Bonjour from Lomé!

10 06 2010

Hi everyone! My first ten days in Lomé have been filled with new and eye-opening sights, sounds, and interactions.  Life in a low-income country like Togo offers both challenges and opportunities for greater understanding.  The people here in Lomé are kind, curious, and generous.  I have been greeted with countless “bonne arrivées” (welcomes).

In the past week I have moved into my host family’s house and begun work at my fieldwork site.  Already there has been a change to my plans- due to logistical concerns, I will be working at a different clinic this summer than I had originally expected.  Rather than Aides Médicales et Charitie, I will be volunteering at Centre Medico-Sociale (CMS).  While unexpected, I believe this will in the end be a positive change.  According to my faculty mentor, CMS has a more “bustling” environment and serves a great number of patients every day. With this placement, I should have the opportunity to interact with many Togolese citizens and patients.

I began my fieldwork in the clinic this past Monday.  For this first week, I am in the laboratoire, the lab.  In the following weeks I will rotate and spend time in both the AIDS and maternity units.  Following the rotation, I will select one area to work in the the remainder of the summer.

My fieldwork and homestay have already made me appreciate that I am not just an observer, but a participant in the community and culture of Lomé.  My presence and work are noteable and potentially influential.  Simple actions such as learning a few phrases of Ewe, the the native tribal language of southern Togo, have already eased my entry into the community.   I must learn and respect certain protocols and traditions.  I believe that doing so will yield beneficial applications and repercussions to my fieldwork.

– Erin Boland

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