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WEEK 1 News From Togo Front 11.29.10-12.5.10

Enyo: Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, nothing has changed here in Togo. The majority of the people are still living below the poverty level and it shows very visibly in the mannerisms and behavior of the people.  Now, of course, the children are still pretty happy despite their circumstance.  Most of the younger generation is pretty degenerate and miserable, and the elders look as if they have lost hope.  Walking in the streets is a bit sad because the general mood of the people is very, very somber.  Nevertheless, I remind myself that I did not come here to pity or wallow in sadness about the state of the people.

Actions completed to date:

1. Established communication,  restored my cell, and got my visa.

2. Secured a vehicle for transportation.

3. Traveled to Atakpame, to Madjamakou and Koussougba.

4. Met with Mr. Ohonou and the Chief and Chief’s council of Koussougba, and the School Director in Madjamakou.

5. Delivered the Education Project Letter.  The teachers were very happy and they will all write a response to Francoise!!! She should be getting 4-5 letters soon!

6. Met with Mr. Ohonou to plan the logistics of the workshop. We discussed the workshop timeline and program outline, lodging for 6 trainees and one workshop trainer including myself.  Discussed: cost of food, transportation for the different parts of the workshop, because two days of the workshops will be conducted in their respective villages, and Celebration and Certification and Graduation Day (Saturday).

7. Came back to Togo and worked on Voss Foundation Grant.

8. Met with WASH Trainer and secured her for the training.

A very exciting discovery that I am simply elated to share is that the villagers have found a solution for repairing their own water pump that they innovated right there in their own villages!  Most unbelievable!  The innovation and their improvements to the water system design has saved them 5 reparations this year alone! I am so proud of their innovation!

Our project is unfolding very well.

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Enyo to conduct training workshop in Water, Sanitation & Hygiene techniques

So, as a member of the BCB team, I have to just relate to all our readers how proud I am that Enyo’s vision and passion to help those less fortunate is coming to fruition. With funding from a recent grant she is traveling to Togo soon to teach 6 elected village women in WASH (water sanitation & hygiene) techniques which she learned at the Global Women’s Water Initiative 2010 conference in Ghana some months ago. For phase 2 of this water project, we will be following up with the building of a solar-powered well in Koussougba, but the training and work shop is the critical part whereby Enyo will not only be teaching sanitation techniques but empowering village women and instilling accountability, purpose and ownership in all projects going forward. She is a true visionary and will be undertaking a huge task for which she will need much support. Please follow her progress. She will be keeping us updated with pictures and videos and her blog posts on the website. Your support, now more than ever, is needed in the way of blog comments, Facebook messages, and if possible donations. But especially during the holiday time, it’s nice to be aware that good things are happening and one by one, bridges are being built. Congratulations Enyo. You are a true visionary and your work is always appreciated.

The Journey of BCB! Part ONE The BEGINNING!!!

For quite some time, Building Community Bridges, Inc has been striving to establish the capacity to accomplish its mission. It has taken us some time, yes. Our approach is different from other organizations in that we sought first to establish our foundational process, so that once we started to receive funds, we could initiate our projects in full force….more to come

How Can We Make the World Worthy?

What should we teach our children? You are a marvel! You are unique! There has never been another child like you. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. When you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? We must all work to make the world worthy of its children. So said Pablo Picasso.

Help BCB make the world in Togo worthy of its children! Join us!

Burn Out and the Lesson of Balance

Pfew!!!

I am feeling the semblances of burn out!  The economic situation in the US is not making it at all easy for an up and coming nonprofit organization to ride the waves.  Years ago, I remember meeting people who worked in the nonprofit sector and it seemed like such a  novel domain and the absolute path of my life!  Oh it still is, i don’t think that will chance anytime soon.  But, I  am now realizing that every generation on this earth will round us “people” up to continue to defend this world “as it should be.”    I am grateful though that the twin emotion of this period for me is BALANCE.  It seems so long that I have even contemplated doing what I love. For example I used to spent hours on a pottery wheel, in total heaven, utter heaven, creating pottery pieces….  At least now I actually think about it and it seems to lift the heaviness of my work right away.  Fighting for and being in the midst of the nonprofit sector forces you to see the inequities of this world all the time and it DOES weigh on your spirit.  I am recognizing that it is a struggle to  feel the lightness of the wind, the feather element of the air…the joy of birds singing.  I am seeking balance.  Now i understand the executive director that i worked for over 10 years ago…who was burned out and took a very long time for her  to accept it!  Share you thoughts.  Would love to hear what everyone thinks.

Gratitude

I am so grateful for my team! I am humbled by the love that they exhibit in working tirelessly on BCB. Everyone has their unique talents and contribution without which the team would not be the same. Our team is diverse, from different yet similar backgrounds. I am grateful for Priscilla Dyer who has most recently joined us and is giving so much energy to our team and BCB. She brings much experience and expertise which will help us build our capacity. She has created our blog space here, which allows us to connect.

Here’s to BCB’s awesome team! Wow! Thank you all!

– enyonam nanevie

A Founder’s Story: Promises to Keep

My story begins in the West African city of Lome, Togo, which lies close to the Ghana border.  As a child, until I was nine years old, I spent my school vacations in my parents’ villages in Atteteti, Ghana. Although it was so long ago, my experience of village life has left deep imprints on me.  I still have vivid memories of friends walking hours to come visit, and of walking miles to get water and carrying it back on our heads.  Although I experienced intense feelings of longing due to the isolation of village life, at times, I love the peace that was the natural life.

Growing up as the daughter of a diplomat afforded me the privilege of going to exclusive private schools, and traveling and living all over the world, which transformed my life. By the time I was about 15, I began to see the inequities.  While I was living a comfortable life, it disturbed me deeply that others had to live in such degrees of poverty – the kind of poverty that renders the human being “inhuman” to others.

The educational and cultural opportunities that were provided to me throughout this time, gave me first-hand proof that indeed the world is one, and the understanding that food, water, shelter, respect and a fighting chance in life are all things that should be basic human rights for all. My realization and recognition of people as people and the world as one removed mental barriers created by geographical borders and cultural conditioning and instead, gave me a foundation to understand that connections can be created across the world, that geographical borders and cultural rules and tradition need not keep us separated. I stopped seeing myself as a woman from a small tribe in Togo.  I began to see myself as a citizen of the world.  This is where the concept of human bridges was germinated, and grew over the years to become the moving philosophy behind Building Community Bridges, Inc. (BCB).

My life has always been one of duality.  I have been both a villager and a city dweller, poor and rich, a welcomed member of a tribe and also a foreigner. As a result of the wide range of experiences in my life, all perceptions and stereotypes dictated by society and our environment no longer sway me to their singular interpretations. All that I have experienced contributes to my realization and understanding of the duality that must be our future.

As an African woman who has experienced many of the realities these villages currently face, I have realized over time that it is my destiny to not only build bridges through BCB, but also to return to my people, my community, and my own village.  I am compelled to share the importance I now place in hope, having a sense of imagination, and the unique will of the human spirit to overcome adversity! In particular, my dream is that we as a people shall rise and, through persistence, cooperation and caring, build a new society.  I believe that each person – each soul – can awaken to take action and improve his or her community.

When I left the village and all I knew, I promised the villagers, my friends, my family, and my community that I would one day return. BCB is the sum of my life and a dream that has grown to be the dream of those on my team as well. The day that I return, along with BCB, with resources for clean water, sturdy schools and adequate health clinics in tow will be one to rejoice, not only for me, but for those who dream of a better life as well.

– enyonam nanevie