Monday, February 17, 2014

Shared Spaces

This weekend, after a few days of VAC and various other meetings the Cotonou Workstation Committee hosted a “Deep Clean” – basically the place needed to be cleaned – and it isn't really any one's job to do it – so as you can imagine in a room used by about 100 volunteers annually (if not more) the place was a little grimy.

The workstations consists of the kitchen, the library/dining room, two large sleeping spaces with bunks, a small study room (read: closet), an upstairs lounge and workspace, and the bathroom/shower area. It took 12 of us many hours to clean, and the place is probably the cleanest it has been since the office moved to the current building. Sorry to any PCVs from the past, but some of the things that we came across (ie lost and found from before 2012) would lead all of us to believe that this is probably the case.

While we all love our workspace in Cotonou, the problem with shared spaces is this: When no one is “truly” responsible, and no one is there all the time, everyone assumes someone else is going to clean up... and no one ever knows how long that pile of books/clothes/oranges has really been sitting there. We have the workstation committee (me and 3 other volunteers) who are in charge of making sure that we stay stocked, that the cable bill is paid, and that broken items get reported to be fixed – but the closest of us live an hour away and we are usually each there only once or twice a month. While we are “in charge” we are meant to be more as a contact point for administration, and a number for volunteers to call with questions, or to inform us if they go out to restock (toilet paper for example) so that we can reimburse them. Basically we work as the duct tape that keeps the place together, and the keys that keep the workstations money locked up. (Volunteers have to pay to sleep in the space, basically a small amount to cover things like toilet paper, shampoo, and coffee). I don't even know how many times I have gone into Cotonou only to realize we are out of very basic items, only left to wonder how long it has been that way. When no one is present and in charge, it is really hard to keep order. That being said, for all the complaints that we could come up with, I think we keep the place running very smoothly. AND I was really impressed by the group of volunteers who came down to help us with the clean up after the regional camp meeting.

I hope admin won't be too shocked by the giant pile of trash that we put out when they get to the office tomorrow. I was really upset with myself that I didn't remember to take a picture of the trash pile, and didn't think to take before and after shots of some of the rooms. BUT here are some pictures of our wonderful workstation, taken after and during the clean up. For those of you who have been wondering what it looks like.


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