November 30, 2013, Posting from Lara, my daughter who is teaching in Togo, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer

1-14476_10151611011141819_1137617227_n3 months in Sagbiebou

It’s almost December 12th, which marks 6 months here in the wonderful, lizard-abundant Togo.

The past three months I’ve been in my new home, Sagbiebou. Sagbiebou is a small village in Northern Togo home to roughly 4,000 people. The village was founded around 15 years ago, so it is relatively new and, thus, quite diverse. The two main groups are the Gam-Gams and the Anufo; however, each day I hear a new language – be it Wobi or Ewe or any of the other 72 languages found in the country.

The initial month at post was difficult to say the least. The Peace Corps dropped me off at my doorstep with my mattress, stove, and bags…and I immediately lost all confidence whatsoever. My French was tragic and I had barely grasped any Anufo or Gam-Gam. Walking outside of my compound became my daily challenge; making friends the seemingly unattainable goal. Couscous, the conundrum of my life.

But patience and work attains all, right? Each day I made the awkward conversations in broken French with people in the market and kicked a football around with the boys in my compound, and by October I felt a whole lot less like I just got off the tilt-a-whirl.

October also started much needed work! School began and I met my 102 students. To be honest, teaching started out rough and it still is. Luckily, my kids and I are getting to know each other and we’re even having quite a bit of fun along the way. I’ve also successfully taught them each the word “accident” which they gleefully remind me every time I drop something :). However, with zero textbooks and only a box of chalk, keeping the attention of 102 students, ranging in age from 10 to 20, is a challenge.

The good news is I couldn’t ask for better coworkers. There are 6 other teachers and the director. Initially, being considerably younger then my counterparts and the only female was daunting but they are all very respectful and welcoming. This coming week we’re beginning an English club, followed by a Girls club.

My biggest goal during my service is to help keep more girls in school. The youngest grade at my school is called Sixieme – which is filled with dozens of girls. However, if you visit the class of Troisieme (3 classes up), the number of girls dwindles down to four. Why four? The reasons are numerous: early pregnancy, marriage, financial struggles, trafficking, sister-exchange, harassment, and, simply, a feeling of “what’s the point to continue?”

Luckily, Sagbiebou is a motivated village and the sentiment throughout is that we can do better than four. Not only can we, but we will.

With November at a close and December on it’s way – I’m relieved to say my languages are picking up speed and I feel a part of the community. I’ve met some great leaders and future leaders of Sagbiebou ready and willing to work. I am so excited to see how the next weeks unfold.

Posted by Lara at 8:39 AM


22 thoughts on “November 30, 2013, Posting from Lara, my daughter who is teaching in Togo, West Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer

  1. andy1076 says:

    Tipping my hat to Lara, She is doing something truly amazing with the gift of education. Truly a hero and making a big difference! 🙂


  2. mich smith says:

    Great news!! She is doing a wonderful job, she also sound very happy, I wish her the best of everything there and good luck.


  3. This is a fantastic and uplifting. How cool to share your daughter’s experiences with us. Hugs, Barbara


  4. Reblogged this on idealisticrebel and commented:
    This is so great!


  5. Wishing Lara all the best in her efforts to increase the number of female students at the school and having them continue their education.


  6. Lara is doing so great and I’m pleased. The language barrier can be a problem though.

    When I was in secondary school we had peace corps volunteers from the US. I remember one Ms Nelson, (can’t recall her first name) who taught us Maths. I’m afraid I was so weak in Maths and her accent and the fast way she spoke did not help matters as I never understood a word or rather an equation! 🙂


    • Thank you for your visit, Celestine! Yes, I can perfectly understand the language dilemma. I had the same experience when I attended the university in chemistry lab –all the teacher aides were from Taiwan and we could not understand them either. Somehow, we all muddle through…I suppose, in any teaching situation, if one heart meets the others, learning can occur. I think of the teacher as the “guide on the side not the sage on the stage.” I think the more students feel accepted as wonderful human beings, the more learning takes place, despite the language barrier. Just my thoughts…


  7. What a remarkable young woman! Thank goodness she is sharing her special gift with children who might not have another opportunity to learn. All the best to her, Diane


  8. I was so moved reading about your daughter, Lara. I am deeply honored that someone like you has decided to follow my blog, Petals Unfolding. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Bless you, Jonann! With Love, Amy


    • dear Lady Pinkrose,
      I am honored by your presence on my blog! I am just a person, like you! We are all here together in this Universe to help and be for one another. I appreciate your comment about my daughter, Lara. She is loving every minute of her experience! I hope one day she will have electricity to see all these wonderful comments addressed to her. I think she is a great young woman!
      Thank you! Blessings!


  9. inesephoto says:

    Your daughter has a brave heart and a generous and compassionate spirit! Stay safe Lara, your mom and all her blogger friends are proud of you, and send you our love 🙂


  10. Hi Johanna,

    My name is Linda and I was Sagbiebou’s first PCV in 2007. I stumbled on this blog post while looking for the village’s population for a presentation. Does Lara have her own blog? I would love to follow her adventures there.


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