Is that picture really what my job entails?!

Right now, we are starting to be more active in “Right to Play” which is a Canadian organization that aims to teach kids about health issues, teamwork and cooperation via games. It seeks particularly to communicate the risk of AIDS to the kids, and to integrate girls into this learning process (boys here are more likely to get to participate in school and extra curriculars).

The program had begun just before I got here, but the partnering organization provides us with the resources and tools to create leaders for the kids (through 15 volunteers), and dozens of game ideas which teach different lessons. Theres a complete program of how to do each presentation. For the kids, it includes a warm up, initial discussion introducing the topic, the game, and then a bit of talk to reflect on the topic and then another activity… there is a lot of singing and dancing!

Right to Play does provide us with the informative resources, but they rely heavily on volunteer power and cant fund us while we carry out the program. We’re starting to work on that now, as many games call for props: ie a garbage can, or a bouncy ball, and it is a challenge to keep some of the volunteer coaches committed to the program without financial compensation.

We continue to also do presentations for the womens associations which is my favourite part of the job, but the activities with Right to Play tie in well. With the womens groups, we do a series of presentations over several weeks: discuss the details on aids: how its contracted, what to do if you have it, and close with challenging the women to talk to their husbands and kids about it. Then we return to discuss how the talk went, who had success, who didnt. Then we’ll go back again and this time the kids will also be there, and we will do another presentations, this time teaching the kids about AIDS. Its fascinating having these discussions, and seeing the groups reactions to our information, as well as hearing the questions that come up.

In other news:
-last week my boss’ wife had a baby boy (exciting for many reasons: I didnt know he had a wife, a pregnant one no less! So we went and visited a few hours after he was born)
-We had a pretty great birthday bonanza yesterday as I hit 23. Jules taught me that in Cote d’Ivoire, the birthday girl doesnt get to know anything about what will happen-everything is a surprise. So, before I knew it I had the day off, and a Beninoise beer in my hand. Our group of 8 (apparently everyone has “flexible” jobs) danced the afternoon away in the empty club and headed home for a nap, then off for supper at Chez Maman (we go their at least once a week for her chawarmas). Amber even got a cake decorated for me, which is not a simple task here!!
-I got my hair extensions and braids in black and purple (read:excruciating!) on monday- it took seven hours. I am enjoying them while theyre still on my head as I can guarantee you two things: they will be taken out soon (I have four heads of hair on me. In this heat, it feels like I have a racoon on my head), and I will never get this done again (too much pain for too long)!! Live and learn, haha.
-The Pope is coming to Ouidah in November! I never thought I’d see the Pope, let alone while I’m here, how bizarre. Things are starting to pick up in speed here, as buildings are popping up and roads are being finished for his arrival. Of course, that could also be because another international icon is coming to visit in November… Brad!