Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another XMAS in Benin....*sigh*

Greetings to all friends, family, and anyone who has found interest in my blogs. Happy Holidays to everyone in the states and in other parts of the world. I hope you are enjoying the cold weather in the states because I really miss it. I would kill to eat some snow....I've been doing it every year since I was a kid. It's a habit that I just can't break. But since I've been here, I don't have a choice other than deal without it. I miss home. A lot. Last Christmas, I gave candy to all the children in my village. NOTHING was happening there for the holidays. People were just working and chilling like a normal day. I didn't even get a bonne fete (good holiday/party)? I don't think I have ever been that depressed. I went to my house and just cried pretty much all day. Not to mention I didn't get any phone calls. Not one. Sooooooo, you know I was feeling pretty down. Maybe I will get lucky tomorrow and someone will think about me. Okay. Enough with the guilt trip and sob stories. Things are going awesome nonetheless for me. I have started studying for the Graduate Record Exam and for the Foreign Service Exam that I will be taking in March. I have decided that I want to get into the Foreign Service as an actual career doing public diplomacy, be a consular at an embassy, or do international public health. Right now I am thinking about schools to apply to when I get back. I'm looking at Johns Hopkins or the University of Maryland at the moment. However things can change before I get back. The Foreign Service Exam is INSANE. A majority of people who take the exam fail it multiple times before they pass we'll see what happens. I will be willing to take it more than once if I have to so I'm not fully discouraged. The questions in the study book are absolutely obsurd!!! Do YOU know what model plane hit the twin towers during 9/11??? That was a random question. I know it was a plane. And I know it happened in New York City. Soooo, I got the question wrong. I have been encouraged by my work partners to take the exam. So I'll give it a go. PLEASE PRAY FOR ME!!!

World AIDS Day in my village on December 1st was a smashing success. Lots of volunteers came up to participate in the program. Male and female condoms were given out as well as HIV/AIDS awarness magazines and World AIDS Day t-shirts. They learned a lot and enjoyed the event. Also 200 people got free HIV testing in village that day. Also the US Ambassador was really impressed with my village and how organized things were. So things are looking good on this end. Apparently, the embassy here was so happy about it, they invited a girl from the states who works at the US state department to my post also. She came with the US embassy consulate. They were really impressed with my work in village and the consulate gave me the rundown on working for the foreign service. He was soooo helpful. I really want to do it. I really think the foreign service is my destiny. We'll see.

Yesterday, I treated myself to a holiday dinner and a silver ring. I made garlic pepper steak cooked in red wine with melted goat cheese on top. Served with a side of spinach and baked pototes. I had a split bottle of bordeaux wine from France and a big juicy mango for dessert. It was absolutely amazing. To top it off, the mother of a volunteer who I was very close to sent me a Christmas package!!! I got italian pasta sauces, scented candles (which I was always secretly envious of Steffi for getting often in her packages), cosmopolitan and trash mags (which i LOVE), tons of crystal lights and other cool stuff. That was soooooo nice of her. I needed the love. That's pretty much my update for now. Happy holidays everyone!!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Work, Work and more Work : )

Things are going great. Busy but great. Just finished the 12 day PD hearth Nutritional Recuperation program in a nearby village and it went fantastic! The children are looking better than when they first came to the program. During the program different porridges were made each day and the women were very motivated. Most of them made it to every class. They made various porridges with crushed dry fish, soybeans, moringa, eggs, bananas, tomatoes, onions and peanuts. They were all mixed with sugar and oils to add calories and taste. They all came out tasting pretty good and sweet. They also were given information on various topics on malnutrition and child feeding practices such as handwashing, diarrhea, vaccinations, and the food groups. Here are few pics of the program.

This is an added image to the health mural.

Learning about the food groups.

Adding moringa to the porridges. You know I love moringa!

Bonne appetit!

A mother placing an energy food in it's proper food group.
Explaining the recipes and the importance of adequate nutritional content.
The head nurse taking the roll call of the women and their children in the program. Taken at the end of the program to ensure they stay through the whole session.

The pavilion is pretty much finished. I just have to put a sealer on the paint now to make it last. We already use the pavilion to give health formations during our womens' group meetings and other events at the health center. It pretty much is a collection of health topics such as the food groups, malaria prevention, vaccinations, handwashing, sanitation and water borne illnesses including diarrhea. I left out HIV/AIDS prevention for two reasons, I didn't have the authority to promote condom usage and safe sex in the mural. Most of the funding of the heatlh center is through a catholic monestary in a nearby town. No sense in mentioning HIV/AIDS if I can't talk about prevention. So instead, I have health education sessions on the subject in the village without the monetary support of the church. I was a little disappointed at first but we have to be flexible when we are talking about health. Since I am a rural community health volunteer, the information will always be readily available if the people themselves are looking for it. People in my village have been buying the condoms at the health center so that is encouraging. Here are some updated pics on the pavilion. Hope you can understand it. No words are added yet we hope the meaning is captured in the images.

World AIDS Day is coming up on December 1st and I am planning a big event on awareness. It will be a complete and comprehensive day on HIV/AIDS education that will include films, a presentation from a person living with HIV/AIDS, a discussion on HIV/AIDS stigmas myths and facts, condom demonstrations, songs, HIV/AIDS testing and counseling for people with positive results, and a question and answer dialouge. Soooooo, it will be a big day. And guess who will be in my village during the event?? The US Ambassator of Benin!!! WOW RIGHT!!?? I will be sure to put up pics later on. So right now, I'm in Cotonou working on a grant to fund my event. I'll be heading back tomorrow because I have to bring back mosquito nets for my village. They came up with the money upfront to purchase them and I'm soooo encouraged about that. They are taking charge of their health and are not depending on someone to give them something for free. The sad part is there are no mosquito nets in the region for people to buy at subsidized prices. At least not his time of year. So I feel fortunate to know of an organization where I can purchase them to bring back to my village. I can't buy enough for the whole village at the same time but this is my third trip so far with purchasing them.

School started again and I have spoken to the teachers in a nearby town about having health talks in their classrooms. They are on board and i start my first one in this village on Wednesday. The topic will be on handwashing. They will learn the proper way to do it (with soap and or ash, and washing BOTH hands, not just the right hand that they eat with.) They will learn about microbes and worms and it's relation to improper handwashing and the lack of. They will demonstrate handwashing in the classroom and learn a song. I am very excited about it. The children really enjoy this lesson and I look forward to working with a new school.

Soooo, things are going great! Busy but great! Sorry I haven't been online lately to update my blog. Hope people are not discouraged by the absence and are still gaining from my online journal. I could still really use your encouragement and prayers. Keep in touch and thank you for all the support.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

More pics and an update....

Training has gone really well. I really love the trainees so far. Peace Corp quote~"In an effort to increase the exposure of dedicated Volunteers in the field, and the work of the Peace Corps, the Press Office has developed a “Volunteer Matrix” of star volunteers from all over the world." Guess what. I was selected to be the spokesperson for the health sector in Peace Corps Benin! So I might be on the website and other places. Cool right?! My bestfriend is coming to see me in less than two weeks!! I am so excited. Jealous that she will be in Nigeria while I am not allowed. It's all good though. We'll figure a way to see each other since she's sooooo close. Like and hour and a half. So Nia (volunteer from the north) came to my village for a day and we took some VERY interesting pictures.

So one of my friends went through my trash and found this Peace Corps article. And he speaks minor French so he wanted to keep it to remember me and my role as a volunteer. Next to Tom Kat. Isn't that cute?!

Yes that is what you think it is. A friend wanted to sell it to me. This is NOT agouti, the bush rat that I usually eat. However, regular rat is pretty good too : ) Don't knock it till you try it.

Group picture with some friends. The boy closest to me with his leg up is my "boyfriend." He is such a sweetheart. When people ask me where is my boyfriend or husband and I need to have one, he's my backup. Everybody gets a kick outta that. But eventually, people stopped asking me. Surprisingly, his french is really good and he's been taking English lessons with me.

Yes it is what you think it is. Good thing they weren't used. This is what happens when people go through your trash. I have a latrine to put the others but I totally forgot to get rid of the broken ones I had. One woman's trash is another man's treasure. Should I tell him what they are??

Me and Nia. The pic was taken in my house. I use a sheet as a door to seperate my two rooms because it gets hot. People respect the barrier so it's all good.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Training is going very well. They are adjusting to the culture here very well. It's also great to be with my host family again in the same town. Hopefully we can go out tonight. Coming back to Benin has been a good experience. Spending six weeks in the states really had me missing my second home. I went back to my house and I found it termite infested. Lovely right. Good thing I brought back a huge can of Raid. It seems to work better. I was expecting a package to come so I could start a cultural exchange program but it has yet to come after over a month. I don't know what's up with that. There are 56 new trainees and I already feel like some of them will be my new best friends. Peace Corps volunteers I feel in my own opinion are the coolest people on the face of this earth. If any of their family are reading this they are being taken VERY care of. We have been waiting forever for them to show up and it has truly been a breath of freash air. It's great to actually be about to give advice now and talk people through their problems. When I was new I didnt know ANYTHING and it is great to see how much I have grown in a year. I will be 26 in about a week and I feel soooooo old. But I guess it is great to be celebrating another birthday in Benin. I will try to make the best of it. Dont really know what to say besides I miss Nat already while she is away for two weeks, my village is still awesome, and I couldnt be in a better place. I'll write again soon. Aizande (later)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Back to Benin

I had an awesome time at home. But home also had way too much drama. But in a way, it was as if I never left. That's the ghetto for you. It is so strange to come back to where I once lived and find so many differences between Baltimore and my village. Where I live, there are drug addicts are on every other corner, you hear police and ambulance sirens as often as the birds, and you can never have a dollar without somebody trying to take it from you. HOWEVER, this does not describe all of Baltimore City. Just up the street everything is so much more peaceful. Although many will not like where I'm living, it was very exciting to be back in it. IDK why but it was. Maybe it was the action, or the idea that there is always something to do in Baltimore. I miss my friends already. I should've spent more time with my closest friends. I regret that but at the same time, I'm hoping they understand that Peace Corps in DC took a lot of my time I could've used to spend with them. When I was in DC, I wanted to do one thing, then all of a sudden something else pops up. As if I was on a Bmore addiction where I wanted to do everything. Now all that is over and it's time to get back to doing what I love most. Being in my village, getting back to work, and seeing my fellow volunteers in Benin. Can't wait to get back. I really can't. Don't you wish you loved a new place like that as much I do? It really is a great feeling.

Oh yeah, so when I got back from Benin, I found out that my weight dropped from 146 to 137 lbs. Everybody was talking about how thin I looked. I do not understand how that happened. Now I think I'm back to 146 lbs. It was ridiculous how much food I ate. I'm bringing back sunflower seeds, peanut chews, gummy hotdogs, and beef jerky for the kids. I also have a few baby clothes for my boss and some other stuff to give out. Hope everybody likes them. A toute a l'heure Amerique! (See you soon America!)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Moving along in Benin

Things are really picking up in village. I also have a slight addiction to Cotonou, the big city. I always have a great time there and I have really cool friends. One volunteer is being transfered to Botswana and she will be missed very much. I've been really sad about it. She is one of my best friends in the Peace Corps. I could tell her anything and she always understood me. *tear* But life goes on. She is very happy about her new placement and I sincerely wish her the best. I also lost all my pictures in my camera so I'm really pissed about that.

Now here's the good news

I have been selected to be a volunteer trainer for the next group coming in July! I'm really excited about it. I will be helping out with child nutrition training and will be taking volunteers to my village during their technical visit. I can't wait to meet them. Not too long ago, I was one of the new volunteers confused, frustrated, excited and curious at the same time. It's nice to be one giving out advice and counseling when they come in with many of the same questions we've once had. It's all a cycle. Before I know it, my service will be over and a new chapter in my life will have started. I'm really thinking about grad school. I was so sure before I joined Peace Corps, then I started changing my mind so I could go straight to work, and once again, I am thinking about it. I spoke with the country director today and she really gave me some good pointers about paths after Peace Corps. We'll see what happens. What I need to do is crack open that GRE study guide again. I'll be taking the exam in Accura, Ghana either at the end of the year or early next year. I always get my work done so don't worry about me.

I also have been selected as the Volunteer Advisory Committee representative for my region! VAC reps are responsible for getting the volunteers together in each region to discuss new ideas, problems, and changes in Peace Corps policy. VAC really gives volunteers a voice and I will be with 5 other VAC representatives dicussing with the country director and administration what fellow volunteers in my region need. So it's good to have an impact.

I completed the PD Hearth Nutrition Recuperation program in my village! It was the first one done in my village and it was a huge success! We had 45 children and 28 mothers participate. Out of the 45 children who were underweight and malnurished, 43 of them gained weight. There are four color phases in PD hearth which determines your weight based on age. If you are in the blue, you are overweight and green if you are a healthy weight. Yellow is slightly malnurished, and red is severe. Half of the children who were in the yellow moved to green, and all children in the red moved to yellow. And this was over the course of 12 days!! So work is going VERY well. We have added moringa powder as a nutritional supplement to their porridge and the kids can't taste a difference. Although there is a slight color change. We also have added other foods to the porridge such as soy, fish, eggs to help pick up the weight. Each day the porridge was made with a different key ingredient. I think for the next Hearth program I will show them how to make mango porridge. I think they'll like that one. Why porridge so much? Because it's an EASY, LOW COST, and FAMILIAR food to make in Benin and it's easy to add key ingredients such as moringa powder. I had some great pics of the program but they were lost. I'll take more at the next Hearth.

We are starting a moringa tree garden in the village. We will begin planting by the beginning of next month. If you didn't know what moringa is, I will explain this miracle plant.

It filters water
High in protein, vitamin C, vitamin A, Iron
Great for diabetes
Great for people with high blood pressure
It grows in parts of the world most affected by malnutrition
It grows in harsh weather environments
It grows VERY fast

So people are excited. Hopefully, in the next 5 years, they will be able to make revenue by growing the plant and selling the powder in the market. That's my update for now. A la prochaine (till next time).

Monday, March 30, 2009

What's new?

Things are going okay. I had a program in my village about HIV/AIDS awareness. I think I mentioned I was going to have an event in an earlier blog. It went very well. Over 200 people showed up. Most have not heard about the virus so the information was well received. There was a pretest on what the participants knew about the virus before the program was started. They didn't know very much. Many thought you could get HIV/AIDS through mosquito bites. Some though kissing can pass the virus. Some though the virus was in condoms. So there was a lot to talk about. A woman who lives with the virus came to the village to talk about her experience. Also we had a condom demonstration and had a series of films about HIV/AIDS in Fon. Lots of questions were asked and many people took the matter very seriously after hearing about it. So it was good work. Today I will be heading up north for a training on moringa planting. We will be starting a moringa garden in my village and the women are interested in using the plant in their cooking for malnutrition recuperation. So things are going really well. It's good to finally be working. Things here go so slow but when it goes, a lot can be accomplished. Also, I went to the Gender and Development dinner and auction. It was very fun. And all money raised went to a good cause.

Burkina Faso was great. I met up with a volunteer I went to college with. It's good to see she's doing well. She plans on extending her service too! What else is new. I am a little homesick. I miss my friends and family. I spoke to my mother last week and I miss her a lot now. I haven't been gone this long from her. But I think it's normal to miss mommy every now and then. You only get one. I am still upset with my folks though. They should make more effort to try and keep in touch. I can probably count on one hand how many times I have spoken to my folks since I have been here. It's kinda pitiful. Also if you wanted to know I am also still single and me and my ex finance never worked it out. Oh well. Sh*t happens. Also, I dyed my hair. It's a good look. I will put a picture up when I can. I also was selected to be a trainer for the next group of volunteers coming in July. Exciting right?! I can't wait to meet them. That's all for now.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Work in my village

Me in my village after a health formation. Images are the best way to get messages through to people with language and educational barriers. They were very happy with the program and wanted to take a picture with the drawings.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I am now single once again. WHY?? Because HE is a workaholic. I mean a REAL workaholic. When you tell your fiance that you were in a moto accident AND robbed and he doesnt call you back because he's too tired from work....we have a f*cking problem. Excuse my french. But that isn't all. Everything with him is about money and you can never compensate not being there in exchange for gifts, money, furniture, clothes, ect. All of it is nice but that's just not my style. He can have it all back and I'd rather be with the guy in my village who lives in a mud hut without anything else but at least I would know that he gives a sh*t about me. Not even a phone call on Valentine's day. AFTER I reminded him. I even called him the day I decided to give the ring back at his job but he didn't pick up the phone. I called him three times in a row. I asked the manager if I could use his cell to call him and guess what. He picks up on the FIRST ring! WHAT THE HELL!!!!

SOOOOOOOO what do I do?? I drop the ring off and made the decision that it would just get worse later on down the road. As fast as I got engaed, it ended just as rapid. Life in Benin....What a ride indeed!

On a good note, I am in Burkina Faso for the African film festival. It is awesome!! The bus ride was 22 hours long. And my body wants to sweat but the air here is so dry I can't. But other than that the country is gorgeous and I am having a great time with the other volunteers!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Drama...with a kind ending

Once upon a time, I was flat broke and in the need of some cash. But I had to go to Cotonou to complete my grant for my project. It was Tuesday and I was done with my proposal. The administrative assistant told me to say in Cotonou because a reimbursement was going to hit my account the next morning if I really need the cash. So of course I stayed. I didn't have cash for a hotel so I chilled over a friend's house. The next morning I was at the bank to find out that not only did I not have my Peace Corps ID on me, but I also didn't have any checks in my wallet. The bank wouldn't except my Xerox copy of my passport. Don't wanna carry that around just in case it gets stolen, you know. And I don't carry my whole checkbook on me just in case it gets stolen, you know. Crap. So I needed to get back to my post to get a check. Like a normal day, I took a bush taxi back to my post. Couldn't find my PC ID so I grabbed my personal passport because I didn't want to carry the government issued passport with my Benin visa in it, grabbed two checks (one to keep in my wallet unsigned), took a midday shower, changed, and headed back to Cotonou before the bank closed at 5pm.

I get to Cotonou, hopped out the bush taxi, put on my helmet, then jumped on a Zemijan taxi moto (get me there fast in Fon) to head to the bank. It's 4:52pm approximately. About a block from the bank, as the Zemijan slowed down to turn onto the street of the bank, BAAM!!!! Me and the taxi guy were knocked off the bike, I hit the ground on my left side, messed up my foot, my elbow, but my head was okay (I wore my helmet). It all happened so fast. A man in a gray shirt snatches my purse off my arm while I was under the bike and ran off quickly. I scramble up screaming voleur (thief in French) not even looking at how messed up my foot is yet, and run towards the crowd of people running in the direction of the thief. A man hands me back my purse, I say thank you, I check on the Zemijan, he's alright and does not want payment. I think the thief was getting beat up by the people. There was an awful lot of shouting. But I didn't have time to see what happened. I hear it's normal. Felt a little sorry for the guy. Then, I glanced at my watch in panic. It's 4:57!!!!! I BOOK IT to the bank, limping at the same time praying that the bank isn't closed yet. I get there just at the guard shuts the door in my face. I frown, gave a look of pain, showed him my bloody foot through the glass and he let me in. All I had on me was enough money to get to the bank and a cheap meal. I had about 800 CFA in my pocket $1.75 USD.

I stand in line, sit my helmet down happy that I made it regardless of the accident because I would've been screwed for yet another night in expensive Cotonou. I just wanted to get back to my village with money to get by. I look in my purse to pull out my check so I can start filling it out....but my wallet wasn't there. Wait...neither was my passport. NOOOOOO!!!!! I got outta line and immediately started freaking out. I didn't cry because that's a weak thing to do here in public. But I really needed to. I had no money, no identification, no way home, nothing, but luckily my cellphone was in the small pocket of my purse. Glad he didn't see that. I think the person who gave me my bag might have went through my things because although I got my purse back, things were missing. Who was I to call? I only had enough phone credit to make one call. I would've put more credit on it after I got my money. But sh*t happens. I wanted to call Peace Corps but the building was closed, and my foot wasn't so bad that it needed urgent attention to call in the doctor. It could wait till tomorrow. And it wasn't like the thief could write a check and get it cashed tonight with the banks closed. I tried calling my fiance, but he was in Porto Novo because of work and I knew he couldn't get to the phone or to me at that very moment. He didn't answer the phone. That's another drama....So I called my friend T. He's dating one of my fellow volunteers here. I knew he would help me out. He picked me up three minutes later on his moto and took me to a restaurant where I was to meet up with three of our other friends. I guess they were all hanging out before I called. Thank God they spoke English. I REALLY needed to vent. They were Nigerian and could understand me. My dear 6'5 big-footed friend K. greeted me at the restaurant door and hugged me without noticing that he was STEPPING ON MY FOOT!! He apologized in shock probably 20 times and helped me to the table. A COLD beer was waiting for me. Along with a cigarette. Yeah, a cigarette. I needed one. I drank the beer and smoked while spilling out what happened to me. They were shocked and very sympathetic.

Once we finished our drinks, I was escorted to the car and taken to a supermarket. I was told to pick out whatever I needed to help me feel comfortable. I picked out a towel, soap, razor, and a bottle of South African red wine and they picked out ice cream, snacks, champagne and hard liquor. Those guys can drink. They payed for everything then took me to the pharmacy and bought me pain killers, antibiotic ointment, and gauze and bandaids. I have no idea how many times I said thank you. Then we went over C's house and relaxed and listened to some tunes. The pain killers really helped.  The next morning (today), they cooked me breakfast and I was handed money since they knew I couldn't access any from the bank. It was way more than enough. They took me to Peace Corps so I could sort out all my information about my stolen items. I went to the police station to file a loss of ID form so I can get my account number changed at the bank. Then, I saw the doctor, got my foot and elbow treated, and she had me stay in the medical unit tonight. It is now 12:42am and I'm finished telling you about my story because I am tired and I'm now on my limping way to bed.

I was so happy and thankful that I had friends to look out for me. Of all my time here, on that particular day, I've had one of my worst experiences and also one of the best ones here in Benin. Moral of the story...It's good to have real friends.

The End

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm disappointed but I'm okay

Okay. I feel like putting my folks on blast. So I get to the Peace Corps office after two weeks thinking that I MIGHT have a package. Then of course reality sets in that my folks STILL haven't sent me jack S.uger H.oney I.ced T.ea the whole 7 months I've been here in Benin! I wanted to be pissed off then I thought about it and figured I shouldn't even waste anymore energy on hoping they'd send me something. I mean, can I at least get a freakin letter??? "Hey, just writing to see if you're alive and well." SOMETHING! This is getting ridiculous. How about anybody that enjoys reading my blog send me a letter/package/sympathy note because my folks apparently don't care about my needs over here. I know who sends stuff over here. Because I have become a vulture standing around when they're opened from time to time. Thankfully, some of the volunteers like to share. Sorry to complain but this is the only place where my depression comes from. I'm not very homesick, I haven't been ill here, and things are generally okay. But when you do not get correspondance from home, it really puts a shadow over my days. Of course this blog is not for the people that DO check up on me in the form of letters, emails, calls, and packages. I really do appreciate them. These are the things that keep me going.

On another note, I am planning an HIV/AIDS Awareness Kickoff in my village on March 25th. Former President Bush allocated money set aside for programs in Africa relating to the epidemic. Say what you want about the man, but the money will be put to good use. All the funds through this program needs to be used by March 30th. So of course, I wrote a grant to get some of that money for my village. The program will first consist of a two day crash training course about the virus to the nurses at the health center I work at. The nurses there told me they have not received training about the virus. They do not use gloves during injections. Only during births. They told me that blood is not touched during the injections. Yet I have seen blood touched a few times. I asked them what would they do if a women or a man comes in the health center WITH the virus and they KNOW they have the virus. They said they would wear gloves. Then I asked them, how would they know WHO has the virus if there is not testing in our village. They were silent.

After the two day crash course training the nurses will help me run the program, a film about the virus in the Fon language will be shown to the village, a person who lives with the virus will come to speak to people. Then there will be lunch. Afterwards with the help of the nurses, there will be two seperate health sessions, one for people 15 and older (how to put on a condom, fidelity ect.) and another for the children under 15 (don't touch blood, seperate razors for scarification, basic modes of transmission) so the messages will be understood according to age and experience. At the end of the program will be a game of soccer played by the children of the village.

I also will be doing a four day bike tour riding to different villages talking about HIV/AIDS with 10 other volunteers at the end of this month. All together we will be biking around 30 miles. I'm very excited about it. Also the first week in March I will be traveling to Burkina Faso for the African International film festival. I'm VERY excited about that too. I hear there are strawberries grown there. Like I said before, it's the little things that make me happy. Also in March I will be in a two day training up north to learn about moringa. Google it!! It is a MIRACLE plant for malnutrition. It's grown in the poorest conditions in the parts of the world most affected by malnutrition yet few know about the plant. Can't wait to start a moringa field in my village. Then following that, I'll be going to a Gender and Development fundraiser dinner. A married couple is coming to Benin in July for service and the wife went to my small 2500 student populated college!!! It's really a small world! I'm very excited about it.

So in conclusion, my folks suck, work is going well, and I'm doing pretty good.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kaili's Birthday!! VIP exclusive!!

Out with the girls!

Let's just say we have some awesome friends in Benin who really know how to enjoy themselves and have a great time. What a night!! If you haven't noticed, I grew my hair out in the front a little. It looks more fun that way I think.


Monday, January 19, 2009


Here's a picture of three islands. Never thought I could do that at one time. Too bad I didn't have enough time to check them out.
Wow right?

Bon appetite! My mom would be proud. Somebody even asked what restaurant I got this from...Satin's kichen : )

Very beautiful coastlines. Chilly though.

Bye Senegal!!

That's right people. I am in Senegal! The most west part of Africa, home of Akon, and some of the most beautiful people on the planet!! This place is absolutely gorgeous. Don't get me started on the Peace Corps building here. It makes the one in Benin look like a homeless shelter. Well, at least our old one. I'm not sure how the new one is gonna come out until I get back next week. I'm talking marble steps and staircases, air conditioning in the WHOLE building, NICE bathrooms (nicer than the hotels in America type nice), and I can even get food delivered here!! WOW!! So I'm living it up...for a short minute. Senegal is gorgeous! So much more developed, mansions everywhere (at least in Dakar because Cotonou, Benin has them too), nice weather (I'm FREEZING in 66 degree weather), and TONS of stuff to do. I can't say too much now because this is my second day here. I'll fill you in next week. But it's awesome! I'm about to head to the bakery to get me a FRESH baked bagette to go with my omelette. I DO have to cook mostly here. It's high as S.uger H.oney I.ced T.ea here!! Last night I made baked red snapper with a lemon and garlic butter sauce served with jasmine white rice and corn. The next night, I sauteed some spinach with it. You know a girl can throw down in the kitchen! ; ) I got four whole red snappers for about two dollars!! I love being on the coast!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

So the new year started off great!! This is the year where I will remember to love myself as well as my work. I want to get in shape, start on a project in my village, along with a personal endeavor. I might try to get something published. I have a journal online as well as one I handwrite in. I have some good thoughts I'd like to share with people and now is the time to share my memories. I went to Lome, Togo for New Year's. It was a beautiful experience. Lome seems to me that it's infrastructure is better than Cotonou. That's just my opinion. I stayed on the beach, chilled in VIP, ate good chinese, and danced all night.