Volunteer Review: Brayden S., Teach English and Other Subjects in Togo
My five month stay in Togo could never be summarized in one word, but if it had to be done it would be ‘magical’. The beautiful rolling mountains and dense forests of this tiny West African nation are only surpassed by their gentle and outgoing inhabitants. Togo and the Togolese stole my heart the second I stepped off the airplane.
Arriving in Togo
My first day in Togo was very busy. Not speaking a word of French, the second I landed in Togo the huge differences from my small town world in Canada were starting to become more and more real.
I was picked up at the airport by one of the lovely Projects Abroad team members, Delphine, and we proceeded to my host family’s house. I'll never forget the car ride there, looking out the window and taking in my first views of Africa; the loud and frantic bustle of daily life in the streets of Lome, the different smells in the air and the music that was seemingly around every corner you turned. It was all so new, so perceptually overwhelming and a tad nerve-wracking. Little did I know this was going to become the daily life that I'd want to live for the rest of my days!
Teaching in Togo
My average day began around 6:20am when I would get ready for school. I'd shower (from a bucket of course!), get dressed, pack my bag and walk to my school. On the walk there I'd hear "Mr Brayden! Mr Brayden!" as a handful of students would run up and walk me the rest of the way there. We'd arrive just in time to sing the national anthem and then it was off to class.
I was partnered with a local teacher, named Mr Dake. He was a great man as well as a great teacher and together we taught various classes and ages and each class had its own personality and traits. You'd learn quickly that one size does in fact not fit all and there's a different way to handle each one!
The Togolese children are some of the most imaginative, enthusiastic and competitive children that I've ever had the privilege to meet, and it was nothing short of a pleasure to work with them every day. It's cliché but so true when I tell you that they taught me much more than I ever taught them.
I'd go home around noon and eat my lunch. Meals were usually rice with chicken, fufu (my favorite), pate, or salad. Maman always knew how to make the best meals!
During the afternoons the kids and I would walk back to the orphanage and they'd take their baths while I helped the Tata ('sister' in Ewe!) with whatever chores she needed assistance with. When the kids were ready, we'd do their homework together and get it ready for the next day. If we finished in time we would play some games in the yard, do arts and crafts, play cards, or for a special treat, curl up and watch a movie.
Volunteering in Togo
The children were most definitely the highlight of my trip and being Tonton the most rewarding part. To be a significant part of these young people’s lives not only for care but for emotional support is an experience that I can't bring to words. The smiles on their faces remind you that your hard work is well appreciated every time they shine!
I can’t match the kindness of the Togolese people. I recall an instance my first week there, I stepped in deep mud in the roads and was walking back to the bureau covered to my shins! A kind lady invited me into her home, cleaned my feet and shoes for me, before sending me on my way. Selfless acts just like that one were commonplace in everyday life in Togo, and I could never be more thankful for everything the people did for me during my time there!
Now that it has come to an end, Togo is still on my mind every day. I count down the seconds until I'm able to return to Africa - to be able to walk under the palms, close my eyes, feel the sun kiss my face and breathe in the air just one more time. If you're looking for the opportunity of a lifetime, memories and friends that will last you just as long, look no further; because Togo is the only destination that should be on your list.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.