Ava Kabba lo! Il faut revenir vite. Come back quickly. I am going to the U.S. today for two weeks! It’s hard to believe! I am so excited to spend time at home , but I am looking forward to coming back and continuing my work in village. I am currently sitting in the Paris airport, which was quite the culture shock. Yesterday I was in a bush taxi with a goat in my lap and today I’m wandering through shops that sell purses that cost more than I make in a year. I did get to enjoy a chocolate croissant and a latte, which was life changing.
This week has been really busy with work up until I leave. I am working with Eli (director of the library) and Karim (President of the health committee for the community) to do a project on community led total sanitation. Assainissement Totale Pelote par la Communauté. It’s a program where we show the community how open defecation is affecting the health of the community, to encourage the building and use of traditional family latrines. As diahrrea is the leading cause of death of children in Togo, improvement of sanitation in a sustainable way is very important.
We do this by drawing a map of the community that the members of the community create to show where in the community people go to poop in relation to their homes and water sources. It is usually a place on the outside of the community in the bush. I then ask them to show where in the community they go at night if they are sick with diahrrea and everyone puts the red powder to represent poop behind their homes.
When we come back together, we wash our hands and eat rice together. After eating rice we plop down the pile of poop next to the rice to show the flies going back and forth from the poop to the food to emphasize that with open defecation, one is literally eating poop. This is very effective.
After this we ask who is willing to build a traditional latrine at their home to improve community sanitation. I have so far collected over 100 families that wish to build a latrine! After I get back from vacation I will be following up along with the community health workers and Red Cross volunteers to make sure latrines are being built and used. This program is great because it is completely done by the community, it is sustainable, and it is cost effective. Using local resources and man power makes it cost effective. It is sustainable because unlike the concrete latrines that have to be emptied every few years, the traditional latrines can be covered over in 5 years and easily rebuilt. Also, a family is more likely to use a private latrine that they keep clean than a dirty public latrine. This is a program that has been effectively implemented by another PCV and has drastically reduced the burden of childhood diarrhea in Wawa and I hope to implement it throughout all 19 villages in my district.
At the end of yesterday’s presentation the chief of the village presented me with beans grown in Goudévé to give as a gift to my family in the U.S. from the people of Goudévé. I had to convince them that U.S. Customs wouldn’t let me bring a goat instead.
The other project I have been finishing up this week was getting the English class to write letters for the kids I will be talking to in Taylor’s class in the U.S. with the help of Natalie and Marissa. I am looking forward to sharing Togolese culture and my life as a PCV with Americans.
We took moto’s to our favorite restaurant in Kpalime the other day, Bon Vivant, and Marissa’s driver didn’t have change for her, so he offered her this dead bush rat that he hit on the road on the way there. Never a dull moment.
Also, dressmaker apprentices commuting home with their sewing machines on their head.