Monday, May 28, 2007


This week was TDW (Training Design Workshop) for all the volunteers that are going to work stage (French word for vocational training) for the incoming volunteers. The whole purpose of this workshop was to plan the 9 week training and decide who was working what weeks. There were 7 of us for EA (Environmental Action). The sessions took a long time and thanks to Peace Corps Washington were made more difficult than they should have been. We stayed at St. Jean Eudes, this was the same place we stayed when we arrived in country, now exactly 10 months ago. It is a good 20 min form the center of Cotonou which is about a 500cfa ($1) zem (moto-taxi) ride. Of course this didn’t stop us from going into town to enjoy European and other ethnic foods. I also got to see a Reggae show at the French Cultural Center. It was good, all Bob Marley covers. The traffic and pollution is really quite astonishing, especially when you are coming from a small village in the north. The other thing that not only I noticed but other volunteers was our perception of the road to St. Jean Eudes. When we first arrived we saw it lined with run down shacks of shops, but now it was alive with commerce and we could tell what kind shops they were. Its funny how that has changed that at first glance you don’t see anything of importance then now we can tell that this shop is a bar, this one where they sell foam to make cushions etc.

In work related news the Moringa plants are doing well and will be transplanted with in about a week. Our Telefood proposal has been written and I am going to meet with the FAO representative to work out some of the details. The project will help 3 groups of vegetable gardeners in Kouandé, 2 women’s groups and 1 garden club at the CEG (High school). The funding is for about $6,000 and will cover seeds, hand tools, closure for the gardens, 1 well, irrigation systems. It will really help these groups to continue producing vegetables for Kouandé. The goal is they will continue to invest to keep up this process and increase the availability of vegetables and lower malnutrition.

I also decided that since my parents are going on a vacation to the Netherlands I myself could use one. I am in the process of getting Togo and Ghana visas. The problem is that Monday is a holiday and this gives me one more day of hanging around in Cotonou. More as it develops.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Becca Weru. (Welcome)

24 hour electricity has arrived to Kouandé! After a month with nothing (the SBEE took our generator to repair it but never gave it back) the connection to Natitingou has been completed. This took me by surprise on May 8th at approximately 9:10pm as my lights suddenly turned on. The other good news is that the tree nursery with the womens group went well, after the date had to me moved three times because of holidays, a death in the family (therefore visitors from other villages were visiting) and scheduling conflicts with the local gardener. The nursery consist of the 80 Moringa trees, 50 Gmelina and 50 terminalia. In about a month the Moringa should be ready to be transplanted to the field. We also opened an account at the local post office for the group to be able to save money.

I found out that I will be working training for the new Peace Corps Trainees (PCT); a week this month and then again a week next month. The new volunteers (PSL 20) will be arriving in July. It is hard to believe that I have already been here almost 10 months.

I also was voted in as the VAC representative for the Atacora Donga region. (This corresponds basically to the Natitingou workstation area) This is a system for volunteers to air their grievances and problems locally to the VAC rep and then have their issues brought up to Peace Corps Administration.