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Pink partners with community radios to get the word out about breast cancer

This past weekend, PINK BENIN went up north to Parakou. We’ve been struggling to get out of Cotonou, and more importantly, get the message out to more women in order to a) start tracking breast cancer cases throughout the country and b) create a force strong enough to pressure the Beninese government into making cancer treatments more accessible to the rural pour. We’re running the pilot with Peace Corps because...

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I like snails. Eating them, that is.

Allada is famous for its escargot (snails). Every well to do traveler stops there on their way up North. Only an hour outside of Cotonou, it’s an ideal place to buy food for the rest of the trip. Or, if you’re Jean Marc, Helene, Bertrand, and myself, an ideal place to waste an hour drinking beer while eating delicoius snails, snail eggs, and fried cheese.

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Cutting the cheese in Benin

Ah, cheese. The one thing every expat in West Africa misses. Luckily, Benin has a local cheese that’s excellent, both as a cheese, fried, and as a tofu subsitute. Known commonly as wagasi, from Dendi, it goes by many names: amo in Fon, wara in Nagot, and gasaru in Bariba. The French simply call it fromage (cheese).

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Zucchini Pancakes

Yesterday’s CSA came with a couple kilos of zucchinis. I hadn’t even finished last week’s batch, and started panicking about how I was going to use up all these zucchinis. Yes, it’s true, my CSA has become a source of stress in my life as I struggle to use up all of the vegetables each week. For example, I currently have five (!) eggplants sitting in my fridge. Also, over...

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On how to rock eating food you’re afraid of

We’ve had a lot of visitors lately, new to Benin and/or to Africa, who are afraid of food poisoning. I’m going to be really honest here: if you leave Cotonou, have any middle class Beninese friends, eat street food, or do anything but eat at ritzy expat restaurants and prepare your own (vegetarian) food, you’re gonna get food poisoning eventually. Fish goes bad. Chicken sits out. Beef sits in the...

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On working for The Man and other minutia

After a long weeks of not having enough time to breathe, much less sleep, Bertrand and I are more or less settling back into routine. In the intervening weeks, things have changed a bit in the Carpenter-Sondjo household: We have a freezer. We have a cat. I own a pair of sneakers. The rainy season has started. I kind of like working for The Man. So big changes. Especially the...

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On being absent because I have an awesome job

I am in fact, still alive and kicking, all evidence to the contrary. The first week at a new job is always difficult—lots of new people to meet, lots of information to digest, and of course, lots of work to do. Despite the fact that my job is ostensibly part time, I get home exhausted, and instead of working on People Online, Pink Benin, Ushahidi translations (sorry, Linda!), and the...

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PINK goes to Zagnanado for breast cancer screening

PINK BENIN is a big fan of International Women’s Day. Breast cancer is a marginalized illness in Benin, like many places in the world, because it’s something that primarily affects women. So it’s nice to do work on a day where we don’t have to defend ourselves for primarily working with women (What? We don’t treat prostate cancer? Isn’t that sexist? NO IT IS NOT). This year, Ivy, a Peace...

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Browser statistics and Commentary for Benin (or, IE6 isn’t going anywhere fast, so we might as well stop complaining and get back to work)

People Online still guarantees IE6 compatibility for almost 100% of the sites we develop. We don’t even charge extra for it! And this is why: We’ve spent an awful lot of time in cybercafés in West Africa, and an awful lot of these cybercafés are still running Windows XP (or Windows 2000! Or Windows 98!) and IE6. Anecdotal evidence aside, the default install for Windows XP is IE6, and most...

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I’m in love with the idea that the second coming could be a 17-year-old African woman

Six months ago, rumors began circulating about an orphan who could heal, raise the dead, and perform exorcisms. And what better place for a second coming than a region plagued by sorcery, witches, and the devil himself? Thousands of pilgrims came to weekly masses in a tiny village with no water and no electricity, in the heart of the land where Voodoo was born. The young woman spoke of terrible...