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