Monday, November 29, 2010


We're glad that you had the opportunity to enjoy the American celebration of Thanksgiving. We've learned that most every culture has a harvest festival of some kind. We are guessing that beans and yams are crops that grow well in the tropical climate of Togo. We are preparing for the season of winter which begins in mid December. Soon we will be wearing hats, gloves, and boots. There are many holidays that take place during the winter season, the biggest being Christmas. There's lots of excitement as we get ready to celebrate holiday traditions. Some of our classmates celebrate Ramadan and some celebrate Christmas. We will be learning about holiday customs in other countries as well. What is the biggest holiday in Togo? We read a folktale from Western Africa. The main character was Anansi the spider, a very popular character in African folklore. Are there storytellers in Togo? Do they tell stories of Anansi too? We researched endangered species. We learned about elephants being killed for their ivory tusks. Laws that protect these animals against poachers are helping, but they are still at risk. Are there other endangered species in Togo? Have you seen an elephant? The feast of Knocking Down the Wall sounded like it would make a great movie! What are some of the songs and games you teach at the kids club? We love to sing and play games, too! We also hate mosquitoes but we have learned that microbats eat mosquitoes. So we're thankful for bats! And we are thankful that we get to learn many things about Africa from you!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving in Togo

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! Even though the Togolese do not celebrate Thanksgiving, I was still able to eat lots of good food and spend time with the other Peace Corps volunteers who have become my family over here. We went up to a small town called Ajengre where we ate turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and of course lots of pie! Some of my friends even had Thanksgiving decorations sent from the United States so it felt a little bit like America (except that it was 95 degrees!). I bet it’s really cold there now. I used to love bundling up and playing football the day after Thanksgiving to exercise off all of the food that I ate.

At first, my Togolese friends and people in my village did not understand Thanksgiving, but once I explained the origins of how it is to celebrate the Pilgrims first harvest with the Native Americans, they totally understood, because there are big harvest festivals all the time here. We just had the “Feast of the New Yam” and we are in the middle of the Bean Harvest Festival right now.

The weather here has just gotten really hot, and it hasn’t rained in a long time. During the rainy season, I did a lot of work to prevent and treat malaria and other diseases caused by insects, because all the bugs love the humid and wet climate. Now that it is the dry season and there isn’t a lot of food, I will change my focus to nutrition by teaching people about healthy foods and making sure that they get enough vitamins.

That’s it for now. Next week I am playing in a soccer game to promote AIDS awareness. Everyone wins when we have a fun and educational game like this, but I also hope that we win the game too!

A la prochaine (Until next time)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ndi from Atakpame

Hi everyone!

I hope you all got lots of good candy from trick or treating! We had a small Halloween party in the regional capital of Atakpame to welcome in a new group of volunteers and we even had American candy. My costume was a police officer, but sadly, people in Togo don’t celebrate Halloween, so they all thought that we were a bit crazy. In terms of celebrations here, I recently went to a big festival in a city called Notse (see if you can find it on a map!). The festival is called Agbogboza and it means “The feast of knocking down the wall”. The feast has been going on ever since 1721 when the people of Notse knocked down the wall surrounding the city and escaped from their evil king. The festival had chiefs and villagers from all over Togo, Ghana, and Benin, so it was a really cool experience. There was traditional African dancing and music, and of course a lot of good food.

I hope you are all staying warm as winter gets closer. Here, it is about to get a lot hotter. The rainy season is ending, and sometimes, the rain and clouds are the only things that can cool down the sun. It will get progressively hotter until February when everyone says it is almost unbearable because it’s so hot and humid, but eventually the rains will return and it will cool back down. Either way, I won’t be needing jackets and sweatshirts like you guys for a long time – sometimes, I go into an air-conditioned office or car that has the temperature at 80 degrees and I think that its cold!

Well that’s all the time that I have right now. I’m about to leave to go to a kids club to play games, sing songs, and teach people how to avoid mosquito bites!

Hope to hear from you all soon!

Your friend,