Sunday, November 11, 2007


Today, Benedict met me at Manhattan Suites for a little breakfast before we went on to visit the Children's Hope offices and then the University in Cocody.
The guys really want me to see every part of Abidjan; the good and the bad. I was really grateful for this because If they weren't there, I probably wouldn't have been able to see half of what I did and I really got to know the city and fell in love with it.

The offices of Children's Hope are located in a converted house in a beautiful part of Coody and I was surprised at how beautiful and professional they were. These guys all met at the university and decided to go into business together so they formed a consulting company called TMBC (Training,Management,Business,Consulting) which is how they generate income to support Children's hope. It's modeled after every major corporation in Abidjan which are required by the government to have a philanthropic subdivision. Within Children's Hope, there are men with communications and business degrees as well as engineers and doctors. They've brought together some strong and driven people and have big plans, the most ambitious of which is to build a hospital in Abidjan with the modern technology and capabilities of an American hospital so that people don't have to travel all the way to the US for basic care. The plan for this hospital is amazing and I hope to stay involved with the these guys long enough to see it become a reality.
From the offices, we left to go tour the university. Every person in Cote D'Ivoire is required by the government to attend one of the universities in the country so, student life is a huge part of the culture. There are both private and public universities. We went to the one in Cocody where all the guys went. It was an amazing place with great facilities and resembled a typical American university with, of course, some West African flare. Because everyone goes to university, it is a tremendously important part of the culture and it really feels like the students have made it their own and created a home there. There are open markets everywhere within the campus just like in the surrounding town and there's alot of studying and fun to be had.
The most interesting thing that I discovered here was that because everyone is required to attend a university, students are the largest organized body of citizenry in the country and are also completely autonomous and independent from the government. They are, in fact, there own political group and as it is such a large group, the students wield alot of power in the country. There are democratically elected student governments which control the student body and can declare strikes and actually organize a national revolution! I was astonished. Imagine that in the US! The current Ivorian president came to power as a result of being a former student body president, and the biggest revolutionary leader in Cote D'Ivoire(Their Che Gueverra) began his revolution as a student president mobilizing the students. As we toured the university we had to check in with the student governments in each area of the campus which was usually a bunch of twenty-something guys hanging out in the quad looking very intimidating. They, however, welcomed me everywhere.
In the evening, the guys took me to an area of Abidjan called Yopougong which is a very overpopulated and somewhat poor area but is also considered to be the "hip" and affordable place for young people so it's a fun place. This is also where Trabi is from and his wife just had a baby so we got to visit with his newly expanded family. In Cote D'Ivoire, when a woman gives birth, it's tradition that her mother moves in with the family to help take care of the household and baby so I also got to meet his mother-in-law.
After spending some time with Trabi's family, we went out on the town and ate some great food, heard great music and met some wonderful people.


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