Sunday, March 22, 2009

GAD Dinner and Auction

So GAD-- "Gender and Development"-- is this fund that is here in PC Benin to offer $$ for volunteer projects. GAD Small projects are the easiest grant to apply for because it is all internally done within Benin and doesn't involve processing from DC or any of that bureaucratic stuff. The most you can get for a GAD project is 50.000CFA, and applications for GAD grants are reviewed every month so there is a quick turn-around on getting money to work on a project. Every project using GAD funds has to in some way impact the gender development and equality, etc.

Pic: Weihow, Carie, and Christopher at GAD Dinner

Normally every year there is an All Volunteer Conference in Cotonou, where the Peace Corps picks up the tab to spoil PCVs in one of the nicer hotels here and host a bunch of different activities, etc. This year, unfortunately for us, with our stellar economy at home, All-Vol was cancelled. The real snaffoo about that though is that All-Vol was the event where funds were replenished every year for GAD small Projects Fund, because we always hosted a dinner for volunteers and expats who would pay for a ticket and take part in a silent auction to benefit GAD. Since that wasn't happening, we hosted our own Volunteer weekend up in Parakou with a more low key dinner, silent auction, and the tab picked up by...ourselves.

I got to Parakou Friday and checked into my room with Carie and Kaili and hung out until the talent show and date auction that night. The whole night was a ton of fun, and the dates were outrageously funny to watch being pitched and bid on. I was really impressed how people ponied up for GAD and the price that some dates went for. I won a date with 3 other people with our friend Tim, so he better show us a good time. When this blessed date will occur, I haven't the foggiest because we are scattered all across Benin.

Pictures: Friday Night at the date auction and dinner. First there is me and Heidi, then a pic with Jeremey, and my 'meillieur ami' in-country...Weihow. We were trying to make a BFF sign with our fingers but it was backwards and entirely unsuccessful. Since we had a bidding war at the auction saturday night (which he won) maybe this was just a foreshadowing...haha.

Pictures encore: First you have a group shot of all of the RCH (Rurual community Health) volunteers that came to GAD Weekend with Chadsey...honorary RCH volunteer, right up front (he really is an environment volunteer but clocked far more hours with us all through training and In service training, because RCH is clearly awesome, and really...who wouldn't want to come hang out with us?). Next you have, Nathaniel, Mani, Carie, et moi. be entirely honest, Saturday we did absolutely nothing but lounge in bed in our air conditioned room and attempt to watch a movie before giving up on the sound from the computer without speakers. It was a fantastically lazy day, but it was just nice being with other volunteers...especially my RCHers, some of whom I hadn't seen since IST in December.

Saturday night was the GAD Dinner and auction. It is kind of like Peace Corps prom, for lack of a better comparison. Volunteers go all out and get nice dresses made, or even have them sent from home. You almost feel like a human being and not a bucket of grunge for a few hours. The auction was really nice. There were a lot of things sent from home and donated (all my extra toiletries, etc. are going to GAD next year for their auction). Also, a lot of artisans and little restaurants donated thigns to the auction for volunteers and I ended up bidding on these wine bottles some artist doctors up with paint and paper machee. They look much nicer than I just described them. Anyway...comme j'ai dit deja, i was in a bidding war with Weihow and he beat me out, paying 11.000CFA for the ones i really wanted (I got my second choice for 4.000). I would have kept going but i know the artist lives in Bohicon across from the marche there and I just couldn't do it. The dinner was at a hotel run by a french couple in Parakou and so the food was decent and the ambience was nice. There was also a pool, and quite a number or people were jumping in in full fancy attire. It was really nice just being with everyone. I think it was good that the dinner went on and we were all there with our friends and for each other. We did a dance for Kate and took a moment in her memory the night before too. It would have been a lot more fun with her there in person but I'm pretty sure she was there in spirit and would have wanted us to party on.

Pictures: Carie and I being ridiculous, dennis and the severed arm touching mariana inappropriately, Rut and Heidi suiting up to head off to GAD on the moto (there really is NO way to have good hair in Benin, ever, when you add in the moto helmet), our table, meg and carie being ridiculous, Rut and Heidi; a shot of Rut, Kaili, Meg and Jeremy; Me and Carie.

This morning it was up and out at an obnoxious hour and now i am in cotonou until wednesday. After I am going to a friend's village to work on and HIV/AIDS mural painting and sensibilisation project until Saturday. Kate's more official open to the greater public memorial service is on Wednesday morning.


PCMother said...

Love the dresses.

Catherine said...

You look awesome buddy!