I’ve sent many emails out about this by now, but for those of you who’ve managed to fly below the email radar, I just wanted to do a little bit of blogging about this amazing project that I’m working on right now called Camp UNITE. Camp UNITE first started in 2001 as a week-long camp for talented and motivated Togolese school girls, and, because of my own experiences with camp, I volunteered to be a national organizer for camp this year. Since 2001, the program has expanded to include a week for Togolese school boys, as well as a week for boy and girls who are involved in vocational training (mechanics, hairdressers, tailors, etc). Togo, as you all know by now, is one of the poorest and most undeveloped countries in West Africa, and Camp UNITE is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Togolese kids.
I’ve heard so many amazing stories from past participants about what an amazing and transformative experience Camp UNITE is for kids. Camp is completely FREE for Togolese kids, but we need donations from people like you back in the US in order to make camp run! It costs about $80 to send one Togolese child to camp, so even the littlest bit helps. The US Embassy and other Togolese NGO’s have already agreed to help fund a large portion of camp, but we need about $9000 to help make up the difference. So, please, please, please consider making a tax deductible donation to Camp UNITE through the Peace Corps website. Our project only went up online last week and we’ve already raised over $2000!
The link to make an online contribution to Camp UNITE PCP is (the project is in the name of Jillian Gleason, another volunteer organizers): PEACE CORP Partnership
The link for the Camp UNITE website (created by RPCV's) is : www.unitefoundation.org
Thanks for all your help and support!
As for what else has been going on in my life here in Togo: I've been traveling out of village a lot for the past few weeks, which has been a nice change of pace. I was in Lome for awhile doing work, and I had a great vacation in Ghana and a wonderful visit from Kerrie, an old camp friend, this past week. It was so much fun to see Kerrie and show Wassarabo off to her and her girlfriend. It was also so interesting for me to see how they perceived Wassarabo and Togo from an outsider's perspective. I've had a few fellow volunteers stay with me in Wassarabo, but Kerrie and Hazel were my first "non-volunteer" visitors! Wassarabo welcomed them with open arms, and I think Hazel and Kerrie were truly impressed with how warm and welcoming the village was.
They also got a great taste of "how to travel Togolese-style," on our trip down to Lome from up north this past Friday. We allowed ourselves two days to get from Wassarabo to Lome, which is more than enough time (from Wassarabo to Lome should never take more than 7 hours), and had a relatively pleasant experience on the first day. On our second day, though, what should've been an easy 2 1/2 hour car ride turned into a crazy 5 hour trip. We were jammed into a small, five person car (we actually had the back of the car all to ourselves, which is a luxury here in Togo--normally they force 4 people into the back and at least 3 people in the front), and stopped so many times for so many absurd reasons that I lost count. At one time we had to drive almost 20 minutes out of the way, to a random market in the middle of nowhere, to drop off this girl who was selling palm oil. We also had to switch cars because our original driver didn't have the right papers to get through a military check point and then ended up having to drive all around Lome before finally making it to the Peace Corps office. But the best part of the trip was definitely when our driver stopped to load up 4 loud, bleeting goats into the back of the car. The goats were tied together and were NOT happy about it, and spent most of the trip crying and trying to kick themselves free. Oh, Togo.