Monday, July 28, 2014

Pathways Togo

At my middle school here in Togo, the sixieme (6th grade) class is 50/50 guys and girls. By the time you get to troisieme ( 9th grade) there are only about 12 girls in a class of 55.

There are many reasons why girls drop out; sexual harassment, school fees, pregnancy, a lack of familial support, because her school fees were used for her brothers education, etc. Pathways provides scholarships on the middle school, high school and university level based on need and merit.

Many scholars on the high school and university level have said that they would have stopped their studies a long time ago if it wasn't for the financial and moral support of Pathways.

Today kicks off the start of the Pathways conference for our middle school scholars and their mentors, with the high school conference following.

There is only one paid staff member of Pathways Togo, a Togolese counterpart who works in the office year round. Every other person working with Pathways is here as a volunteer. This allows for your donations to make a bigger impact. This year 9 new scholars were added to the program who, as long as they keep their grades up, no longer have to worry about how to pay for a school uniform or how to pay for university in years from now.

If you have some money to spare, consider donating to help another girl secure her education and future.

Donate at . Donations are tax deductible and will help make a huge impact in the life of a Togolese girl.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Have you ever seen the sunrise turn the sky completely red?

People always think I'm silly because I'll just stand outside and look at a sunset or the stars at night. They don't realize that the number 1 rule for Peace Corps Volunteers is "do what makes you happy."

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Post Visit V2.0

These two weeks mark the very stressful and somewhat scary walk into the unknown for the new group of future volunteers- also known as Post Visit.
Stage or training is a bit like being wrapped up in bubble wrap and being spoon fed for 10 weeks. In contrast, being at post is being shoved out of the birds nest on a high high cliff and hoping you fly. This two week post visit gives the trainees a chance to test their wings a bit first.
Many of the COS-ing volunteers are focused on their upcoming return to the USA and all the worries that accompany that and aren't necessarily in a great headspace to welcome the new and shiny trainees. In addition, camps are in session and people have been pulled away for that as well. All this to say that I have three future neighbors by me and I get to show them around a little bit and help them settle in.
One the the three, Luke , is at a new site and in a small village which means they very VERY excited for his arrival. I got to go over, check out his house and make sure it was ready for him. But the part that was way more fun was being there for his arrival.
The village pulled out all the stops and they held a proper ceremony for him. We danced, listened to many speeches, danced, listened to speeches and danced. And then we danced a little more. The village got a big kick at seeing me a Luke trying out traditional dances. And because they pulled out all the stops, it's forever in memory because they had a photographer and film being taken of the whole thing.
More than anything it showed me how far I've come in the last year. It's a really nice feeling to be able to take the lead, know what's going on and be able to help out the new volunteers. I could actually greet everyone and a little bit more in Ewe, I knew the format of the program and my dancing has improved. :)
I'm really happy to have made it this far and very happy to be here for the next year. I've certainly had more than my share of doubts about being here but I'm very content with my decision to stay and continue my work, moving towards bigger and better projects.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Camp Joie

I had the honor of helping out with Camp Joie for the past week. Camp Joie is a week long camp for physically handicapped youth in Togo run by Peace Corps volunteers and Togolese counselors. The week focuses on the rights of handicapped people and children, learning about the causes of handicaps and dispelling myths about them (many people believe that handicaps are because they slighted God or because someone did sorcery against them), connecting with other handicapped Togolese youth, learning about sexual health, puberty, and HIV / AIDS. The week, like camp in the USA was fun, featured a lot of singing, talent shows and by the end, exhausted counselors. 

It was a ton of fun but I'm glad to finally be back at post and at a slower pace (at least for a little while).
Here's a few favorite moments from Camp Joie 2014.

Thank you to everyone who donated to Camp Joie and made it possible.