There’s no Ikea or thrift stores for purchasing furniture for our new house. However, wood is plentiful and there are dozens of carpenters in our town who custom make furniture. Here, the finishing touches are being put on our bed. It cost $60 U.S. dollars without the mattress. The other specialties of this carpenter, coffins (on the right) and school desks (on the left), are behind the bed.
Peace Corps’ training ends with a swearing-in ceremony where we officially become Peace Corps Volunteers. This is our group of Community Economic Development volunteers (in matching outfits as is tradition here) with, from the left: Benin’s Minister of the Environment, Minister of Education, Minister of Micro Enterprise, Peace Corp Benin’s Director of Programming and Training, the American Ambassador, and the Minister of Rural Health.
A visit to a different agricultural training center during PST (pre-service training). Songhai is an amazing place that is leading the way in sustainable agricultural training in Benin and West Africa. The farm is organic and produces almost no waste, reusing waste products as the input of other parts of the system. They have restaurants that use what they raise and a store that sells juices, dried fruits and vegetables, eggs, dairy products, seeds and more. Students come from all over the world to study here.
Jen and I are both in the CED, Community Economic Development, program of Peace Corps Benin. Volunteers in our program are assigned to communities to help promote economic development.
This is a picture of our CED group talking with the founder and boss of the farm from yesterday’s photo. Pascal is a busy man – in addition to founding and running this agricultural training center, he is the president of Benin’s rice farmers’ trade group. Talking with Pascal gave our group a lot of ideas about promoting entrepreneurialism in our future communities.
This is part of a really interesting agricultural training center and working farm that we visited during training. In the foreground is a man-made pond used for raising fish – catfish and tilapia at this farm. There are banana trees in the background. This farm also raises coconuts, pineapples, manioc, sweet potatoes, rice, papayas, rabbits, snails, turkeys and chickens. They have an integrated model where nothing goes to waste – the chicken poo is used to raise maggots that are fed to the fish; aquatic plants filter waste water; methane gas is collected from other waste and used to partially power the farm. It is a teaching farm and has a program for people to come and intern while they learn the various sustainable farming methods.