Pigs, Pork, Pints!

June 2, 2018

The Hops Company in Derby, CT

Assi le Assime: The Togo Development Partnership works to end poverty and disease in Togo, West Africa where we run a 4 hectare teaching farm.

Our 2018 project is to teach farmers proper pig farming that is safe, nutritious, disease-free, and humane.

We’re kicking off the project with our fundraiser “Pigs, Pork, Pints!” on June 2, 2018 from 6- 10 p.m.at the The Hops Company in Derby, CT.

With over 300 folks enjoying a pulled pork BBQ with all the sides and drinks, and dance the night away with live music from Pimpinella ! We’ll even have a contest to choose your favorite BBQ!

And…. if we meet our fundraising goal…. I’ll kiss a pig!!

Tickets are $40 before May 15, and $50 thereafter.

Purchase tickets at www.assileassime.org.

Help us bring better quality, more nutritious and safer meat to families in Togo, West Africa.

Purchase tickets to the Pigs Pork and Pint Event:

Click Here

Just dig deeper

How can we possibly turn this wild tract of land into a farm? I doubt anyone’s even walked through it for 100 years. Its’ covered with wild grasses firmly rooted in the soil. There’s not even a footpath through it.

Where are we going to get water to run the farm? Especially in the middle of the dry season? Sure, there’s a little stream nearby, but it’s barely flowing in the dry season.

How are we going to make bricks to build the foundation for the new chicken coop if we don’t have water? We’ve got lots of sand and cement, but no water….. it’s the dry season.

How will these little seedlings– all crowded together in barely enough soil to take root—grow to mature plants in this blistering heat? (In fact, it was so hot today, that we didn’t even start working until 3 in the afternoon!) How are they going to make it?

As we waited for the afternoon breeze to kick in, I prayed. How would we do it? How would we set up this farm so we might teach others in Togo sustainable agriculture?

The answer: We just had to dig deeper.

We had to dig deeper into the soil, past the grassland roots, past the thick layer of leaves and organic matter, to overturn the thick, rich fertile soil.

We had to dig deeper — 150 meters deeper— to find enough water for a well that would nourish our farm in every season.

We had to dig deeper into the sand to release the water it held to make the bricks.

We had to dig deeper into the soil to replant our seedlings to let them grow into full sized plants.

And we had to dig deeper into our faith to believe that our needs on the farm have already been met by God’s gifts of land, water and sunshine.

Why? Why Togo? Why now? Why me?

In the 5th grade, my niece Claire Zielinski presented this composition, and won that year’s Oratorical Competition, St. Lawrence School, Shelton, CT

How would you feel if you had no medicine for the chicken pox or the flu? That is how kids in Africa feel. My Aunt Lizz saved some of those people’s lives. People like us! Kids, adults and even babies. People in Africa are suffering from many kinds of diseases. My Aunt, Elizabeth Simonetti, travelled to Africa to help people like that.

My Aunt Lizz has always wanted to help people. When she lived in Georgia, she taught Sunday school to four yearolds at her church. She also worked in a soup kitchen near her home in West Orange, New Jersey. But she wanted to do more. So she decided to go to Africa.

She works for company in New Jersey called. Hoffmann-La Roche. It is a Swiss company that makes drugs. They gave her a year off with pay to do this volunteer work. This is called a sabbatical.

Before she could go to Africa, she had to go through training for two months in Rome. She worked with the Canossian sisters and other people that were traveling to Africa.

After the training, she flew to Togo. Togo is a small nation on the west coast of Africa. It is a land of rain forests and plains. Togo is very poor. The average person makes only $900 per year. The people don’t have running water so they get water from a well. The well water is dirty so it makes them sick. The common diseases of Togo are tuberculosis, cholera, malaria, hepatitis, yellow fever and parasites. My Aunt Lizz wanted to help treat those diseases.

The diseases are so bad that even healthy people can get sick. When my Aunt first got to Togo, she got very sick. She spent a week in the hospital before she felt good enough to go to work. When she felt better, she began to organize the pharmacy and helped the doctors treat the patients. She helped teach boys and girls and their mothers how to use medicines properly. She taught them how to take them, when to take them, and why they were taking them.

People in Togo believe in Voodoo, which means they think if they give something to the gods, the gods will make them better. Voodoo does not work. The people who believed in it, spent so much time praying to their god that when they did go to the doctor, they were too sick to cure. The doctors try to save them, but sometimes it is too late.

One of my Aunt Lizz’s special memories was of a 15 year old boy she met. She took him to the library every day. The boy had never been to a library before. She got him a library card and let him take out books. I think she touched that boy’s life because it opened up a whole new world to the boy.

Aunt Lizz touched my life because she is an inspiration to me. When I think of the name “Elizabeth Simonetti,” I don’t just think of a woman or an aunt; I think of a hero. I want to be just like her when I grow up!

What’s for dinner?

Kodjo and his brother lived across the unpaved road from me. He said he was 15 years old, and he no longer went to school because he and his brother worked as carpenters to support themselves. When I asked him if he missed learning, he just shrugged and smiled. I saw him almost every day, on my way to and from work.

When we needed shelving units, we asked the brothers to build them—they delivered the shelving units in a couple of days, and we paid the brothers when they were delivered. It was a “win-win” exchange.

One Thursday night after dinner, we were talking and joking around. I told him how I cooked for the volunteers every Wednesday night, and how we shared the chores around the house. I asked him who was cooking at his house that night. “Are you cooking, or it is your brother’s turn to cook?” He laughed and shook his head. I commented that “I know how hard it is to work all day and come home to make dinner. So, is it your turn tonight? What are you making?” Again, he laughed and agreed that it was hard to work and cook.

All of a sudden (maybe it was the Spirit that came through his silly laugh to help me understand) I realized that no one at his house was cooking that night, because there was nothing in the house to eat. Neither he nor his brother would have dinner that night.

As I thought about Kodjo and his brother, I wondered how many others in Togo were asking themselves that night “What’s for dinner?”

Have you ever had the “feeling” that someone you know is wondering “What’s for dinner?” We can answer that question by teaching sustainable farming and animal husbandry practices to local farmers that that we might help feed the poorest of the poor. We hope that you’ll join us.