After the two-week introduction to life in the Peace Corps in Lomé and a weekend upcountry with a Volunteer, the stagiares regrouped at the Peace Corps training camp at Pagala. Pagala is situated about halfway between Togo’s northern and southern borders, some 20 miles west of the main north-south highway. It was about a four-hour drive from Lomé.

stagiare getting water from barrel in front of dortoire

At Pagala we were housed in dortoires, a dozen or so buildings each with four spartan sleeping rooms and a toilet with a shower stall. There was no running water, so camp workers brought water daily to each building and stored it in two barrels. We drew buckets as needed for bathing and flushing the toilets.

We were lulled to sleep at night by the chirping of millions of crickets, the croaking of hundreds of frogs, the echolocation of thousands of bats and the whining of the occasional mosquito which managed to find its way inside our mosquito nets.


Our classrooms were screened huts with straw roofs. We learned the basics of rural community development, working in groups and local languages.

Occasionally we were sent to the village on field trips. Among the most fun were going to the local marché so that we could get used to bargaining. I imagine the local vendors just loved to see us coming.

Another fun field trip involved mapping the village. We split up into four groups, each of which was responsible for mapping one quarter of the village (NE, NW, SE and SW) and walked everywhere, drawing in roads, major buildings and landmarks. Wherever we went, we were followed by curious children who loved getting their pictures taken.

At night the stagiares often went on field trips of their own design, usually involving Bière de Benin, found in abundance at any of the several local buvettes (bars).

When our time at Pagala was finished, we were sent for a few more weeks of specialized training at Kuma Adamé.