July 4, 2001 - Personal Web Site: My Mud Hut by Volunteer, Terry Turro. The opinions expressed in this site are not those of the United States Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ivory Coast: Peace Corps Ivory Coast : The Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast: July 4, 2001 - Personal Web Site: My Mud Hut by Volunteer, Terry Turro. The opinions expressed in this site are not those of the United States Peace Corps

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My Mud Hut by Volunteer, Terry Turro. The opinions expressed in this site are not those of the United States Peace Corps

My Mud Hut by Volunteer, Terry Turro. The opinions expressed in this site are not those of the United States Peace Corps

This site expresses the views of Côte d'Ivoire Peace Corps

Volunteer, Terry Turro. The opinions expressed in this site are not those of the United States Peace Corps.

Gita's Cauldron 8 May 2000

My good-byes made their way to the last difficult few. On the plane to Philadelphia this morning, I saw a woman walking in with her new zip-off pants and hiking boots looking a bit like she had been hit by an emotional truck. She went right to her window seat, sat in a ball looking out the window and pulled her jacket over her head. Yep--

Another Cote d'Ivoire Peace Corps volunteer reporting for duty in Philadelphia. I saw her later at the registration meeting at 5pm and you would have never thought it was the same person. She got over that pretty quickly. Seeing all these volunteers in the same room is a bit surreal because no one knows each other, but yet, we all look like a bunch of clones. We shopped from the same list, at the same stores and just went on the same bureaucratic roller coaster ride for the past three months. Everyone is meeting each other very quickly. We really don't have much choice. We will enevitably get to know each other all too well in training. Tonight, I've chosen to be a looser and write in my journal back in my hotel room instead of going out to the bars. Do you think I'll be pegged for the next to years? They're all going to wake up tomorrow knowing each other and I'll be left behind. Oh, the social pressure!


You can look but don't Touch! 16 May 2000

It's been two days since we landed in Abidjan. I haven't written in a while because I just needed a few days to get used to acclimated to the weather. My impressions of Cote d'Ivoire are 48 hours old now and quickly changing.My first impressions of Africa began on the plane. We had a stop in Dakar Senagal before flying on to Abidjan. The Senagalese were dressed pretty sharply. After stressing for a month about taking just the right clothing to make me comfortable, I realized on the plane that I looked like I was ready for the jungle.

We arrived in Abidjan and got through customs very quickly. It's nice traveling with Peace Corps. We took a bus to a Catholic Mission in Bonoua just an hour east of Abidjan. There are 54 Stagieres (trainies) and we will stay here for five days to get us ready to interact with the locals. When you realize you are here for 27 months culture shock can be pretty devistating.

We have a lot to learn in the next few days to keep us from freaking out when we live with our host family for three months. There's a lagoon at the mission where we can get a glimps of local kids swimming. Interaction with Ivoirians has been limited to our (formatures) language teachers / cultural facilitators. They are pretty modern and a good way to ease us into Ivoirian life. I'm pretty good with dealing with other cultures, but I have to say the stress of the heat, humidity and limited hygene is enough for now.

At night we dansed the Mapuka around a fire with the locals. I'm here!

The Release 17 May 2000

After 5 days in Bonoua we got a picture and information sheet on our family. We will be staying in Alepe for the next 11 weeks taking Language and technical classes. Lisa's staying with the Sectetary General. My father is the Chef de Service Administrative to the Mayor of our town. Tomorrow there will be a reception at the Mairie (Mayor's office). We will meet our families and let the fun begin.

Home Afrique 20 May 2000

I've just received my host family (for three months during training)

Front: Ettima, Eric, Nado. Back: Florence, Tantie, Baby Guy.

Evariste Kouakou Yao (Father)

Augustine Amenan Konan (Mother)

Gilberte A'da (Aunt/Servant) a.k.a. "Tantie"= Auntie

Eric Tossie Yao (Son) 11yrs

Florence Ahou Kouadio (daughter) 9yrs

Nado Bessly Yao (daughter) 8 yrs

Ettima Margeline Yao (daughter) 6 yrs

Guy M. Yao (son) 2 yrs

I live in one room of a three bedroom house with a 15' x 15' courtyard. The bathroom and kitchen are off the courtyard. My room is also off the courtyard and is a concrete room with aqua painted walls. I had a few things made like a desk ($2.50) to make my stay a little more comfortable. Being comfortable has been a challenge. But relatively, I am living in luxury. I have electricity and running water.

I even have a fan.

I put the net up after sleeping with a frog and a cockroach.

Lizards are everywhere!

The first week here was difficult. The combination of taking classes from 8am-6pm in unbearable heat and humidity, eating futu and bush rat, breathing pollution all the time, having diarrhea with no toilet, and feeling light headed and disoriented from the Methloquine( anti-Malarial drug) took it's toll the first week. I couldn't deal with it anymore and just wanted to get on a plane and go home. We all went through similar attacks the first week and realized we just have to take it day by day and accept the fact that we're not all meant to be here.

Classes are going well. I'm very impressed by the Peace Corps commitment to language; We have 1-3 people per french class. Last week we met with the Mairie to ask some pretty tough questions-- like why do you let the trash piles around town just pile up? It was a bit discouraging because we will each be assigned to a town with problems not unlike Alepe. Trash piles up because the truck broke down three years ago and there's no money to fix it. The chickens, goats and sheep eat from the trash pile all day the enters the food chain. Did I tell you I become vegetarian again? I'm proud to say I tried. I ate bush rat and trash pile chicken the first week. When we (the Urban Environmental Management Volunteers) get to our site we will have our work cut out for us. It's been difficult to watch kids with large stomachs from worms bathing in run off water after a rain. I have a lot to learn just to keep myself from being shocked.

Un Repos 3 June 2000

Today we took a break to celebrate Moto's birthday Moto is our Mother/Training Director.

Dancing with the Formateurs

Yep that's me!

Djakwajo 14 June 2000

I'm getting settled in here and the life is making more sense. My host father has been sick a lot lately with the Djakwajo which is Malaria. Most Ivoirians get Malaria quite often yet they don't have screens on their windows to protect them from mosquitos. He looks pretty sick. He baths himself with a herb mixture and drinks Tea with citronella leaves. The rest of the family has digestive problems. I don't have the whole story but every morning at am my host mother starts mixing water clay and red hot peppers. I was a little disturbed because I thought it was the sauce for my dinner. It turns out, my family, who are from the Baoule tribe of central Cote d'Ivoire like to give themselves hot pepper enemas in the morning to clean out their system. I'm willing to try new things, but not this one. (I'll try to get a picture of her preparing it.-Tell me if you wouldn't be disturbed too) As for me, I was pretty sick last weekend. I had to walk over to the nurses house at am with a 103 fever. I stayed there for two days for observation. The Peace Corps nurse is a nice woman from Cameroon who takes great care of us. My body is still trying to get rid of something in my stomach. Nothing a hot pepper enema wouldn't cure.

I've started saving money to get ready for my new job. We get three dollars a day to live on from the Peace Corps, so I started to buy some pagnes (pronounced pon-yaa) which are dyed local fabric. I've had four shirts made for $2.00 each. They look great. I'll take pictures of them. I'm waiting to have pants made. I should be set for working at the mayor's office. Ivoirians dress very well no matter how unbearable the heat gets. This will be my biggest challenge.

Grand Bereby 25 June 2000

Eat the cola nut in the right hand, then take the fish and hot pepper powder as a chaser with the left hand. Our welcoming ceremony in Grand Bereby was quite the event. The UEM Volunteers all went to the coastal town of Grand Bereby for 3 days to see a good example of a small city solving its environmental problems for itself. It's had a volunteer there for three years and the change from Alepe was inspiring.

The bus ride took six hours but we were just happy to get out of Alepe and see the road. We even found Pringles in Sassandra. It's amazing how something so small can make me happy these days. We arrived in Grand Bereby to a reception at the Mairie (mayor's office). The village chiefs were there. That's them in the front row. It's lower 80's and late afternoon so they're a bit cold. I like the one with the fluorescent green ski cap. The Chief on the far left with the Nike baseball hat is choking on his cola nut. I'm still looking for that spear you wanted, Mike-- but I don't think I'm going to find it with these guys.

For the following two days we spoke to the Mayor and his cabinet about the their successes and failures over the past three years. It was so nice to be in a town that cleans it's streets and hauls it's trash. The Mayor is pretty tough. The Chief of Hygiene ( a post in the Mayor's office) has taken away the dishes from women who wash next to the road causing erosion problems on the dirt road. He give's the dishes to the Mayor for them to pick up and get their slap on the hand.

Aside from business we got to stay at the hotel on the beach. Not glamorous, but it's all relative.

La classe a cote de la plage

Liberian and Ghanaian fishing boats

Musique IvoirianI woke up with the Measles? No, just bed bugs.

First lesson in African transport- It will breakdown it's just a matter of when. We broke down for two hours on the road back to Alepe. Little by little the villagers came out of their mud huts watch us wait for the next transport. But that's OK-- we got to go to the much coveted Abidjan (the Capital) to change transport. Since the coup, Abidjan is off limits during training but we got to go for an hour to change transport and eat Lebanese food. We later found out that their were rumors of another coup that weekend. It was a false alarm.

Afrique Moderne 02 July 2000

I took out my digital camera this week to take pictures of my host family. My host mother runs to the TV, turns it on with the remote, and insists that I take her picture with the TV. I'm just beginning to scratch the surface in understanding how important the television is to Ivoirians.

Fourth of July Talent Show 09 July 2000

What were the Peace Corp volunteers doing on the day the Military attemped another coup? We had a pot luck lunch to show off our new cooking skills and a talent show.

What was the most common ingredient in all the food prepared? Bleach.

What food was not allowed on the menu? Foutou

I made pineapple juice and Passion fruit juice. After it was strained through the hands of every family member I wasn't so sure I wanted to drink it. But I did and survived. Anyone who knows me, knows what a feat that was for me.

De Vangas Singer/French Teacher

Barbara de Detroit

The Little Volunteers

An African Secret

.003 second Water /Sanitation PyramidWater and Sanitation Yankee Doodle Dandy

Can you tell our teachers like to dance?

Guibéroua Library and Computer Center

I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the Guiberoua library and Computer Center. We were very surprised at how quickly the money was raised. I will be receiving the exact list of donors soon. You will receive progress reports and photos of the completed project. I received the check the second week of July. The project completion date of October 1st will correspond nicely with school enrollment October 15th.

Multipurpose Building

July 15 -21:

A group of 10 volunteers helped get the multi-purpose building ready for a facelift. It's been 15 years since painting. We cleaned the building and landscaped in front of the building. The Scouts in Guiberoua have a great interest in planting trees, plants and flowers in town. The women of ONEF came out to help. The red soil baked to a solid clay, so the effort was great. I bought 6 types of plants and hope they will grow soon since it's the rainy season.

July 22 -28:

We started repairs to the building such as the roof, electricity, and masonry. I expected construction progress would be much slower than I am used to in the States. That's not the case for this project. All the trades started immediately. Money might have something to do with it. We repaired the roof, patched the masonry, installed new electrical outlets and bought the paint. I bought the Television and VCR in Abidjan. The Mayor had donated computers repaired and programed, so we hope to start the computer center a bit early. We started classifying the 30 boxes of donated books from France this week. The library will use a simplified version of the Dewy Decimal System. Next week we will hunt for African books in the Abidjan market and start painting.

Moussa the Guinean Carpenter

August 1 -18:

The first two weeks of August we continued to make repairs and paint the exterior. The paint color was a challenge. Paint does not come premixed, so to mix the same color for every can of paint takes precision. Because the wind blows the red soil against the building, we had to choose a standard color that is close to the color of the red soil. It's really not pink. We need to plant bushes in front of the verandah to keep the children from taking the short route.

August 20 -31:

The painter put the finishing touches on the building. He is very meticulous so we get along great. He is called Créato (as in Creator). He made a sign for the entrance. He has many styles of letters and won't use stencils. He says it renders him lazy. Believe it or not he never went to school and can't read. I have many interesting friends that can't read or write. It is so sad to see so much potential in someone that never had a chance. Créato, for me is like hanging out with another architecture friend. He can't wait for the library to open. He wants to learn how to read. He says he wants to skip French and learn to to read English first. That's a challenge.

September 3 -10:

We decided to start the computer center since the computers were ready. The computers were donated from ZOZONE, a group of Bété that now live in France. Classes started September 3rd and run for a month. Classes are 5 US dollars for students and 10 US dollars for adults. We have 18 students for September and word is spreading. The more computers we have the more we can lower the price for classes. I am writing a proposal right now for America Online to sponsor 2 new computers, scanner, printer, and two years of internet. Classes will continue each month and we will always be hunting for more computers.

Computer classes

September 13 - 23:

Moussa the carpenter is heading the effort to build bookcases, chairs and tables. He works very hard and he alone supports an extended family of 20. Moussa's work was interrupted two weeks ago. I went to his house to pay him a visit because I heard his wife was sick. When someone is sick it is very important to pay them a visit. Moussa's wife of 25 years old was lying in bed. She had a temperature of 105 degrees earlier in the day. Moussa was distressed. His wife's older sister did not like that the doctor put an I.V. in her arm so she took it out. They are an ethnic group that are not very accustomed to modern medicine. I told him I will not leave until he convinces his sister-in-law to get her to the hospital now. He talked over and over for an hour. Moussa had really now power over the extended family. The idea of leaving a needle in her sisters arm was bizarre for the family. Moussa translated into Dioula something for me as a last chance to convince the family to get her to the hospital. I explained that just two months ago, I had an I.V. in my arm for two weeks in Abidjan and I would have died without it. Finally at midnight, we convinced the family and got a truck to get her to the hospital. The next morning, I went to the house to find out how things are going. I entered the courtyard to find a large group of Muslim women in prayer, then the men around the corner in prayer. She died in the night. I wanted to talk directly to Moussa but is their custom to talk to the elders to present your condolences and then they present the message to the rest of the family. The family was in morning for seven days. Moussa came to see me during his time of morning. He was very thankful for everything especially for paying a visit the next morning. They had never seen a white person pay them a visit to give their condolences. He said the Muslim community still talks about it. I don't really know what went on in West Africa during colonization but the African's have such low expectations for white people. Their only measuring stick is the treatment of the French during colonization and the treatment of the current Lebanese and French factory owners that treat the workers like slaves. My project schedule is very different here from Architecture projects in the US. Believe it or not, as bizarre as events can be when executing a project here, I find it so much more interesting that doing a high profile project for a wealthy corporation. I actually enjoy my work more here than in the States. Really, the only problem is that I miss the money, the good food, red wine, riding in a car with less than 10 people in it. Being poor was interesting for a while but I have to admit I can't wait to have money again.

Moussa A building the bookcases

As the Moussa team builds the bookcases, I will continue to bring back books from Abidjan. We have the equivalent of $2000 to buy books. I am hunting for African books second-hand in the market. In a few weeks we will be painting a world map on the interior wall of the library.

Books to organize

September 23 - November 17:

Progress has been made building the furniture. The television and video was installed last week. We have a few piece of furniture to make such as the librarian's desk and the children's table. We are making a list ofthe names of great African authors to stencil as a border in the main room. We have a great task ahead of us to buy books. The library committee convened last week and are making lists of books to purchase. I held discussions with the Mayor last week to work quickly to find a librarian. We can at least find a temporary librarian before the library opens. The next update should show the final pictures of the library in full operation with finishing touches.


The Library is fully operational now. We have a librarian and the hours of operation are 3pm -8pm Tuesday through Saturday. We are making final desisions on how to spend the money that is left over. In the meantime, the students of Guiberoua held elections for the Guiberoua English club to take advantage of the television, VCR, language cassettes and English software. Cnet and Gensler have together made it possible to have three additional computers and laser printer. We look forward to their arrival. Your effort is appreciated and will be celebrated at our inauguration with the Minister of Culture. We have some final things to do before then and I will take pictures of the entire library when it is finished. Next week we will be painting the names of 24 great African authors around the perimeter of the room.

The local students organized the Guiberoua English Club

Though we have not officially informed the population of the opening of the library word has spread quickly. By 5pm we are obligated to ask people to wait outside. The mayor has made it a priority to build two new buildings for the womens learning center and radio station. The library has truely inspired a vision for the community. The mayor will be visiting the library next week to talk about expanding the computer center. In April, we hope to also receive a $8000 donation from America Online to purchase two new computers, scanner, and two years of internet access.


5 pm

I would like to thank everyone for their contributions to the library and computer center. I will take final pictures of the project and you will be officially thanked at the inauguration. I am making a special effort to video the event for Gensler San Fransisco whom has made an extraordinary effort to realize this project. Ayo ka ka kaaaa! (thank you very much!)

Final Photos

The library and computer center has been very successful. We have over 60 visiters everyday and by 5pm there is no space. The computer center has 24 students per month and we hope to expand to 6 computers when the Cnet donation arrives next month. The mayor's office would like to expand soon. I think they were a bit suprised by the interest. An interesting observation is that the library is attracting quite a few young girls because it is a refuge for them to study without distractions from housework. This project has motivated the Mayor's office to create a small campus of social activities around the multipurpose building. We are currently creating a plan which will include a womens center, radio station , business center and soccer field. We are currently writing thank you notes to everyone who contributed to the project . I hope we capture the impact those who have contributed to this project have made on Guiberoua. I am thanked (and blessed) on the steets everyday by parents and young students who are used to studying under streetlamps.

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