I can’t believe I’ve already been here that long. That means I’m about 1/3 of the way done with my service! A few months away from the one year mark! And everyone tells me the second year flys by! In reality, I still have a long time to go, but I need to stop and remember to absorb all the Africa I can while I’m here. I really love living here (most days) and I feel really comfortable in this country and in my village.
Actually, I haven’t been spending a lot of time in village lately. In March, my friend Chandler came to visit for 10 days. We spent a few days in Cotonou, then took a bus up to Biguina where we spent two nights. After that we went up and over to Kandi to go to Parc “W” and finally to GAD fete in Parakou. Chandler is a very talented film photographer. Take a look at the pictures he took of Benin here. Chandler’s visit and his pictures made me fall in love all over again with this country. It’s easy to get used to all these crazy things that happen around me (ie riding in cars with cows, eating bush rat, etc.) and it’s nice to look at Benin with fresh eyes.
After Chandler left, I was in village for a week before heading to a training on live fencing and beekeeping in the northeast of Benin. It was an awesome experience; we learned a lot and it was really fun to hang out in a small group of awesome volunteers. The first day we learned about different types of trees that can be used as natural barriers for gardens and then we helped plant a few rows of seeds to enclose a community garden. Day two was devoted to beekeeping. First we learned about different kinds of hives, the composition of a colony, harvesting and processing the honey, and then we looked at an empty hive. In the afternoon we suited up and harvested honey from a active hive! It was so cool! I got to use the smoker for a large portion of the time and then I got to cut off the honeycomb from the slats. The whole training was really awesome, but the beekeeping was my favorite! I would really like to implement a beekeeping project in Biguina if I can find some interested villagers.
Here we are preparing to
shoot off into space harvest honey.
In other news, the chicken project grant has been submitted and hopefully funds will be in my account by the end of April so we can get started with construction in May!
Also, the bike tour we did in February was a great success. Biked 80 miles in 4 days and talked to over 1,000 people about the importance of mosquito nets and saving money. Can’t wait to do another bike tour!
Our girls’ clubs are going well. Henry and I have both been out of post recently and the girls have had some vacation time as well so we haven’t had very many meetings recently (although I did do a sex ed/delaying pregnancy/condom demonstration with them and they seemed to enjoy it). Hopefully we’ll be able to have a few productive meetings before the school year ends.
April means another In-Service Training. This will be in Porto Novo, near where I spent the first 3 months in country. IST is most valuable as a reunion for volunteers who haven’t seen each other is a long time.
That’s all folks. Thanks again for the packages and letters. And special thanks to Chandler for visiting me.