Tuesday, January 11, 2011

HAPPY New Years!

Happy 2011!

I am sure you have all partied and welcomed in the new year in fashion.  The new year here in Togo has started well.  We are in the midst of harmattan, the windy, chilly season when winds from the Sahel blow all over Togo.  This makes for hazy (on some days very hazy conditions) because of all the dust, lots of wind and cold mornings and nights.  I actually get to bundle up at night it is so cold.  It is very dry, so that took some getting used to after the rainy season.

I am starting my SPA (Small Project Assistance) project in February, and so we've been planning the steps of the project.  We will build a well and a school garden at the middle school.  This is a village wide project, and so requires a lot of collaboration with village development officials, villages chiefs, professors at the middle school, etc.  We're finding masons and workers to help build the well, women to prepare food, students to collect sand, and the list goes on.  We are organized, and so everyone just needs to do their part and the project can succeed.  The students in Environmental club are really excited about the school garden, and if everything goes to plan we should be planting in it in April! 

I celebrated Christmas and New Years in village this year.  Christmas eve was nice, I had dinner with some volunteers who live close to me at another volunteers house, and early Christmas morning I went back to my village for church.  We made a big meal (rice, pork, spaghetti and pounded yams (fufu))  It was fun cooking with my host family and reminded me of preparing Christmas dinner at home.  No christmas trees, or snow, or freezing cold...so different from Wisconsin for sure, but similar in other ways too.  New Years was fun too.  Everyone celebrates New Years.  People cook ridiculous amounts of food (fufu, rice,pasta, salad) and usually splurge for some meat, pork, guinea fowl, and duck.  People love sharing food during this time too, and so everywhere you go you are offered a plate of food and of course local beer, tchouk.  Weeks before and after the celebration there are dances in each neighborhood called 'camo.'  There is drumming and sometimes a flute, but everyone gets together, wears crazy outfits and dances and says ''Bonne annee, bonne fete, avec la sante on peut tout faire.'' (Happy new year, good party, one can do anything if they have health!)  I remember last year being at the same dances, having just arrived in my village, and how much fun it was then, and still is now.

So, check out my picasa website, I just uploaded photos!  I added two here.  I am in one with a group of women I work, and we are going to build a well there soon.  The other is from our enriched porridge formation we made at the clinic.  Everyone loves porridge with soy, beans and peanuts for extra nutrition!