Time does fly, I have been in village for a month now. Last weekend I went up to Atakpame, my regional capital, to visit the work space we have there and see some friends. We went to stay with another PCV who lives on top of a mountain about an hour from Atakpame in a beautiful village. We ate Mexican food, chips and guacamole!!! It’s amazing how much I miss variety in food. Then we took a bush taxi up to Mariah’s village and it was just a classic example of how much of a struggle traveling can be in Togo. We waited 2 hours for the taxi to fill up before we could leave Atakpame. The taxi is designed to seat 11 people, but in Togo we had 22 people in the car. There weren’t any animals in it which I always consider to be a win. Then we got to the base of the mountain and another person was waiting for a taxi up the mountain. At this point it was dark and we had an entire stereo system strapped to the top of the van and all the volunteers look at each other laughing like there is seriously no where in this car we could fit another person. Sure enough, the guy climbed on top of the bush taxi, on top of the speakers to ride up the mountain in the dark. I turned to my neighbor and asked if the guy on top still had to pay and he said bien sur! Then on the bush taxi back to our village we rode in a van with a cow standing on top with a net over it.
I have been spending most mornings at the clinic learning from the midwife and assistant of hygiene and practicing my local language skills. I’m starting to put together some trainings to give the women and children while they wait for vaccinations and conduct needs assessments. In the afternoons I like to go to the village library for kids clubs or to hang out with Eli and his family. Eli runs the library that is funded by a French organization, but he also wants to work with me to start a health club at the high school once school gets started. I would also like to be available to help with tutoring at the library after school as needed.
My clinic is generally pretty empty and it isn’t because people in my village aren’t sick. There are barriers to health access that can make it challenging to get to the clinic and afford treatment. I just finished reading ” Your Pocket is What Cures You” and even though it’s set in Senegal there are many similarities in the barriers to health access. I am looking forward to getting out of the clinic and doing more work in the community and in the surrounding villages to talk to people about the barriers to health access and what they want to see improve. It has been a little challenging to get community projects started in neighboring communities as many families are spending their time making extra money before school starts up next week to pay for books and school fees.
A few weeks ago Natalie and I went hiking with Eli on a trail that starts from my village and it was so beautiful! I couldn’t believe what is literally right outside my door. We climbed up through rice fields and coffee farms to the top of the mountain facing my village and we could see all the way to Volta lake in Ghana and the beautiful mountains all around. I am looking forward to spending more time hiking over the next two years.