A Very Sweaty Christmas

Nothing puts you into the holiday spirit like getting detained by the police. The day before Christmas a few volunteers came to stay at my house wanting to do the usual tourist activities in the area. I had arranged motorcycle taxis and we were going to visit the German castle and a waterfall, then finish off with some good food and beer. It would have been a great way to start out the holiday.

So we traveled up the mountain to the castle that I have visited many times and when we arrived a man rolled out of the bush. Now, in Togo you can usually tell who has authority. They are usually dressed nicely and speak French well, this man however did not fit that description. He demanded money to visit the castle and said he worked for the district. I said that I had been here before and never had to pay. He began to scream at me and push me so I walked around him and went into the castle. We are often stopped for money by random people on the street so this didn’t feel out of the norm. About 15 minutes later the police roll up on their motorcycles and we realized we were definitely missing something. The police officer came into the castle and I went to greet him with the sign of respect where you shake hands and grab your right elbow with your left hand while greeting him in Ewe. To which he responded in French, are you trying to teach me my own language? I knew that things would go downhill from there. He brought us back to the station, where we asked if we could simply pay and leave or if we needed to go to the district to pay and get a permit to visit the site. He continued to yell at us and not give us a reason for holding us. We called our security officer at Peace Corps and the police officer yelled at him as well. After over an hour we were getting frustrated and asked the police officer if we could leave. He turned to us and said ‘you didn’t come here voluntarily, I brought you here’ at which point we started to freak out. We called our security officer again and as PC has connections with the police throughout the country he said he would call the police in Kpalime to come release us. During this time two huge tour busses roll up this horrible rocky road and a man gets off, he told the police that he works for the office of tourism in Lome and that we were with them. He told them we were under their permit to visit the castle and he had to release us. So we were released and for the first time I wasn’t able to get out of a situation by being culturally appropriate or using local language or knowing the right people or any of the skills I have developed from living here for two years, but instead we got off by pretending to be confused tourists. On the way down the mountain and back into town we were stopped by the Kpalime police who apologized and told us that they really respect Peace Corps and were ashamed of what the police officer on the mountain had done.

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So we left the police and went for a swim in a waterfall and ate good food and drank beer because after all it was still Christmas Eve.

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For Christmas Day several other friends came from around Togo to have Christmas together. We made a lot of good food at my house and gave gifts to the kids in village.

After the New Year I had a conference up North on raising rabbits, which is a project I will be starting next week to improve nutrition. Now that Harmattan is in full swing the dust storms are terrible and travelling home from the conference was filthy. In some areas the dust was so thick you couldn’t even seen oncoming cars or motorcycles.

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It is good to be back in village and after a long few months of slow work first from rainy season and then from the harvest, it is finally my busiest time of year for work. I have several projects that I need to finish up in my last 6 months! Then next month a good friend from home is coming to visit me and then I go to Tanzania!

From a Northern market.

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Senegal

After the STOMP out malaria conference I took 4 days of vacation to travel around Senegal over Thanksgiving.

Erica (another Togo PCV) and I joined a group of Senegal and Madagascar volunteers to travel up to Saint Louis. We spent a couple days eating wonderful food, listening to music, and shopping at the market. Saint Louis was the former capital of French West Africa and the first place to be colonized by the French, it is a long island that is connected to the mainland by a bridge built by the same architect that built the Eiffel Tower. The colorful colonial houses used to house the French and in the center is the Governor’s mansion.

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On the way down to Dakar we stopped in the desert to ride camels across the sand dunes in Lompoul.

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Dakar was by far my favorite part, we only had thanksgiving in there, but it was an incredible day. We started with French pastries and espresso before getting on the ferry to Goree, an island previously used by the French to facilitate the entire West African slave trade. We visited the house where slaves were kept, but due to the rocky coast few were shipped out through Goree in comparison to the slave castles I visited in Ghana. Goree is a beautiful island that doesn’t allow cars and is full of art and crafts markets. We wandered around the cobbled streets for the morning and ate seafood on the beach before taking the ferry back to Dakar.

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With only one day in Dakar we rushed in a taxi to the North of Dakar to take a fishing boat to Ngor island. We managed to stop along the way for Touba coffee, something I became addicted to in my time there. It’s street coffee mixed with spices sold out of a giant pot.

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Ngor, a beautiful little island known for its surfing has crystal clear waters. One end of the island sits facing Dakar with calm, clear waters and the other side is a rocky coast with huge waves crashing on the cliffs. We walked along the sand paths in the maze of houses and then sat on the beach with beers to watch the sun set. After a swim, we took a boat back to Dakar to splurge on sushi for Thanksgiving dinner and caramel cheesecake for dessert. I seriously could have cried it was so beautiful. We then went back to our air bnb with hot showers and AC, and took turns face timing with our families at home.

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Senegal and Togo are both formerly colonized by the French, but Senegal was an interesting combination of French West Africa and Moroccan culture. It was much drier and cooler than it currently is in Togo, which was a welcome change. The food was exceptional, each day at the conference we would gather on the floor around a large plate with rice or couscous and chicken, beef, or fresh fish in different sauces. Another gem of Senegal was the clementines that are imported from Morocco, so much better than the bitter green oranges in Togo. Horse drawn carts were commonly seen as a form of transportation as well as a method of trash collection or shipping larger objects.

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Because it is that time of year and I am 18 months into Peace Corps service in Togo I am going to be cheesy and reflect on all the things I am so thankful for, because if I have learned nothing else from my time here it is that there is so much to be grateful for.

1) My supportive and generous family who I miss dearly every day.

2) Access to food and water, something that I often struggle to find and so much effort goes into obtaining everyday.

3) My work as a Peace Corps Volunteer- I love my job with the highest highs and lowest lows. At no point in 18 months have I felt that I shouldn’t have made this choice.

4) My Peace Corps Volunteer Family without whom I would have lost my mind.

5) My Togolese host family who have kept me alive, caught all the mice, killed snakes, taught me, laughed and cried with me.

6) My friends in Seattle that send me care packages and love when I need it most.

7) My health and access to healthcare- working here I have seen some horrific illnesses, tragic deaths, and too many people without the means, education, or ability to receive healthcare.

8) My work partners in Goudeve- Eli, the Community Health workers, and my women’s group that give me hope for development.

9) My education- 62 million girls don’t have access to an education, over a million of which are in Togo.

 10) Being accepted into grad schools and my next adventure getting a Masters in Global Health and Public Policy at University of Edinburgh!

11) The professors at UW who have mentored and guided me through Peace Corps and applying for grad school.

12) My ability to travel, and experience new cultures and places.

13) All the amazing food and wine.

14) Good books, I never want to stop learning new things.

15) Gold bond, not even kidding. This is the secret to my success.

The list could go on forever. Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

I put all the photos on Flickr if you want to see more.

https://flic.kr/s/aHskHgdfXG

STOMP out Malaria in Africa Conference in Senegal

Over two weeks I was at a malaria conference in Senegal with Peace Corps Volunteers from 16 countries across Africa. This was an opportunity for PCVs to learn from each other and meet with major organizations that are working on malaria eradication throughout Africa.

This is a man from a village near the training site that has dedicated himself after the death of his daughter from malaria to fighting malaria. In a village that used to have a 40% prevalence over 10 years he has reduced to under 1%.

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The CDC talking bout systems strengthening methods to eradicate malaria.

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As Togo was removed from the UN from 1992-2002, many major organizations left during this time (except Peace Corps) and many of them never came back. The organizations that currently work in Togo on malaria prevention and treatment are The Red Cross, The Global Fund, Plan Togo, and PNLP (Togo’s Ministry of Health Malaria Initiative). These organizations fund community health workers (although they have not been paid all of 2016), distribute bed nets, conduct data collection and surveys, and fund malaria tests and treatment.

In Togo, 43% of hospitalizations are due to malaria with a mortality rate of 29%. This is high. Almost half of hospitalizations in Togo are from malaria and a third of them die. Bed nets are the most common form of prevention and only 65% of households own a bednet, of those only 34% actually use them. A lot of this comes down to lack of funding and resources available in Togo. It is a relatively small country and therefore would be much easier to eradicate malaria in, but Togo received $10 million in 2014 (majority of which is from the Global Fund and a third of the contributions to the Global Fund came from Togo itself) compared to $45 million in Benin, $80 million in Ghana, and $20 million in Burkina.

*notice the scale is different on each graph and looks deceiving.

Togo:

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Benin:

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Burkina Faso:

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Ghana:

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I am going to back track for a moment and discuss a little more about malaria, since many are not familiar with it. Malaria is a parasite that is only transmitted by mosquitos. Symptoms include head ache, fever, anemia, and stomach ache, but there are very serious cases of malaria called cerebral malaria that results in coma, stroke, and death. Populations that are most vulnerable include children and pregnant women. Often someone will have malaria many times in their lifetime and build an immunity to the disease, but it is the leading killer of children under five in Togo. Malaria is not spread through all types of mosquitos, which is why not everywhere that has mosquitos has malaria. There are many species of mosquito, but only the anopheles female can transmit malaria. The parasite likes warm environments, which is why it is usually found in most countries near the equator. However, malaria was previously common in the US, but was eradicated due to a number of reasons: DDT was used in the US and killed many mosquitos that carry malaria (and killed birds and caused cancer), and the type of mosquitos that bred in America had to breed in a large pool of clean water, whereas malaria carrying mosquitos throughout Sub Saharan Africa can breed in a pool of water in a plastic bottle cap or the indent of a tree. Malaria is a disease spread through the saliva of a mosquito when it bites a human. If an uninfected mosquito bites a person that has malaria then about 2 weeks later when that mosquito bites another person it will transmit malaria to the next person it bites.

What do PCVs do? We work in bed net distribution, systems strengthening, retraining and facilitating community health workers for faster and more effective treatment of malaria and we educate populations on symptoms, treatments, and prevention methods. Projects that I am participating in for malaria eradication in Togo are house visits, this is an opportunity to discuss directly with a family and verify bed net use. I have re-trained the community health workers in my district to use treatment as a prevention method because the fewer people carrying malaria the fewer mosquitos biting people with malaria and transmitting it to others. I am working towards training women in my CARE group to use rapid pregnancy tests to identify pregnant women earlier into the pregnancy to get women taking malaria prevention sooner into the pregnancy (this is still in the process of being funded by the Togolese government, I am hopeful I will see it implemented during my service.

Peace Corps Togo Volunteers at the STOMP conference

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The training was an opportunity to hear about work being done by different organizations in Senegal and internationally such as CDC, PMI, and a local lab working on malaria vaccines and improved rapid tests. It was a great opportunity to rejuvenate and re-motivate myself for the last few months at site. It was a great opportunity to meet volunteers from all over Africa and gain prospective on projects and work conditions in other countries. I was also fortunate because I got to see one of my best friends from college who is a PCV in Mozambique who also came to the conference.

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Savanes

There is no wifi to be found in Togo right now. I waited to write this blog post for while I’m in Lome at the PCV work station, but there isn’t any wifi here so I am writing this on my phone so I have to put all the photos in randomly, sorry about that!image

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Sto rage on the caves

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The climb down

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On top of the mountain where we climb down to the caves

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The latrine committee

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Creating the community map

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Mapping water sources, latrines, public spaces and schools to show where people poop.

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Poop scavenger hunt

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This woman was horrified when we showed everyone how close people are cooking and eating next to poop.

At the last in service training several PCVs came to me about wanting to start community led sanitation in their villages or they had tried to, but the rains had washed away their latrines. I created a guide to CLTS for the volunteers and developed a plan with another PCV, Paige, to do a tour de poop shaming au Nord.

We traveled up to Savanes, the northern most region of Togo on the Burkia Faso border. As you would expect it is much hotter and drier up there as it is much closer the the Sahara desert. Worst heat rash of my life, also hook worm is a good time.

I took a 12 hour bus ride up from Lome, one of the scariest transportation experiences of my life as the bus was over taking cars and huge lorrys, at one point we took over a motorcycle as another car took over a motorcycle coming in the other direction and to avoid a head on collision the car flipped off the road, down into an embankment. The driver got out of the car and seemed to be fine, but seriously no wonder transportation accidents are one of the leading causes of death in Togo.

Once I made it up to Barkossi, a large village in Southern savanes we got organized for the 4 days of trainings in 4 villages. The trainings went very well in each village, there was great discussion and involvement in creating the maps. We made the ‘find the poop’ into a games like an Easter egg hunt where the first person to find where someone has open defecated gets a prize. (What is my life?) It was a great week an each village has been excited to start building latrines since we left with the help of the PCVs from their village.

The ethnic group, Moba, built these amazing caves that we hiked up to. There is currently a PCV living on top of the mountain who gave us a tour and was an excellent host while we were there. He told us that there was a civil war between the Moba and theTchkossi. The German colonizers used this to their adantage and gave guns to the Tchkossi to round up the Moba to bring down to the coast and sell in the slave trade. To hide the Moba built these caves in the side of the mountain were they created these mud pots to hold millet and other food stores as well as poisoned arrows. There’s even a small spring that supplies water year round and a plant that grows around the spring that is a natural water purifier. To get the the caves we climbed down this rebar ladder, but the Moba used to climb down vines to get into the caves. It was an incredible experience to have seen the slave castles in Ghana all the way to the caves in Northern Togo. Alongside having grown up in North Carolina where slaves worked cotton and tobacco plantations. Such a horrible history, that has shaped the racial discrimination that continues in America today.

Tomorrow I am going to Senegal for a malaria conference! So more to come soon!

October is pumpkin spice season

Sorry uploading pictures was difficult today so there’s no real order to them.

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I have been pretty bad about updating lately. Partly because I’ve been so busy with national projects and grad school apps, but also because I feel like I’ve been here so long that it’s harder to see Togo with fresh eyes. Things that once surprised me are now the norm.

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I have been doing most of my work in malaria and maternal and child health lately. The women’s group I am training to be health educators, the “mama lumiers” met this month where we discussed family planning. I had the midwife come with all the different types of contraceptives and discussed each and the myths associated with them. For example, it is common for families to believe using birth control methods cause infertility or will lead to a woman becoming promiscuous. So we had an open forum where women could ask questions. It went incredibly well and I am really excited to hear feedback next month. Another volunteer and I are working with the ministry of health to train our women’s groups to get women to come to the clinic at their first signs of pregnancy to immediately start TPU, a malaria preventative used during pregnancy. We are hoping the MOH will provide pregnancy tests to make this a little easier, but we will see.

 

I can’t believe it is already October, this year has flown by. I have been chosen to go to Senegal in August for a malaria conference and I’m super excited!

I am continuing to work with community health workers to do house visits to pregnant women to do birth plans and educate on early treatment and signs of malaria.

 

The waterfall, Kpime is the biggest tourist attraction in Togo, but it is often closed to run as a hydro plant, not the best laid plan. However, I finally went last week for the first time and it’s pretty spectacular.

 

Go ask a second year volunteer

It has been a while since I have posted a blog, but so much has happened that I didn’t know where to start which perpetuated the cycle of not wanting to write a blog post.

So these are the highlights, my best friend, Paige was visited by her boyfriend for a month in Togo. Her village held a ceremony to welcome him and I got to go up to celebrate. It was an all day fête with dancing, going to prayer at the mosque, and having a big feast complete with the killing of a sheep, named mange tous (eat it all).

walking home from the mosque with the best.

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I then went down to Cori’s village to help her set up community led sanitation since it has gone so well in my village. Update: ATPC has come to a bit of a stand still in my village due to rainy season and most people spend all their time at work in the fields or if they dig holes they fill up with water.

Rainy season is a hard time to get work done. Now that most families are done planting they spend the afternoon at home during the rain. Everything comes to a stand still during the rain and I am loving the cooler weather. It has been a particularly difficult season because we got so much rain that the only road in village actually washed away at one point.

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I went on vacation in August to England and Scotland with my family. We had a big family reunion with all my extended family I hadn’t seen in years and it was awesome.

Now, I am back at site and the new volunteers just swore in, which makes us second year volunteers! It also starts the application process for grad school. I just cannot explain how much fun that has been. I took a motorcycle for an hour the other day to go use a scanner, which turned out to be broken when I got there. I was also told to fax a form to get my official transcripts mailed, I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry because there isn’t even a fax machine at the PC office. I am however really excited to planning the next phase after PC where I can use all the skills I’ve learned in the field.

The next few weeks will be getting things rolling for the end of rainy season. I have learned about a mapping project that I am starting in my district to better understand who is seeking treatment for malaria and to real bed net distribution. The map is created by volunteers with better internet connection than I and from there I can get started.

http://tasks.hotosm.org/project/2044

 

Ghana is glorious

Accra is America. It completely blows my mind that the next door neighbor of Togo is like a completely different planet. There are of course parts of Ghana that are very similar to Togo and have few resources, but immediately after crossing the border your on a paved road with street lights and power lines that aren’t tangled up and hung on sticks. There are many factors that contribute to the drastic difference in development: language- Ghana is an English speaking country, organizations working in Ghana are plenty as opposed to Togo, and colonial history- Ghana wasn’t colonized by the French.Some friends and I went to Accra last week to take the GRE and this is what I would say to any PCV thinking of taking the GRE during PC Togo- don’t. Take it in America. While most volunteers have a lot more free time here than America there are many, many distractions. Besides the heat and mosquitos, there is never a moment of silence for two full years. The weekend before I left there was a funeral in village where club music was blasting for a full 48 hours. When I say blasting I mean my bed was vibrating from the base and nothing changed even with ear plugs in and trying to sleep with my head between two pillows. After 2 days without sleep I had to wake up at 3 am to get a car to Lome and by the time I reached Accra I was near a psychotic break. Fortunately, after a hot shower, an amazing meal, a beautiful cocktail, and a good nights sleep in an air conditioned room I was a whole new person. We had a day in Accra before the exam where we ate great food and even went to a mall. The last time I was in Accra while doing study abroad I never thought I’d go to that mall, but it was America and after a year in Togo it was so inviting. I ate pizza and drank a latte while watching people dressed in clean clothes and fashionable shoes walked past. I felt so out of place. Even in the nicest parts of Togo there is nothing even resembling anything like it. I walked into stores like H&M to look at clothes I can’t afford on my PC salary and remember that I used to where clothes like these before service. I would catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think ‘wow that person is filthy’. Everything I own has a layer of dirt that just doesn’t come out from hand washing, I’ve lost weight and my clothes sag, and my hair has thinned from lack of nutrients and taking malaria prophylaxis. I was somewhere that is far more like where I come from than my life in Togo, but I felt so ridiculously out of place.
Only commit to taking the GRE here if you’re willing to study like this:


While sitting down for dinner at Burger and Relish a restaurant that reminded me a lot of The Commons, where I used to work in Seattle. We talked about how much more head space we have in Accra and how we don’t notice it so much in village, because it has become normal for us to always think about fetching water or if we have any food to eat. So much of our time is spent worrying about what we have to do that day to survive, and we don’t realize it until we don’t have to do it anymore. I spent a few hours studying that evening in a silent, air conditioned room, and got so much more accomplished than when I spent a whole day studying in village. The next day I took the GRE and I did well, but I still believe a lot of the head ache could have been prevented if I had just taken it before I left.

After the exam we went to Cape Coast for a quick vacation. It was so interesting to be back in Ghana after a year in Togo. I flew into Accra with a friend before we started our study abroad program in Togo in 2014. We spent some time traveling around and I remember feeling pretty over whelmed by the transportation and street vendors, but now I found them refreshingly easy compared to Togo. 

Cape Coast is beautiful with a strong colonial influence. In many ways it reminded me of Antigua, Guatemala. We visited Cape Coast Castle, the place where enslaved West Africans were brought and crammed into the dungeons for 3 months to a year before being shipped to the Carribean and Central America to work as slaves on plantations. As I grew up in North Carolina on the other side of the slave trade, it is so interesting to come back to where it all started. Such a horrific exploitation of people that has shaped the development in all of West Africa and has directly influenced health access in my small village in Togo. 




On the way back to village Paige and her boyfriend, Brandyn, who is visiting from America came with me to Kpalime to play tourist.

Mangoes and Malaria 

  It’s been fun malaria month. The malaria campaign that I conducted is just the start of the malaria projects I hope to do over the next year, but it has given me a better idea of the needs of each village in my district that the clinic serves and the challenges to health access in the most remote communities. 

For World Malaria Day on April 25th, our country director and the Chief of Missions for Peace Corps Africa came to visit. All the volunteers from our work group got together at the middle school in Adeta to play games for malaria education to over 500 students. 

 
Last week I visited Votré a village 10 km from mine, but a different ethnicity called Kaybe. Each house was 3km apart through corn fields and I was completely exhausted at the end of the day. I only realized how much Ewe I have learned when I was in a village where no one spoke French or Ewe, except for the wonderful health worker who was with me.   

This month I have conducted house visits in 17 villages to over 500 households! Yesterday’s village was the last village, Goudeve Todji, the furthest village from the clinic in Goudeve, which is only accessible by foot. I left at 6am with my friend from village who agreed to show me the way. We walked through dense brush and I was terrified of snakes, followed by climbing rocks up a windy narrow path. I feel like I am a pretty skilled hiker after years in the Cascades, but I can’t believe Francois hiked this in flip flops. The best part was eating mangoes and looking at this incredible view. I told Francois that I love mangoes so he proceeded to climb the tree and fill up a backpack.

    

  

 

When we arrived in the village we did 30 house visits followed by visiting the school (shown below) to talk with students about malaria. After the training 4 students came up the the community health worker and said they had the symptoms I talked about. We tested them and treated them there in the classroom. I was the first volunteer to ever come to their village and the students told me they have never been told malaria comes from mosquitos. I’m hoping to go back in a few months and start a project there because everyone was so excited and motivated.

   
  

Malaria Month!

#stompoutmalaria

  
With April comes the rain. Torrential downpours that bring down trees, fences, and have even torn off roofs. After a long 5 months of dry season, the rain is much needed, but with it comes disease. It has been challenging to keep many of my projects going as everyone goes to work in the fields from sun up to sun down now that rainy season has started to ensure enough food to last through the next dry season. Something I didn’t understand before is that really everyone has a field somewhere where they grow their crops, whether they are a teacher, midwife, shop keeper, or tailor. Making it pretty difficult for me to even buy essentials from the store, let alone motivate households to build latrines when they’re spending all day in the fields. The bad news is that there isn’t a latrine in the fields and with the heavy rains flushing everything into the water supply diahreal diseases like typhoid fever and even cholera are rampant. Soooo, don’t forget to wash your hands buddy.

 Conducting house visits with rural health workers in Dodi 
With the rain there are clouds of flies and mosquitos everywhere. With the mosquitos comes malaria. April is malaria month and Peace Corps Togo Malaria Action Committee is holding a competition for the work group that does the most malaria prevention and education work. I am doing a campaign of rural villages to visit households with community health workers to see if every family has a mosquito net and it is properly hung up and then educating the family on malaria prevention as well as signs and symptoms of malaria. I better understand some of the misconceptions of malaria now as many people think malaria is caused by long hot days working in the field or eating too many mangoes (the best part of rainy season from what I can tell is mangoes!). I’m also conducting malaria education forums at the schools, market, and public spaces in rural villages. 

Yesterday, I went to a small village of about 300 people called Dodi. It’s about a 30 minute motorcycle ride up a mountain road that also substitutes as a river during the rain. After breaking down twice, and crossing the river on a bridge consisting of a few boards, we arrived to the little village where I was welcomed by the community health worker and village chief. They both laughed with delight when I greeted them in Ewe and thanked them for inviting me to talk with the community about malaria prevention. They led me to the small market that sold mostly Tchook, the local beer, where many people were gathered to hear my presentation. They informed me that the “gong gonger” (a man that beats an old car rim with a stick and shouts that there is a yovo coming to talk at the market today) has been working the past three days to get everyone to come, which is honestly a lot more motivation then I can usually get out of anyone in Goudeve. I was given probably the only wooden chair in village to wait while the chief delivers his introduction. An event like this is a social outing for the village so all the women come in their finest pagne, usually around half way through the men lift their shirts up to show their bellies to cool off from the relentless heat and children inch closer to touch my hair and skin to see if it is different than theirs. Once the chief has finished I get up to do my introduction in Ewe, which is always followed by “fine, fine!” from the eldest women. I have posters I have made to illustrate malaria transmission, prevention, signs and symptoms, and treatment. At the end of the presentation and everything has been translated from French to Ewe. I get the usual questions, “Tata, I am sick. Give me medicine?” “My sister, bring me to America?” “Sister Aimee, when will you come eat fufu with me?” I thank everyone for coming and tell them I will be coming for house visits to see their mosquito nets. After eating fufu and drinking Tchook, the local beer. We set off to first visit all the pregnant women in village as they have the highest mortality rates. 

Malaria is the premier cause of death in Togo.

Malaria is the number one reason for absences from work and school.

Malaria contributes to significant economic losses. 

About 3.2 billion people, about half the worlds population, are at risk of malaria.

89% percent of cases of malaria occur in Sub Saharan Africa and 91% of mortalities  from malaria.

#stompoutmalaria

This is Milo, he was the puppy born on my bed and was given to me as a gift by the owners of Akuvi (the mom). My name, Aimée, is the French word for love so I named Milo after the Ewe word for love, Melolo.  
 I found this little guy stealing fruit from the market one day. 
Had a quick trip to Lome last weekend to get a visa for Ghana so that I can take the GRE in Accra in June (scary soon!!), went to some meetings, and spent a day with friends at the beach/eating amazing food. It was much needed since I’ve been working nonstop since I was in the US.

  
Some guys walking on stilts on the beach wearing crocodile skulls on their heads.  

Togolese food

When I first came to Togo in 2014 I knew that I would be serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer the following year and I was excited to try the food I would be eating in the time I live here. I have never been a picky eater, but the first thing I ordered in Togo was fufu with goat sauce. Fufu is a staple in the Togolese diet, but it was easily the worst thing I had ever eaten. In the past year I have grown to really enjoy many foods that I found repulsive after I first ate them and even find myself craving fufu. So in a hope to share what Togolese cuisine looks like I have created this blog. There are some foods I refuse to ever eat like dog, but for the most part, I’ll try anything once. These are the foods that are available in my village or my market village, but like other countries the food varies in each village.

This is my favorite street food: egg sandwich with Nescafé mixed with condensed milk.   
This is the fufu process, one starts with a yam which is a long white tuber completely void of nutritional value. It is boiled in a big pot over a fire and then pounded into a dough like consistency. Fufu is always eaten with the right hand and dipped into a sauce. This one is served with a fish sauce.

  
  
Street meat, something I once found questionable, but it’s actually delicious.  

Ayimolou, Togolese rice and beans with spicy sauce and palm oil. Then can be topped with spaghetti, which is a condiment in Togo. This is my favorite rice and bean lady, Dedo who is also in my women’s group. 
So much bread, there’s salt or sugar bread. The only food in Togo that has become more repulsive to me the longer I’ve been here.  
 

Pate, the other staple along with fufu. Made with corn mush and is the consistency of mashed potatoes and eaten with your right hand and dipped into a sauce.  
Piment, spicy peppers ground up and put on everything.  
Grilled or fried plantains   

Soja, fried tofu put into a plastic bag with spicy piment sauce  

There’s also bouille, which is watery corn mush with sugar added and is what everyone here eats for breakfast. I think it’s the consistency of baby vomit, but it just tastes like sugar.

Gâteaux, which translates to mean cake, but don’t be fooled it’s salty dough filled with spaghetti and piment sauce.

Beignets, fried dough made with bean flour (my favorite) or sugary corn flour.

Market sandwich:anchovies, onions, hot peppers, avocado, and spaghetti.

Street salad: lettuce, mayonnaise, and spaghetti.