

That's my schedule so far!

Oh, and here's one interesting fact about the Kabre of northern Togo: They consider children androgynous until they go through a series of rituals that make them male/female.

Monday, June 29, 2009

To Togo I go!

So I came home today from tutoring and blueberry picking to discover the Peace Corps had sent me my new invitation sooner than expected...and it's to Togo!

Togo is a small West African country of around 6 million people located in West Africa between Ghana and Benin. It is also bordered by Burkina Faso. There are at least 60 languages spoken (wow!). The main languages are French (official), Ewe (mainly in the south and Ghana/Benin), and Kabaye (the north and the president's language). The major religions are Christianity, Islam, and Animism. The people are very welcoming and operate on a kind of extended family network (very tight-knit). The climate varies between semi-arid in the north to humid in the south. (I guess living in Arkansas/Louisiana has prepared me for the humidity, right?) The majority of Togolese work in agriculture, growing corn, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava, yams, etc. Other products include cotton, coffee (!!), and cocoa.

As a volunteer, I will be with the Girls' Education and Empowerment program, serving as a Girls' Education Extension Agent. This basically means I will be working in the community to promote female education, both technical and personal, as well as promoting gender equality in the community. I will work on creating community outreach programs and extra-curricular activities literacy clubs, HIV/AIDS awareness programs, and income-generating projects. I'm really excited (and nervous) about this assignment because I was planning on doing something with girls' education as my secondary project anyways.

I will probably be placed in a village, living in a 2-3 room house within a Togolese family compound. I probably won't have running water, electricity, etc., but hey, that's what I bought those head lamps for, right? I will get an all-terrain bicycle and helmet for travel. Clothing is a little more relaxed than Mauritania (no ankle length skirts and I can wear pants!), but still has to be professional. Food: typically corn or millet pate (paste) with a hot, spicy sauce. Rice and beans is also a typical meal (especially for breakfast). I'm planning on planting a garden to supplement my diet.

I will be leaving September 16th. Pre-Service Training (in Togo) lasts from September 18th to December 3rd. My dates of service are: December 3, 2009 - December 5, 2011!