Saturday, July 7, 2007

In case you haven’t realized, I pre-write my entries during the week. Then, while waiting for the internet to load, I type them in Word. Internet here literally gives me a headache. Ok, on to the interesting stuff.

My home for the next two years is Sagbiabou.
Don’t look for it in your Lonely Planet books. You might find it on Google maps, but it’s a tiny dot on our four foot Togo map , so good luck. It’s 30km southwest of Mango in the Savannah region, which is the furthest north. I have two years in the hottest part of Togo ahead. Glad I brought along 36 rolls of film to fry.

What else do I know about Sagbiabou ? It has about 2,000 inhabitants, no electricity , pump and well water and cell phone reception. I’ll get back to you on that after post visit during week seven. I’ll be working with the staff at the dispensary, hopefully creating fabulous health education plans. I believe there’s a middle school five or six kilometers away, and I’d really like to work with youth and women.

My closest CHAP neighbor will be in Dapaong. If you visit, you should look into flying into Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. Apparently it’s cheaper, and it’s just about as close to Sagbiabou as Lome is.

So we wished the week away anticipating our post assignments, and the Fourth of July holiday helped the time pass. That morning, 12 of us hiked Mout Agou in five hours. We didn’t make it to the official peak because the guards demanded 2000 CFA ($2) from the group to pass their little rope road block. The top was just around the corner, and we decided to keep our money and go back down.

In the afternoon, we had a party at our Tech House. I made pasta salad with another trainee and others brought guacamole, brownies, fried tofu with hot sauce (bought from a toothless old man on the street – he’s cute, not sketchy), cornbread, french fries and fried chicken that was alive that morning. I thought it went well, for a Fourth of July celebration abroad.

Our technical classes became more interesting this week, which also sped up Friday’s arrival. On Tuesday, we weighed babies, Thursday we did home visits and yesterday, we gave short presentations (causeries) to a small group of random Togolese.

Most of the babies screamed and fought – who wants to hang from a scale in plastic underwear in front of mom and 14 white girls anyway ? – and the home visits were awkward. We broke into small groups and popped into homes to ask questions about children’s vaccinations, mosquito nets, water sources and waste disposal. It was practice, just as the causeries were, but it was still awkward. I expect it will be even more awkward at post when there are no other Americans to help ease tension with jokes. Then again, I won’t be reading questions off a sheet of paper.

Next week, we’re going on a three day field trip. More on that next time. Still waiting for letters.