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Stagiares in the Rural Community Development group, of which I was one, were lucky enough to spend several weeks in Kuma Adamé for the second phase of our training. Adamé is a tiny village high in the mountains above Kpalimé, the nearest large town. Conditions are ideal here for coffee growing, an important cash crop in this area. I was excited about coming here, as the little I had been able to find out about this area described the Kpalimé coffee growing region as the most beautiful area in Togo. And it was true.

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In the photo above, coffee beans are drying on an elevated platform as a woman and child regard me with interest. They probably heard that the village would be hosting a group of Peace Corps Volunteers days before we arrived. Word gets around fast in a village of only a few hundred people.

In the background of the above photo are two buildings. They may look like barns or sheds, but they are in fact homes. These are not people who can afford anything but basics.

scan0011a-small.jpgI loved this village from the first time I saw it. It for me was a very magical place. The villagers were delighted to have us there and were very friendly.

The family I stayed with was very nice. Akuto [left], was 22 years old and the oldest girl in the family. She was tremendously shy and it was difficult to get her to to talk to me much.

Thank goodness some of the neighbors were not as shy. They came to visit me a lot while I stayed there, and we often sat late into the night talking and laughing. I brought my portable tape player out one night and started dancing. They were delighted and soon we had quite a crowd. That was a fun evening.

I made many friends in Adame. I went to a funeral and danced in a line with everyone, and they were very happy to have me participate.

johnny.jpgJohnny Walker [right], a Nigerian tailor, I met after being in Adame two days. I had him make me some African clothes for a village dance. After I saw the quality of his work, I had him make most of my clothes for as long as I was in Togo.

I visited Johnny often in his workshop after my daily Peace Corps training sessions were over. Whenever I was there, it was not long until giggling, excited, happy children crowded around me until there was no room to move. In such a remote village, they rarely had a chance to see anyone new. Having visitors around was a big event for them.

One young boy about five years old had an amazing ability to mimic and could repeat anything that I said in English, although he of course didn’t understand a word of what he was saying. I had no end of fun saying short sentences for him to repeat, which he parroted back to me perfectly with a huge grin. He told Johnny that he loved me because “I didn’t mind if the children bothered me.”

I had such a wonderful time there that after training was over, I went back and spent several days there at Christmas time at the invitation of one of the Adamé villagers before I reported to my village.

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Akuto’s brothers and sisters.

While we were there, we brought interest and excitement to the village. They treated us like movie stars. Some of the villagers grew fond of us very quickly. The day the stagiares left to go to the final phase of training, the whole village mourned.

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Saying goodbye to friends on our final day in Adamé.

Kuma Adamé and everyone who lives there will always have a special place in my heart.

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