Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Graduation Day

Congratulations to our participants! Of a total 35 participants we had 16 meet the required attendance to earn certificates for the program! Their graduation ceremonies included songs, sketches and presentations on what the red ribbon of support means as well as words of encouragement from the school principal. Great job everyone and thankyou for your hard work.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Can't do it alone!

Other volunteers are one of our best resources and I'm so glad that Kimi and Isaac were able to come down and help out :)
Thanks to Kimi for leading sessions with me! 

Thank you Isaac for a great job taking photos and staying energized with the participants!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Grassroots Soccer Introduction

Grassroots soccer is a program that was developed after seeing how soccer (football) is loved around the world. The program combines physical activity with key messages about HIV/AIDS. 

In one activity participants dribble around cones or "risks" (like multiple partners, unprotected sex, sex and alcohol or older partners). In the first round each time they hit a risk they have to stop and do a penalty (like jumping jacks). 

IN the second round if they hit a risk, everyone on their team has to do the penalty. And in the third round when anyone hits a risk EVERYONE stops and does the penalty. Through this activity the participants learn that HIVS/AIDS affects them, their family and their community. 

And of course we had to have some play time too! I introduced crab soccer to Togo and they loved it!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Girls' Soccer Team

I don't exactly have a lot of experience coaching girls'  (or anyone's) soccer team, so I copied any drills that I saw them do in "Bend it Like Beckham." They loved it anyway! Hoping to have a good summer practice and an even better school year!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Thank You One World Futbol and Rotary International!

Through the hard work of several PCVs, Togo has received a donation of 4000 One World Indestructible soccer balls. One thousand of those soccer balls were distributed to PCVs to use in their communities. 

The girls soccer team, some of my work partners and me with this amazing donation!
 I'm using the soccer balls to restart the girls soccer team at my middle school. It's been dormant for a few years due to lack of materials (like soccer balls.)

My other project (with much more information to follow) is to use the soccer balls to complete the Peace Corps SKILLZ Grassroots soccer project. They have two programs currently available; HIV/AIDS education and prevention and Malaria and a womens' empowerment project in the works.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Malaria- It's a buzz kill

Malaria accounts for 1 in 5 of all childhood deaths in Africa. My neighbor has gotten malaria. The local health center mainly deals in malaria treatment and maternal care. You can buy (real and counterfeit) malaria drugs from women with trays on their heads at the market. Literally everyone in my village at least knows someone who has been sick with malaria, or died from it.

Well, the night of my 26th birthday I learned first hand how awful malaria is. Just 27 hours into year 26 on earth, I woke up with horrible chills racking my body. At first I was hopeful, after all, it was rainy and my fan was on, but a hand to my forehead quickly made me realize that it was a fever and chills taking over. After pulling on any clothes I could find right over my pajamas, I took my temperature- 102.8. Crap. I figured there wasn't a whole lot the med unit could do at 3 am, and I didn't want to unlock my door and go outside to get the reception to call anyway, so I just tried to go back to sleep.

At 6am I took my temperature again- 104.8 and called. They told me to do a rapid test for malaria and call back. With positive results and fever that high they said for me to come down to Lome a soon as possible and to take the first round of Coartem. I crawled back in bed, a heavy rain had started that would keep me from finding a car down anyway and I couldn't begin the fathom trying to pack clothes- standing up was a trial in itself.

After a while I was able to throw some things into a bag and stumble into the covered hallway in front of my house. The apprentices and my host mom saw me there, sitting on the bench with my head in my heads dripping with sweat. They rushed over, and sat with me until my host dad could come over and help me find a car to Lome.

I was lucky that the car ride to Lome was uneventful, and I made it down in decent time. I met with the PC nurse, Aurelia as soon as I got to the PC office, where she had me eat a little, take more medicine and head to bed. Over the next 3 days I slowly got better with the excellent care of Peace Corps, our medstaff and the comforts of the Peace Corps office in Lome.

However, I caught the malaria early, had access to excellent and competent health care and got to recover in the comfort of Lome and Peace Corps.

For most Togolese people, malaria means the lose of a loved one, long waits at the local dispensaire or health clinic, and recovering at home in the heat without running water or electric.

I recently attended a weekend Malaria training held by Peace Corps in conjunction with the bed net distribution that will be happening in the next few months by the Togolese Government. There we learned about different activities we can do in village such as a bed net fair to teach about repair, cleaning and proper ways to hang it. Bed nets are one of the most effective ways to prevent malaria as the mosquitoes who carry malaria are active during the night.

Malaria remains one of the biggest issues in West Africa which is why the effort to eradicate malaria has become a main focus of West African Peace Corps Volunteers in health.

For more information about malaria check out

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Through the Eyes of Babes

Kids in Togo LOVE photos. Actually, pretty much all people here love photos. It can be a little fatiguing though when everyone wants a photo the second you pull out your camera. So when the kids who were drawing at my house saw my camera and asked for photos again, I passed it off to them to take the pictures. Over 400 pictures and videos later, these were my two favorite. 

Adele doing crazy face- All the kids were laughing when they saw it on the screen. 

This is Jules, Adele's brother and he's got swag.