I officially moved into Togo House after dinner on Saturday! I only just got internet at Togo House (though it is pay as you go, so it’s best to post blogs and pictures at the Hutchinsons’ house when I can), so it has taken me a few days to get this posted. But so far I am quite enjoying living there.
Like most houses in Togo, Togo House and its property are surrounded by a wall for protection and clear boundaries. Within the wall at Togo House there are a few different buildings. First, is the garage where the ministries and programs of Togo House take place. This is a long open space where tables, chairs etc. are set up to meet the needs of any given day’s program. Directly behind the garage is a house where Daniel, the Togo House director, lives with his wife and two young sons (who have become my playmates in the yard). Next to all of that is the house in which I live. Around and between these buildings is a yard with a little grass and lots of trees (which provide amazing shade!). Also in the yard on the opposite side of my house from the garage is a cage where Daniel keeps agouti (large rat-like animals – see pictures below) for breeding and guinea pigs as pets.
The house in which I’m living is great and a nice set-up for volunteers. It is right next to the Togo House garage where all the ministries and programs take place, which is really convenient. It is safe, both within the walls and in the community. Mike has suggested I walk around the community several evenings a week to get to know the community and people who live near Togo House. I have a nice porch on the front of the house that is shady and breezy, which makes it nice for sitting outside from time to time. Inside, I have a nice living room with a couple sofas, chairs and a coffee table. Connected to that is a nice little dining room space. Off the dining room is a decent little kitchen that works well for volunteers. Though I must admit that I’ve had some struggles in adjusting to the gas stove and having to wash dishes in water with bleach. Down the hall are four bedrooms: two on each side of the hall with a bathroom in between each pair of rooms. My room is the only one with a bed and functioning as a bedroom at the moment, so the bedroom on the other side of my bathroom is currently functioning as a place to hang my laundry to dry and potentially an office-like space. The bathroom on the opposite side of the hall is functioning as my laundry room. My small washing machine is there, although it is not yet set up to power in order to run. The electrician is supposed to be coming any day. Finally, on top of the house is a wonderful, open rooftop. It catches a nice breeze and has a great view. It’ll be a nice place to hang out from time to time, especially when it’s extra hot and I need the breeze to cool off (though of course I also spend a lot of time sitting directly in front of my fans).
Additionally, all the windows and doors in the house have screens, so I can keep them open for a breeze while not filling the house with nasty bugs. This is important, because, trust me, I have enough bites already to prove that the bugs can be nasty. Several times in the last few days Togolese, such as Daniel, Jimmy (one of the Togo House guards) and girls in the youth English club, have commented on how bad my bug bites look and have been quite concerned for me. Don’t worry, I’ve been putting medicine on them to prevent infection and control itching and they’re all healing nicely now. Plus, now that I’m at Togo House I keep most bugs out of the house and sleep under a mosquito net, so I’m getting far fewer new bites.
The other day, Valentine (another Togo House guard who is here in the afternoons) knocked some coconuts down from a tree in the yard. Daniel and his wife cut several open for us. The kids and I stood back and enjoyed watching them chop up the coconuts with a machete. Then we drank the milk (or water as they called it) directly from the coconuts and they cut up the meat to eat. It was yummy and fun to watch! I can’t say I’ve ever had quite such a fresh coconut, as it was only about five minutes from the time it left the tree until I was drinking the milk!
I enjoy playing with Daniel’s sons in the yard. Since the yard is all inside a wall with a gate, it is safe for the kids to run around, which means they are often out playing. The oldest son, Ezekiel, is quick to find me and enjoys playing with me. The younger son, Ellie (I’m not sure what his full name is, but thankfully they all call him something much shorter that I can understand), is not as sure about me yet. After leaning up against me for protection while we watched his parents chop up coconuts the other day he’s decided he can trust me a little more. Hopefully in the future he’ll join his brother and me when we play.
Here are some pictures of Togo House and my time there so far: