The following post is re-blogged from my little cousin's blog. What you won't read in the post is the fact that she's given up all her worldly possessions to pursue her passion for adventure, her need to be free, and her resolve to make a difference.
Those are my words, not hers. I haven't seen my little cousin Katie in over 13 years; anything I say about her is based on nothing more than our occasional Facebook exchanges, sporadic emails, and innate familial gut-feel.
This girl isn't a back-seat driver. She needs to be at the wheel. She needs to DO. Sitting back and wondering ''What if ...'' isn't what she does.
What she does is runs straight into the fire and shouts ''IMAGINE if I HADN'T!!!!''
You can read more about her adventures here.
Volunteering in Togo
We couldn’t wait for the time to come and finally it’s here. We had a quick stop over in Morocco exploring markets, crowded streets and what I can only describe as purely beautiful exotic chaos. The owners of the apartment we rented onlyspoke Arabic which made for some interesting conversations using our hands, bodies and any prop we could get our hands on. A genuinely caring older couple with loads to tell us.
Our stay was short in Casablanca and are arrival in Lomé felt overdue. The 4am arrival wasn’t overly welcomed, but it’s all part of the travels. We slept through our first day, but haven’t wasted a second since. The streets are dusty, except for when it rains of course in which case they just turn muddy – not sure which I dislike the least yet… Pretty much everywhere we go, I feel like I always encounter at least one person (if not much much more) who seemed stunned when they see me. Some shout “yovo” an apparently non-offensive slang which translates to “white man”, kids usually get quite excited and love giving high-fives, and then there was that one toddler who have just looked and me and cried instantly. I tried not to take it personally, but could I really be soo ugly as to scare a child?? Which also brings me to the numerous marriage proposals I’ve received in my very first week, and endless request to “be my friend”, or have my number – so take that you scaredy-cat kid, can’t be that ugly after all!
No but really, Lomé is nice. The Togolese are generally very kind, shy and a little reserved, but once they get more comfortable they can also be quite curious. Our current accommodation is basic, although very comfortable. Honestly, as 2 volunteers, I think we are very welltreated and looked after and in comparison to some local accommodation, ours is really nothing to complain about.
We were lucky to find a great little organization called PDH. They’ve been around a while (17 years now) and seem to have their hand anywhere they can help. In just our first week we have completed hospital visits, personal home visits, work visits for a young girl trying to start a small business to support her mother dying of AIDS, several school visits and endless projects and activities here at the center. We are busy, the work can be very emotionally draining, but the rewards of laughter and joy make it all worth it. It is mindboggling to see how many people in this country struggle with basic human requirements. Mothers unable to support their young with just basic needs like food and water, forget schooling. Children without mothers or fathers, who seem to just be raised by their surrounding communities and extended families.
At PDH we have regular evenings where we cook food for the kids, I’ve never seen little ones so keen to get their hands on food, but not only does this little gesture make them so happy, they seem to never want to eat it at the centre, for all of them, their number one priority is taking the small bag of food home so they can share with their family. Take a moment please, allow that to sink in….
PDH functions solely on donations, volunteers and the generosity of others. It is why we helped them with the creation of a fundraising page for their upcoming Christmas event with the kids and the completion of the roof required on two of their classrooms at the centre. I am taking this opportunity to reach out to anyone who follows my blog, in hopes that you may make a donation – no matter how big or small – even $5.00 can go a long way here. Even simply sharing this information with friends and family helps PDH in unimaginable ways. If you are keen to find out more about them their information is below.
Fundraising Page: http://www.gofundme.com/together-we-can-for-pdh-togo