January 30th 8:00 I get a phone call from my homologue telling me that he got a call from the director of my NGO and that I need to write up the invitations for the importants. Being half asleep I agree and wait for him to pick me up. The absurdity of this occurs to me as my brain boots up. The invitations are for a ceremony in an hour. The ceremony is for la remise or presentation of materials for the women’s groups and high school group. Not only this but I have the lowest level of French among the members of my NGO, so why I need to write the invitations is beyond my comprehension. In any case the invitations get written after hunting around the French keyboard for the correct characters (to get to a period you have to shift). The invitations were delivered sometime after 9:30. This however was not a problem because no one had arrived yet. This gave me time to set up the materials (machetes, wheelbarrows, treatment tools, boots, hoes, rakes, watering cans, seeds, shovels, and chicken wire) in some kind of order. At around 10:30 the women’s and importants showed up and the ceremony could begin. This involved everyone thanking everyone one by one and saying a few kind words. Each respective president from each group came up and signed a document of the received materials. Then came the fun part where we got the groups to stand in front of their newly acquired swag and pose for some pictures. We then told them that they were free to take the stuff back with them, this is when they started singing and dancing. I posted some pictures from this event on my flickr account.
So the good news is that most of the needed materials are finally in the hands of the groups and this will require me to help and check up on them regularly (i.e. keep my busy).
My NGO – PELCA had a soirée for the members of the NGO. This event which I was told would involve dancing, food and drink did not start until 12:30pm. The food was not brought out till at least 1am. After which the dancing started. This continued till the call to prayer at 5am. I have to say I still have not found a great appreciation for the Beninese style fête or party. I think it is worth noting the picture of the DJ booth.
Currently I am in Cotonou for the National VAC meeting. (We bring complaints from our region to the attention of the Peace Corps administration) I will be using my time here to get a visa for Niger. Mid February we have a trip planned to go to Mali traveling through Burkina Faso and returning through Niger. I am excited for the trip and especially for our trek through the Dogon country part of Mali.
On a sadder note Benin preformed terribly in the Africa Cup losing to Mali, Ivory Coast and Nigeria; scoring only 1 goal total. It is pretty fun to watch the games on random television sets throughout Kouandé though. With Benin being out I will be looking forward watching the Ivory Coast play the host country Ghana in a thrilling final ending with an Ivorian victory 3-1 to take the Cup.