Friday, June 25, 2010
My Post - Tchekpo, Togo
Hurray! Yesterday we all got our designated posts. It was a fun day for all of us. In about six weeks we will be heading out to our designated villages and begin our two years of service. I don’t know yet, whether or not to be happy about the location I received, but I've talked with a few PCV's and administrative, and they assure me that this will be a very good and interesting location. I will get a more in depth summary of it tomorrow when I have a one on one interview with the Director.
This is what I know so far. Tcheckpo is about 60 miles from Lome, and about 40 miles from Benin. I have three or four volunteers on all sides of me, and their villages are within 40 miles of mine. Tchekpo does not have electricity or plumbing. I can live without plumbing, but electricity is really nice. I think I'll be able to purchase a small generator big enough to charge my equipment, and I can use battery or kerosene lamps. Electricity is out half the time in Togo anyway...so this isn't as big a deal as it seems. I've learned that you just become very resourceful. I'm not sure if there is a cyper cafe, but if not, I am very close to a town that does have one.....so I'm thinking at least once a week I'll be able to get on the internet. I will have full access to my phone.
Tchekpo is a medium to big sized village and is located on a river. Because of it’s location it is a fertile area for farming and it has a rather large farming community. They produce a lot of vegetables, egg plant and fruit. Tchekpo also has a palm oil manufacturing plant. The Chief, who happens to be the Chief that I met a few weeks ago, believes there is much potential for Tchekpo, but that the businesses and the people of the village, have no structure. According to the chief everything is too informal, and he believes there is a potential for “these small unstructured businesses to be bigger profit making businesses.”
My first task will be to set up my house, get to know the people and then do a needs assessment of the business structure in Tchekpo and of the community in general. There are some women’s self-help organizations in Tchekpo, whatever that means. And there are some formal youth groups and apprentice programs available. There has not been a peace corps volunteer in Tchekpo for a couple years.
I’m excited to finally know where my village is. It seems to me that is a pretty good location and that it has enough resources that I might be able to help with some business and community organizing. I’ll be really happy when training is over, and I can start to do the work that I signed up for.
They give us more than enough money to set up our houses and purchase furniture etc. My counter-part in Tchepko will help me find a good place to live. It will be so great to have my own little house.