I bought a fridge last week, which makes me pretty fancy. I was able to barter it down to 50,000 CFA (starting from 150,000 CFA), which is about $75 and honestly worth every penny moving towards hot season and drinking cold water will change my life. It’s a lot of money to spend as a PCV about 2 weeks pay, but it’s all about keeping up that santé mental. It’s not even to buy fancy things like cheese or milk or meat, but instead just so I can cook more than one meal at a time and keep produce from going bad as quickly. Nothing feels worse than throwing out food that has rotten over night when neighboring children have bloated bellies. I don’t think I could ever work at another restaurant again because the waste alone would make me crazy.
After feeling like the fanciest person ever and having just about every person in village come over to see my new fridge (wasn’t a huge fan of this) we then had a power outage for a week. Before the power outage the water pump wasn’t working so I had to trek for my water and now that the electricity is back my stove has run out of gas and I can’t cook food. I have instead been eating with neighbors and giving them gifts of bread and fruit for feeding me, but worst of all I have had to go back to boiling my water for my filter over a fire. So maybe my fridge is posh corps, but only kind of.
Sunset over the rice fields near my village
Yesterday, I went on an adventure with Natalie and Marissa with a co-teacher at the school Nat works at. He came over and asked us if we wanted to go for a drink, and we are never ones to turn that down. He took us to meet his brother who currently lives in Ontario, Canada and is visiting for a while. They took us up a mountain near my village to see the small village they grew up in, it was so beautiful. From there we hiked up further to see their family’s palm wine and sodabe distillery. It was essentially like a back woods moon shine operation that we got to help with and then do some ceremonial drinking. It was a great time, and unfortunately since I didn’t have electricity all week my camera and my phone were dead and I couldn’t take any pictures, but Nat took videos with her GoPro so hopefully I can put those up sometime.
The distillery was a barrel over a fire with tubes that dripped into three other barrels that then filtered down into a glass bottle. The palm wine is extracted from Palm trees where a notch is cut out and a tied up bunch of burning straw is put into the notch and we all blew into it with long copper pipes to extract the liquid from the Palm to drip down into a bottle. It’s a painstaking process which they apparently have to do 50 times a day to 50 different trees.
The guys working there thought we were hilarious for greeting them in Ewe and after being given wine pouring some on the ground to share with our ancestors, also said in Ewe, and then downing the glass. The Togolese way, don’t judge its integration. So all in all a very productive work day and made some new friends who want me to come give a talk on HIV at their little school up on the mountain, which I am looking forward to doing. After the drinking we hiked back down to the village and had a feast of fufu, of course, and real wine that our Canadian friend Maurice brought with him to share with us. After eating we walked down to the primary school to look at it and look at the family’s beautiful farm that overlooked the sunset behind the mountains. It was wonderful. We then went back up to their house and took a moto home down the mountain, back to my village.
Today I started a project for world hand washing day, which is on Thursday, but I’m turning it into world hand washing week by going to different schools in my district every day this week to talk about the importance of hand washing. Today’s presentation was at the middle school and I looked down half way through to realize my skirt was on inside out. This is what happens when I have to be somewhere at 6am. I have never seen so many kids excited to wash their hands so I still think it’s a win. I’m doing it every day this week so tomorrow I’m going to look in the mirror before I leave the house.
The presentations at the schools are to help start a health club at the library with middle school and high school students. We talked about germs, immune systems, and the spread of disease. We talked about washing hands, did demonstrations, and played a game where I put oil on my hands and then everyone walks around greeting each other. Anyone with oily hands at the end has the ‘germs’ and if they don’t wash their hands they would get sick from them. This is not something I came up with it’s in our toolkit, but it proved to be a very effective demonstration. I also did a demonstration for how to make our own hand washing stations called a tipy-tap that is made out of recycled bottles that can be put around the village and at schools.