An introduction to “Kabile”

It all started because I wanted to go to Mongolia.

I wanted to visit the herding and hunting families who do falconry with Golden Eagles.

I had no resources for making a trip like that. But one day, I had an idea: what if I could join Peace Corps—maybe they would send me to Mongolia!

It took almost no time for me to establish that Peace Corps did send volunteers to Mongolia, but they were only taking people with experience teaching English as a second language. At the time, there was also a Peace Corps policy that you couldn’t pick your country of service. So there was no chance of Peace Corps sending me to Mongolia.

Still, the idea intrigued me. I was working part-time for a small company and part-time for the goat ranch where I lived. Neither situation seemed sustainable for the long-term. I decided to apply. I wasn’t the typical volunteer; I was 47-years old, mid-career (if you could call it that), and had never had much chance to travel. I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I was content to let someone else decide that, so Peace Corps seemed like a pretty good deal.

Almost a year later, I was on a plane to Ghana, West Africa. On November 5, 2011, I visited the small town that was to be my home for the next two years: Kabile. On December 15, I was sworn in as an agriculture volunteer and then moved to my site to begin working with the cashew farming families there.

This publication is a collection of the stories of my time with the people of Kabile.

The 10 weeks of training Peace Corps gave us, before moving to our sites, was good preparation (even though we bitched about it incessantly…it was intense, to say the least). One thing I still remember was a session just before we were sworn in, where one of the trainers told us this: “Every volunteer thinks they are leaving something behind. Sometimes that’s why people join Peace Corps—to leave a part of themselves behind and start over. But rest assured: whatever part of yourself you think you left behind—you will find it here.”

I knew, even when she said it, that she was right.

Francis. Who you’ll meet in these stories.

Continue to the first installment: Site Visit