Monday, July 28, 2008

Hey Again
Back in the cyber at Porto Novo but I dont have a ton of time so will trytosqueeze as much as possible for now. Thanks for all the comments and support. Training is exhausting but going well. It is split into technical, cross cultural, and language training. I bumped up to levels in french not that that now entirely matters as i just found out my post and will be in a village that spêaks ADJA.

So I am going to be in DOGBO in the mono couffo region of southwestern Benin. I have a "post mate" aka another volunteer (tefl=teaching english foreign language) in my village with me. and several other PCVs are in the region. Im the only health volunteer but it leaves open opportunities for cross sectoral work. The area Im in tends to be more aggressive in terms of being yovoed and harassed by men, etc. but I guess you just have to develop a thicker skin. Ill be working with an NGO and my primary projects will tend to focus on HIV AIDS or SIDA as it is called here. The Couffo region has the highest concentration of AIDS infected Beninese. But as it is, HIV / AIDS really is not as bad for Benin as for many african countries. Malaria is without a doubt the WORST health issue in Benin. Its also frustrating because no one in my host family sleeps with mosquito nets even though they are considerably well off and know the risks, etc. Plus pretty much everyone here thinks they have the Pallu here (paladisme or malaria) EVERY time they are sick. Case in point, yesterday my "papa" woke up sick and says to me "Oh, cathi...its the pallu." Doubtful, but okay. It doesnt help that the health centers will treat for mallaria along with everything else because it is easier than testing what is wrong so people always have the idea that they have malaria.

Okay...so my house. Peace corps Benin actually has the highest housing standards for Peace Corps in West Africa because its been here for 40 years. We all have to AT LEAST have our own private latrine with a cover, private shower room, cement floors and walls (no mud huts for benin) windows and doors with screens and locks, tin roofs, and at least é though preferably " rooms. It kind of depends where you are. So Im pretty happy about that. I have electricity when i get to post for a few hours a day but my nearest source of water will be 200meters away. Thats a long way to haul buckets but what can you do? I think a lot of volunteers hire local kids to do it. While Being in the south unfotunately means that all my papers will continue to be soggy for the next to years perpetually with this nasty humidity, the odds of me having scorpions in my house like in the north has significantly decreased, which pleases me. The town has a pretty big marche, and is closer to Lokassa, another town with pretty much anything you could need in it i am told. My region has grand popo in it==the Big beninese beach resort and the ONLY safe beach to swim at here since the riptides are VERY Deadly. Also apparently there are some hippos who live by me and you can take a little canoe out to check them out which seems interesting since hippos are apparently kind of mean and I would NOT want to be in a little canoe like boat near one. Oh, another fun fact about my spot is that there is a fanmilk depot. Fanmilk just might be the most delicious snack in all of benin. its a togolese product and its kind of like icecream in a capri sun like pouch. Men walk around honking horns with little carts of fanmilk and during chaleur and pretty much every day here, when the fanmilk horn blows all the yovos in the area go running. They have us in the bag for anything cold here. My area will have 4 seasons, a long dry, long rainy, short dry, and short rainy season, which seems better than the norths 2 season year with the harmattan sandstorm winds. Well my time here is running out and i have to get ready to go au village today to practice some sensibilizations. I will try to get back for a longer time later this week to post more and respond to emails. Thanks everyone. I miss you all a ton. PS = I still havent figured out apostrophes or exclamation points etc on french keyboards. major bummer.

5 comments:

Aunt Loretta said...

Hello darling ... it was so great to speak to you yesterday and G'ma and G'pa where so thrilled to hear your voice and be able to chit chat with you for a few minutes. You're new place sounds amazing! I'm hoping my home phone gets fixed soon so I can call you from there. I have a much better international plan on my home phone and could speak to you at greater length. My package mailed today, so be on the look out for it. Ha, Ha, Ha I beat Aunt Nancy again ..... :)
Love you. Be safe and I'll be in touch soon. Hugs and Kisses Aunt Loretta

Aunt Linda said...

Hi Catherine,Just a quick hello from the Egan household. I still find it amazing that you have begun your new journey and it really hasn't sunk in yet, it's like reading something out of the National Geographic not something from my neice. Well our pkg went out today also we sent a little fun stuff for your host family and a little reading for you. Enjoy pssst I also wanted to beat Aunt Nancy to the post hahah Love you, Aunt Linda

Lynn said...

Dear Cat, I think about you so much, and I use the computer only on my days off really, so this is why you haven't heard from me, but I am about to write you an email right now, I just wanted to leave a comment to prove that I read your blog and I think your situation sounds wonderful, although I don't know what to do because now I can't call it your mud hut. Thanks for thinking of me when you weigh African babies. Love Lynn

Catherine said...

Hello Dear Friend,
How are you? See I'm much better about responding. Wow, you're definately living a different life over there. I still can't believe you're gone and what your life is now, but some how I bet neither can you :)You're definately "roughing it" ,but it's an experience and I hope you're doing ok. Staying safe and sane. I think I figured out how to work Skype so going to give you a call soon. Promise! Miss you oodles! TTYL and please please take care of yourself, be safe. Cat

maman et papa said...

Bonjour Catherine,
Voici que je respond en français ! Je croix que tu et prêt, pas vrais ? J’espère que tu vas pas être fâché mais je doit aussi apprendre a écris. Et aussi, personne ne sait lire mes mots ! (haha)

Juste pour te dire, Maman et moi on a décide q’on vas téléphoner deux fois par semaine – Mardi ou Mercredi et Samedi ou Démanche. Pendant la semaine on va parler pour dix minute et alors plus longtemps le week-end. Ont espoir alors avoir beaucoup de question pour toi. Comme le Démanche passer, sa a bien aller pour parler plus que trente minute. Sa a aussi été bien pour nous d’entendre ton voix et aussi le coq !
Sait possible de prendre des photo de les autre gens qui sont la avec toi ? Alors on va avoir un visage avec le nom. Sait aussi possible d’avoir des photo de Maman et Papa et les enfant ? Et ta chambre et la maison où tu restes ? Ont espère que tu a pris beaucoup.
Quant vas-tu aller voir Dogbo ? Peux tu demander pour changer si tu et pas content la ? Es que tu peu avoir une outre PC avec toi dans le même place, sait a dire un room mate ?
Je croix que tous qui respondre sur ton blog et vraiment excite de le voire. Je sais que les gens au club demande chaque fois q’on y vas si le blog été a jour. Je sais pas pourquoi il ne peux pas voire eu même.
Alors – sa suffit pour le moment. Ont et très fière de toi. Beaucoup de bis et a bientôt !
Ont t’aime BEAUCOUP !