Bonswa fami and zami mwen! (Good evening my family and friends!) I am writing on my last night in Ti Twou. It is so sad to think tomorrow I am leaving this wonderful family and community. I spent the evening at dinner holding Pere Abiade and Djemisie’s six month old daughter, Abdji and whenever anyone asked for her, I said NO! It is my last night to bond with her and to remember her as the beautiful baby at this blessed age. Next time I see her, she may be running and she may not fall asleep on my shoulder…
Every morning I get up at 6AM and walk down the road, partly for exercise and partly to experience the community as they begin their day. People are at the well getting water, kids are taking their animals to feed, people are walking with me on the road. By 7AM, kids are on their way to school. I will miss this too.
Today, we finished our three day “Ti Biznis” or mini society. I have to say it was a huge success. Everyone had so much fun, making products and today, we invited the first year students, Pere Abiade, our other visitors to come to the sale. There were photos (will share them later), laughs and lessons. The sale itself only lasted about 15 minutes, and Pere Abiade came at the end, and spoke to the students about our plans for the third year. This was helpful in that it gave weight to what we were doing. He also “bought” a few products with his monopoly money!
After the sale, the class returned to the classroom and processed all we had learned. Djemisie took the lead and helped figure out the results of the sale. Each student was responsible to pay back half their loan. The other half of their loan they could use to buy products. Any money they didn’t spend, they had to return. So that left them with just their profits. Djemisie called up each student and asked them about their experiences and what they learned. Mostly, they were happy for this experience and couldn’t wait to get the opportunity to have the experience with real money. I didn’t say that that would be on their own dime but I did say that as they weren’t all completely successful, isn’t it a good thing that they get to practice and practice and practice. Djemisie reinforced that message! In the end, one student received a price for her successful business and each student who participated for all three days, received a small reward.
On a wonderful serendipitous note, I took Jennifer and Savannah, our two assessment specialist from Old Dominion University out for an evening drive up into the hills to see a new area. On our way home, Jennifer asked if we could stop by this little sign she had seen about a women’s co-op. She had already stopped by once but hadn’t found anyone there. So we went, and we found a man who explained that the group was a women’s group that fought violence against women and fought for women’s rights. And as it happened, they were meeting right then in town. So we drove to their meeting spot and found them. What a wonderful experience to connect, Jennifer and Savannah, working in women’s studies and the women of Petit Trou. (I just got to be a lucky by-stander.) They are planning for Friday, international day of women. They are going to march in support. Unfortunately, I will miss it.
Well, that’s it for Ti Twou. I can’t wait to talk to you all. I would say that my work here has been so hopeful. There have also been things here I have seen and heard that cause me heartache, mostly related to lack of food. So it is a balance of what is hopeful and what is heartbreaking. Love to you all! Teresa