As I’ve said before, things here operate differently in the day-to-day life. Cell phones are commonplace here- many people I know will have two or three phones or sim cards. Second to phoning is dropping by, a daily occurence at our house, and something we do regularly for work, when we are organizing an event or have something quick to discuss, we generally get on the moto and stop in. Sometimes we’ll phone first to see if they’re home. However, texting does not seem to interest people, and its very common to have a camera phone. Its like texting and digital cameras (separate from phone) have been skipped altogether!
Reading & ‘riting: The disinterest in texting is likely also linked to literacy rates here. According to wikipedia (cringe), it’s 52.2% adult males and 23.6% adult females that are literate. It’s hard to find a newspaper in Ouidah, but everyone has a radio and you can hear them playing most places that you go. Computer literacy is even more limited to males: many females here can’t read and computers aren’t often at home to practice on, meaning you need to pay for courses at the internet café and also pay for the time you spend practicing. Even then, if we remember learning how to use a computer, learning to click & type is enough of a feat, let alone navigating the internet! It also doesn’t help that power cuts are daily, and at times for hours and the connection can dissappear at any given moment, or is sometimes quite fast, or is very slow. Or, if it’s my situation today, the cyber I went to was randomly closed, and the next one had a wait to get a computer. Not everyone is willing to take an hour and a half to hunt down a computer… these factors can turn an e-hound into a luddite in a matter of seconds!
When you greet someone, you shake their hand every time you see them, even if you don’t know them. If they’re working or their hand is dirty, theyll extend their arm for you to touch. Same goes for when you’re leaving! Even when I go to and leave work, I shake my bosses hands each time, so, four times a day per person! I quite like this, theres all sorts of handshake variations if youre good friends, related, acquaintances… it can really say a lot.
We went to the village Ouessè the other day to see the womens association, Gbedokpo. The “moulin” (tomato grinding machine) has been having troubles since 2010, and was bought in 2009. In the profits they had made in 2009, they had been putting money away for repairs, but those savings have been exhausted so now the moulin sits, unused. On several occasions, the presidents have gotten nearby villagers who are familiar with tomato processing to try different repairs, but it really only works for another month and then breaks again. The presidents think it might be better if we replace the moulin, buying an aluminum one instead. This is where “research” comes in. At home, the research I’m used to includes online journals, google, ebsocohost and jstor, maybe a bit of library perusing if I’m so inclined. Here, it means that the other day, when walking around Ouidah, Jacqueline (new volunteer) and I saw two functioning moulins, and so we sought out the fellow who oversees them and he said that his were also made of iron, but it’s worked for five years. His was ordered directly from a welder, as opposed to Gbedokpo’s which was from the market. Now that we’ve made contact with him, we’ll look into how much it will cost for his welder to do the repair by bringing the moulin in, and he’s quite confident that it would be a permanent fix.
‘Rithmetic: Last but not least, I bought three cases of formula for Kakanakou, the little girl. The best price for one case was 900 g for 4600 CFA ($9.81 CAD). Three cases, totalling $29.42 CAD should last about six weeks, so by the end of the six month period it should cost a total of $117.68. Total donations so far are $120.00, so the remaining dollars will be put towards the tomato processing fix, as I learn more about that!
Pictures are to come, by some lucklessness I havent gotten computers with USB plugs in tact for a while.
A la prochaine!