On March 21st, six big white SUVs rolled into our little village in the middle of nowhere, Benin, to visit the Atacora Fair Partnership™ Co-op at our micro-factory. Peace Corps has had a constant presence in the area since the mid 80’s, so visits from supervisors and Directors is nothing new, but this delegation was super high-powered! I was a Volunteer myself there in the early 90s, and since Atacora’s inception in 2010, we have had a series of Volunteers assigned to our project, Dave Emnett being there at present.
Out of the SUVs rolled Bob Friedman, Peace Corps Director for Benin, his Associate Program Director Tiburce, U.S. Ambassador to Benin, Mike Raynor, Acting Director of Peace Corps Global Carrie Hessler-Radelet (Presidential appointee), Director of Peace Corps Africa, Dick Day, an Embassy Security team and other notables. Needless to say, we were pretty honored and flattered by the visit.
Jacob, Atacora Benin’s Executive Director is a skilled politician, indeed, and had the Co-op ladies put together a great traditional song and dance routine to welcome our guests! We are in full Baobab production now, and everyone got to see how we make it.
Jacob took the floor and explained that he had grown up with Peace Corps Volunteers, and they had taught him many skills and instilled in him a diligent work ethic. He said he feels indebted, because it has really helped him in his career and in his personal life (I’ll humbly take a little credit, there).
The Global Director really wants him to get that on film for the Peace Corps website! Now, that would be some great promotion for Atacora! As a result of this meeting, we now have a number of advocates who want to help us promote the business, get grants and navigate the bureaucracy. We are very proud of all that we have done, and are delighted with the acknowledgement we received that day.