Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Spectacle Nights in Togo

I am happy to announce through all the stress and the sweat and toil of planning this event has brought me nothing but joy in the aftermath. I am sure that I am the most popular Yovo this side of Togo. There is so much to say when explaining how the red carpet rolled out that for now I am going to let you make your own assumptions and just enjoy it as if you were there through these photos.
There were moments of panic and some things that didn’t go well or as planned but I am happy with all the help of the team behind me in working together to realize these events. I have been asked by many people in village when is the next spectacle, sadly to say I am hoping that it will be something my replacement can continue to facilitate along with the others. I have faith in the Association behind the planning of the events and believe that they are now equipped with the knowledge of how to accomplish another event of this magnitude. It won’t be long before the Spectacle makes a nationwide debut calling in participants from all towns to perform together in the Togolese Idol meets Project Runway meets Star Search du Togo.
I would like to extend a special thanks to all of you who contributed to the Friends of Togo Funding Grant that helped me realize these events. I have already noticed an increased presence of self-confidence, accomplishment and spirit throughout my village. It was a time to be able to recognize and award the efforts of many creative and talented people in a small town in Togo.
Francois the haut couture mens and womens designer sporting a wonderful mix of Miami Vice meets Men in Black

Claudine shines as she graces the podium

I grabbed my favorite tailor in village to walk the runway with me

Wheres Yovo... here I am in line with all the models

Yankee presents his finest calabash art

A wonderful work showing the union of the US and Togo

Even the local carpenters participated in promoting thier work with a performance of -the joy of finding money under the couch cushions-

The second night of the spectacle opened with performances from the Dagbeneva Group in Kpalime...they brought in the crowds with thier proffesionalism and left the youth with something to aspire towards-even better in traditional dance

Hip Hop has its influences here but these boys had created their own proper tune...complete with bustin dance moves

Aglame created and performed his latest hit -simplement-

It was wonderful to see some raw talent from the petites in village and after they broke into a dance many of us joined them on stage

All the participants of the two evenings recieved thier diplomas of participation -and were excited to see the USA Peace Corps logo on it; Barack has made the US logo more popular here-

The crowd wailed and cheered and left wanting more but when things start late -as is the case en Afrique- you get tired quick and hope for a timely exit

As the funds arrive for phase two of this grand project the community waits with excitment for the use of thier new community exhibition hall

pack your bags for the land of yams and palm wine

(keep in mind you will experience weight inflexions due to stress and diet changes, pack clothes that allow for such)
• A large supply of underwear and bras.12-16pairs. (Cotton is best but nylon dries quicker and is more comfortable when sweating your bum off.)
• Cotton dresses and/or skirts, knee length or longer.
• Terry knit gauchos (they are comfy and can be dressy. I have worn mine almost daily)
• Loose fitting cotton tops and t-shirts (nothing too revealing or cropped and they say business casual..stress the casual since business clothes become the traditional pagne outfits you make in country)
• Tank tops (sometimes cami tops are good for lounging at home) (Remember that cultural norms are much more conservative than those in the U.S. You may only wear tank tops while hanging out in your house but I wear them in my town so just nothing too revealing)
• A few nice outfits for those two or three special occasions in your village or when visiting regional capitals (just bring a dress or skirts or pants that fit you well and can use as a pattern to be can make and have fun fitting in with dress clothes from the traditional cloth here)
• One or two pairs of jeans (I gained weight and never wore they were too stuffy and hot - A couple pairs of cotton capris or linen are better when you need a break from skirts...think biker friendly...)
• Cotton socks for jogging or sports (just a few needed, quick dry and a pair of tall ones)
• Shorts (sports shorts should be a bit longer than normal, and cotton pj shorts and pants for sleeping and lounging around inside are great some volunteers like leggings)
• Cotton bandannas (perfect for riding in the bush taxi with window down, and as a snot rag during harmattan, and good for wiping the sweat off your face and trying to fan yourself in the hot season..don’t leave home without it..many are available in the market)
• Hair bands and barettes (my hair has been up in a ponytail my entire service)
• One pair of good supportive sandals. (I brought Chacos and never wore them preferring the comfortable cheap and lightweight market flip flops)
• Sneakers/running shoes (I brought trail runners that were not as comfortable and asked for my road shoes to be sent..there is pavement in some parts)
• Windbreaker and compact umbrella (make em small lightweight and packable, big golf umbrellas can be bought au marche)
• Light weight fleece sweatshirt or longsleeve shirt for occasional cool evening. (rarely worn and if you don’t have space you can find one in the dead yovo clothes piles- I found a North Face fleece here)
• Day pack for shopping; larger backpack for traveling. (rei has a great packable back pack that folds into itself, and there is never a shortage of stylish purses and bags here 4 day use)
• Bathing suit (for that beach time in Lome or trips to the falls)
• Sun Hat (comfortable sun hat if you have a favorite, again easy to find here in the used clothes piles)
• Sunglasses with UV protection (you can buy many here that are pretty stylish but probably offer no protection, I worried that nice ones would get ruined scratched lost or stolen so I didn’t invest)
• Catalogs or pictures of clothing you may want copied (I brought a few catalogs and had others sent in care packages)
General use items
• Luggage that is tough and flexible such as duffel bags and internal frame backpacks plus luggage locks. (Best if you think of taking trips around Africa, at the end you can buy a wheeled luggage case for cheap-tons of chinese imports here)
• Money belt or pouch that can be concealed under clothing or worn on the waist to carry money and other valuables. (barely used but always good for travels)
• A reliable alarm clock, or a watch with an alarm. (never used one when you have will wake up earlier than you think- plus most cell phones and watches have em)
• Swiss Army knife or equivalent (I brought a small swiss army knife with cork screw wine opener and then a Leatherman with screwdriver attachments, pliers and saw blades for home repairs..both good ideas)
• Small sewing kit and safety pins. (good but since its a strong trade here, you can come across supplies or a tailor to mend your worn affaires)
• Headlamp (you can buy flashlights in Togo)
• U.S. stamps. You can often have letters mailed in the United States by people traveling there from Lomé.
• A small pillow (so necessary if you are a light sleeper, pillows here are filled with hard knotted cotton, just grab a small polyfiber insert (at local Target made to fill couch pillowcases))
• Plastic water bottle for traveling. (Nalgenes are good..)
• Pillowcase and one flat bed sheet. (Bring at least one set from home as you will need them right away, I brought a silk sleeping liner to use during stage then bought bed linens au marche, you can find pagne here to use as well)
• Hammock (good idea but...I rarely used since it brought about too much attention (kids thinking it was a great toy) and not enough calming benefits. You could always have one constructed here out of local pagne)

Healthcare and Toiletry
• U.S. toiletry items and favorites (I stressed about this and still haven’t used the majority of what I brought..but here are some ideas on the most useful...)
• Face Wash and exfoliant, Burts Bees Shower Soap, Spray in hair detangle, some tubes of conditioning treatment, sensitive skin face sunscreen
• Contacts and contact solution (if you want to overstep their disclaimer..bring enough to last the entire time and be careful to wash well..I have thrown out many pairs from bothered eyes due to scratched corneas)
• Makeup (I really only used mascara and some spf concealer for the ocassional breakout ..all others come unused but that depends on give up being pretty when you sweat it off plus you can find some things here)
• Deodorant (If one needs to use it a lot bring what makes you feel fresh and have more sent later)
• If you take prescription medicine, bring a three-month supply.
• Eyeglasses (two pairs).

Households and Exercise
• Water resistant sports watches with chrono etc.
• Yoga mat (perfect for sleepovers and at home workouts, I also asked for a stability ball to be sent along with Pilates DVD’s)
• Compact, quick drying pack towels. (I loved having mine for travel purposes...You can buy regular towels in the market or use a pagne)
• Good scissors and nail clippers
• Colored markers, crayons, and construction paper. For making visual aids and playing with kids. These items are available in Togo, but expensive.
• Journal. (Moleskins are paperback style journals are available in Togo)
• Writing paper (bring any small amount of preference...There is plenty available in Togo just maybe not the lined kind you are used to).
• Pens. (Bring your favs...the ones here are cheap)
• Duct tape/packing tape. (highly can find scotch here)
• Pictures of home. Your Togolese friends will be very interested in seeing what your “former life” was like.
• Maps of the United States and the world.
• Mini office supplies (stapler, hole punch, white out, post it notes, nice pens and sharpies)
• Calendar/ day planner pocket size is best (you’ll need it to countdown the days...and leave notes on daily adventures)
• Seeds for personal garden (the best ones are herbs like cilantro and basil, I also brought flowers and carrots, bell peppers and broccoli..the broccoli grew but I waited too long to harvest in hopes it would get bigger and it bloomed flowers instead... you can find local seeds here in the agro regions)

Entertainment & Electronics
• Camera (the best investment I had was a Canon Powershot SD800 IS Digital Elph...any in the series are great and takes wonderful quality images for its size) Bring a good case for protection.
• Photographic film is available here (but not widely used, best to take digital images and have family and friends print them out stateside to mail by burning cds and uploading them to flickr etc..)
• Back up batteries for digital camera and extra memory cards. (needed when going on long trips and you’re a shutterbug like me..I cringe at having to miss a great shot)
• Batteries. Rechargeable ones are best but be sure that your charger will run on 220 volt current, or is multi-voltage. (I brought a solar charger I barely used since I have electricity but I do recommend bringing a converter and about 8-12 AA batteries and 6 AAA, batteries here don’t last long at all and corrode easier)
• Laptop (with an external hard drive 200GB+ , USB keys and good anti-virus software)
• Digital “thumb drive”, at least 2GB. (Very useful for transporting digital files between computers, just beware of aquiring viruses)
• Surge protector/voltage converter as well as plug adaptors for Africa.
• Shortwave radio or satellite receiver. Stations such as BBC, Voice of America, and Radio France International can be received with a moderate quality short wave radio. (you’ll thank yourself for not forgetting this one esp. Since they took away our’s nothing like hearing American News by a Togolese more informed on world affairs that you)
• i-POD or MP3 player with portable speakers (I brought two ipod nanos (since one was old and might die out) and it was my saving grace at me)
• Hobby items such as sketch book, sewing/ crochet needles, paints Games, such as Scrabble, chess, UNO and Frisbee. (I brought UNO and was asked to play it by my host brothers more than I wished...don’t bring a game that isn’t quick to finish...Ordinary playing cards abound.)
• Frisbee, soccer ball, etc.
• Musical instruments—guitar, etc. ( I left these at home thinking that I should give drumming a try and test out their instruments)
• One or two books. There are many books in English in the Peace Corps Office library and the libraries at the regional transit houses. We are, however, short on current bestsellers and books (in English) by African authors. (enough are available to keep you occupied, bring only a few that may be necessary here)

• Ziploc bags (sandwich, quart and gallon..but always a good thing to have sent in care packages)
• Coffee French Press (one of the last things I packed and have loved having it here)
• Plastic food storage containers, a good can opener, small teflon pan, and other kitchen tools for baking (spatula, bake pans, measuring cups).(you can buy most kitchen items in the market but the ease of use and quality is lacking of what we are used to)
• Your favorite spices or sauce packets. Local markets may have bay leaves, chili peppers, garlic, anise, and peppercorns. Other spices such as curry, oregano, etc., can be bought in Lomé. Seasoning packets for pasta are highly recommended, as are cinnamon and burrito/taco spices.(bring spice packets from Rice-a-Roni and other boxed rice and noodle meals..couscous, rice and noodle all available here...cheddar broccoli and other cheese mixes are favorites)
• Garlic press and Cutting Knives (not needed, fork anyone? However good sharp cutting-chopping knives are a must, chopping and paring)
• Powdered drinks straws, Favorite Teas, Instant coffee creamer powder. (you can find some similar kool-aid like drink mixes but crystal light and others are good for a change, also lipton original black tea is most common, coffee creamer powders add a nice taste to the coffee one finds available)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 1 of Spectacle week ..SUCCESS

They were all winners in the end.
SO here are some photos from the soccer match I organized in my town between the middle school and high school. This match was to jump start the community-wide talent show events of this weekend and in the end...after all the stress and sweat running around town organizing, I felt good at the turnout. No one was hurt, the lycee (high school) won the close match and all the players walked away with school supplies to aid in thier final exams. Thanks Friends of Togo for helping me realize the first part of this weeks events.

Team White Lycee d'Adeta (High School)

Team Blue CEG Adeta (Middle School)

The referees make a final plea for a safe match after I signaled the event with a speech and the opening kick.

What a beautiful (but hot) sunny afternoon in Togo for a match.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

CACAO detsi…..enyo

In my attempts to find a recipe that the locals can use to transform their cacao harvest into a profitable delicacy, I decided to try another attempt at making some chocolate. Since a chocolate bar could never survive its shelf-life in this heat,I felt that it would be better to make a sauce or “detsi” as they call it in local language. This way, the jars of sauce could be conserved until consumed. (Note: it only takes about 3 Yovos 15 minutes to terminate the contents of one jars of this miracle elixir) Don't judge... we are deprived of such confections here.

Here in Togo, there are many “healers” selling concoctions of medications to cure anything from hernias to arthritis. There are herbs, elixirs, pomades and creams alike. All bottled and sold by the local “faith healer.” Although sodabi (local moonshine-palm wine) mixed with a certain bark, root or herb is known to be the choice “cure all” amongst the locals, I feel that with the right marketing tactics and promotional tag lines, I can convince them that eternal enlightenment and happiness lies in the very product they rush to get out of the country, cocoa. Why not make some of it available in the local market so you feel the lovin’ it brings to others around the world.

Although the majority of the health benefits of cocoa are found from noshing the raw, unprocessed nib (which I confirm is not that bad and although quite bitter, very stimulating)

Thus…the journey begins…from bean to bar (or bread in this matter)
I gathered the cacao beans from my farmers union, roasted them and then hulled to then take to the moulin (mill) for grinding down into a creamy paste. Since in previous attempts, I was unable to grind the beans down to the micron size of velvet chocolate liquor, I thought to give the good ole local mill a whirl. This method was much more efficient and it was wonderful that I was using local resources available to them. The chocolate beans went in the chute as the motor clamored away and out came a fudgy pulp in 5 minutes, for the bargain price of 20cents.
Taking cacao beans to a mill to be processed was not a common activity in my village.  Rice, corn, peanuts and millet of course but cocoa beans? Since it's not part of the daily staple, they head straight to the port for export.  Sight of this activity attracted a group of villagers who all began to comment on what I was doing. Most often in village, when you hear the word “yovo” (foreigner) sprinkled in conversations, esp. those in front of you, you know they are talking about you. I turned to my friend Yank and asked what all the gab was about and he began to recite their reactions to what I was doing. They were expressing sentiments on the fact that none of them have ever thought to figure out how to make chocolate from the cocoa bean. It’s the yovo who jumps in with curiosity and a desire to create that little delicacy unavailable in a land that produces the raw materials it is composed of. My desire to figure things out and make it for myself opened their eyes to intuition and experimentation.
Maybe a lack of fortitude on their part is all just from a lack of informative resources. Chocolate as a consumable is not common in the market (rare to be exact), and you can’t blame them for the lack of it's  promotional presence in their consumer culture. We grew up with TV and Mr. Wizard, culinary shows, Martha Stewart, and science fairs, then the internet appeared giving us home video promotions and how-tos on You-tube. Therefore, I took the initiative to share the knowledge of exploration and do it yourself prompts we are graced with.  Knowledge can be quite delicious at times.
After the mill, I stopped by the local boutique to find the remaining ingredients. For making chocolate one must use powdered milk and confectioner’s sugar (no liquids). Powdered milk is abundant here in the land of limited refrigeration therefore this shouldn’t be an issue. The only lacking ingredient which is only found in larger cities is honey and vanilla; therefore I made two different batches and made alterations to the recipe accordingly. 
Returning home, I began to fondue the chocolate in a double boiler and then add the other ingredients. For 1kilo of raw cacao nibs ground into chocolate liquor, I added the following ingredients (note; this is just an estimate since it was added little by little according to desired taste and consistency) I adjusted the recipe to make it more cost efficient and easier for the Togolese to create into a profitable elixir (hence the appearance of sweetened condensed milk in place of the more expensive powdered milk and honey)
1 kilo cacao beans transformed into chocolate liquor (makes 4 jars)
2 small cans of sweetened condensed milk (1 ½ C)
honey ~
cayenne pepper~ vanilla ~(optional)

After the desired mixture was complete I sterilized glass jars and filled them with the piping hot sauce. I then capped them and they sealed shut upon cooling. I returned to village that evening with the “cacao detsi” to put my new product to the test. I cut up little bits of sweet bread and offered taste tests of the samples to the locals. (One was spiced up with cayenne and became the quick favorite to many.) 
They were all a little apprehensive to try it at first, but those who had seen me earlier with the raw cacao beans let their curiosity lead them to “gouter” the food of the gods. (…Which brings me to another idea for its marketing scheme… add the notion of “dieu” (God) to the label and it’s an instant sale to the many spiritual villagers….hummm… “Detsi de Dieu” Sauce of God…perfect!)
And…it was a hit! I had many takers and in just minutes the bread was gone and the jar licked clean. I made the calculation and found that after all the cost of ingredients and labor they could find 30-40% revenue on the sale if they targeted the tourist population as well as other addicted locals. Hopefully in a matter of time you’ll be buying “Dieu’s Cacao Detsi” from Togo.

Mia du nu ("eat with me")…Bon Appétit!

Note: It’s addictive, and since I still have some jars left I haven’t been able to stop taking a lick of the good stuff. I am high on antioxidant flavonoids!  Ihave been in a good mood all day, even better when I found huge Mangos for sale…tis the season YO…ohh its heaven on earth here in Togo.

Here are some factoids I found on what cacao does for your health. I believe all that is said below since after eating a large breakfast of my “cacao detsi” smothered on bread with bananas I entered the day with sunshine and joy all around me…best cure all for depression! However my “mélange” has been altered to include sugar, honey, milk, and a bit of vanilla and cayenne. Therefore it may just have been a sugar high…

~Take note ladies and gents~
Antioxidants: Cacao has more antioxidant flavonoids than any food tested so far, including blueberries, red wine, and black and green teas. In fact, it has up to four times the quantity of antioxidants found in green tea. Health benefits of these antioxidants include:
Promote cardiovascular health - Help dilate bloods vessels, reduce blood clotting, improve circulation, help regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, lower LDL cholesterol, and reduce the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Protect from environmental and metabolic toxins - Help repair and resist damage caused by free radicals, and may reduce risk of certain cancers.
Neurotransmitters: By increasing the levels of specific neurotransmitters in our brains, cacao promotes positive outlook, facilitates rejuvenation and simply helps us feel good.
Serotonin - Cacao raises the level of serotonin in the brain; thus acts as an anti-depressant, helps reduce PMS systems, and promotes a sense of well-being.
Endorphins - Cacao stimulates the secretion of endorphins, producing a pleasurable sensation similar to the “runner’s high” a jogger feels after running several miles.
Phenylethylamine - Found in chocolate, phenylethylamine is also created within the brain and released when we are in love. Acts as mild mood elevator and anti-depressant, and helps increase focus and alertness.
Anandamide - Anandamide is known as the “bliss chemical” because it is released by the brain when we are feeling great. Cacao contains both N-acylethanolamines, believed to temporarily increase the levels of anandamide in the brain, and enzyme inhibitors that slow its breakdown. Promotes relaxation, and helps us feel good longer.
Essential Minerals: Cacao beans are rich in a number of essential minerals, including magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.
Magnesium - Cacao seems to be the #1 source of magnesium of any food. Magnesium balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, and helps regulate heartbeat and blood pressure. Magnesium deficiency, present in 80% of Americans, is linked with PMT, hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and joint problems.
Sulfur - Cacao is high in the beauty mineral sulfur. Sulfur builds strong nails and hair, promotes beautiful skin, detoxifies the liver, and supports healthy pancreas functioning.
Essential fats: There is a misperception that chocolate is fattening. In truth, the fats in cocoa butter are healthy fats. Cacao contains oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, also found in olive oil, which may raise good cholesterol. Also, substances found in cacao are known to help reduce appetite.

Important note- To fully benefit from chocolate’s wide array of nutrients, eat chocolate that is as close to its natural state as possible. Whole cacao beans and nibs are best. You lose many of the health benefits when you eat commercially produced chocolate.

Barack au Bureau

The best thing about heading to Lome to work at the PC bureau is not the wireless internet which makes you feel like you were surfin stateside... nor the air-conditioned lounge… or the Lebanese restaurants take out menu (though if you call the number listed…it’s for a guy who no longer works there and therefore “delivery” was just a fleeting dream).

It is the fact that when exit the volunteer lounge…after suffocating from the wall of humid heat that lies outside…You get to open the door…take a breath of cool air and breathe a sigh of relief…and smile as you see Barack looking back at you.

Its times like these you feel good to represent America…especially when your Togolese co-workers jump for joy over the same realization…finally… we are all ambassadors for CHANGE…

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Ak bey ka ka loooooo… (thank YOU!)

My community embraces your donations

If I am correct in guessing, due to the vast arena of support I have through family and friends stateside, my community project has been funded. (since it is no longer on the PCPP webpage) I feel so loved and now I get to pass it on to a whole village! I realize that I have some fans back home cheering on my efforts and those of my community. Thanks so much for all of your support. Soon, there will be a wonderful and captivating place for a small community in Togo to engage in the promotion of its talented individuals. I will be keeping you all posted on the development through my blog and will also be creating a blog for the exhibition hall as well. So as they say here...”petite a petite l’oiseau faire son nid” (little by little, the bird makes his nest)
…and little by little, you have all helped to make a place of inspiration for the people of a town in Togo…
“Georginam… Enyo ento!”
Here are some of the amazing people who will benefit from the installation of the exhibition hall.

Chez Claudine and all her girls

Chez Kossi the tailor who is seeking a partnership with a seamstress to expand his operations.

Yankee Décor, who seeks a place to promote his personal art pieces which rest hidden in his stall due to his occupations and obligations in village as the local painter and sign maker.

You’re looking at the plot of land where the new Center for Creativity and Community Development will open it’s doors.

The promotion starts here…with the HUGE talent show in just a matter of weeks!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Got a few pennies for Togo?

Just a friendly reminder, in the final months of my service I hope to complete my goal of the construction of a community exposition hall to promote the talent of my village and be available as a forum to share ideas and develop as a community. My project is currently posted on the Peace Corps Partnerships Website and is looking for just over $500 to complete the goal. If you have a few pennies in your piggy bank at home to donate to the cause please feel free to visit the site and read all about it here.

To show you just who you will be helping, here are some images of the last event held in my village by “Teleloisir” a T.V. Station from the capital who holds game shows at locations around the country.

The local pastor and choir bring down the house with the first performance of the evening. I think I may make an effort to attend one Catholic mass if it is as entertaining as this was. However the thought of sitting in a hot stuffy church for 4 hours when I could barely attend the hour long services back in the states is preventing me from going.

My women's group of rice farmers, whom I assist in marketing practices, put on a skit and act about the harvest. This was by far my favorite act since it encompased the talent of my “grams” in village as she belted out songs in local language and shook her groove thing dancing the traditional chicken dance. I was taken back at her agility at that age, yet realize that age has played a part on her ability to carry a tune, factor in the use of a microphone in the hands of an elder and've got a need for earplugs.

The local comedian “Sans Valise” put on a hobo act, explaining his travels without a suitcase, and then showed the audience why one is not necessary as he stripped down to his boxers, removing 20+ layers of clothing. I don't know what impressed me more, the legs of that man or the talent of wearing 20 layers of clothing on a 80 degree evening.

And then, my favorite performers in Adeta, the “Chicago Boyz” did their dance theatrics. I'm telling you once I upload this video you are going to see some raw talent. They specialise in modern hip hop and traditional african dances and you'd be impressed. I am every time. But for now here's a pic from another event where they displayed a more traditional approach, taking avantage of the rain that paused a graduation celebration for seamstress apprenties.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

whats cookin?

Here is one of my favorite dishes prepared by Chantal and requested by me almost everytime I stay with her

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Hey newbies..packing list coming soon

Hey all of you getting ready to ship off to Togo. I have been contacted by a few of you and promised to upload a packing list of what and what nots for living in Togo. Don't worry coming soon...but here is a glimpse back to when I was in your shoes.

Moments before my departure I had it all laid out on the apartment floor. I had my list checked it twice, weighed my bags a million times and in the end realized that this was all over analyzed..sometimes you just need to let the chips fall in place and hit the open road. (Note: I didn't use half this stuff...and requested other things I had forgotten or omitted to be sent in a care package)

In the homestretch..

All of us...survivors of SED Togo... 2007-2009
So I though you may like to see who has made it through the two years in lil ole are some goony pics of my PCV stagemates and I. We are getting ready to go to our COS conference in a month, where we will determine our departure dates, file out our debts, drink Togolese beers and think back on all the good ole days..wasting away in Togo.
This is all of us acting out the traditional way the Togolese pose for picture taking.

And this is how us silly American croonies do it..with style (notice the influence of a consumer culture)