News Archives from the Home Page

Added 6/10/07

Sunday Aug. 12th Angelique Kidjo and Zap Mama are giving a FREE CONCERT in Central Park.  It's part of the Summer Stage Series.  Let's make it a FOB outing.  The concert starts at 3.  We should get there by at least 2:00.  Why don't we go to a Senegalese restaurant up town at around 11:30?  Any takers?  E-mail Chris at if you're interested.  For more information about how to get there etc.  see  In case you didn't know, Agelique has a new  album out and it's hot!


Added 5/27/07

Congratulations to our new officers!  With the infusion of new blood and enthusiasm FOB will surely improve.  The election results are in and all candidates who ran were unanimously elected.  See below for their names.   They will hold their positions for two years.  

Added 5/27/07

Voting ended 5/27/07 and the  term is for two years so the next elections will be held in May of 2009

Candidate Bios and Statements:


Raimi Bello, Benin national who worked a great deal with Peace Corps in Benin as well as with many ONGs and microfinance institutions. He is also married to RPCV, Emily (Kellerhals) Bello '02-'04 (FOB Membership Coordinator)


 Jessica Duke, RPCV Benin '89-'91. Jessica was an officer previously for FOB.

Greetings Everyone.  I am pleased to be back in the saddle again, as a Friends of Benin Officer.  I previously served as FoB "lots of things" a few years ago.  As Vice President, I plan to help out where needed to keep FoB an active organization.  I will also contribute good gris gris to Raimi so that he maintains good health as President!
I was a "Rural Community Development" volunteer in Houeyogbe Benin (Mono Province) from 1989 - 1991.  I was 60 km from the steampunk corsets and 20 km from the Togo border as the crow flew and as my bike traveled.  If you've ever zoomed through Houeyogbe since, there is a Centre Social and a Nutritional Recuperation Center that were constructed under my watch.  At the beginning of my service, we referred to everyone as "Comrade".  By the end of my service, we didn't.  My two years in Benin provided me with life-long lessons, endless memories and a better understanding of our larger world.
I would like to see FoB serve to keep members connected and to activiely contribute to organizations doing worthwhile projects in Benin.
Still, Prête pour la revolution...
Jessica Duke

Beth Whelan, RPCV Benin '02-'04; Parakou. Beth worked with Junior Achievement in Benin and also went to Sri Lanka for two years after the tsunami to help.


Tyson Roberts, RPCV Benin '95-'97. Tyson is also a FOB alumni and was/will be the producer of the Deadbeat.


Chris Starace, RPCV Benin '95-'97; Allada. Chris has been maintaining the FOB website throughout the last several years even when FOB wasn't very active. Chris also is the creator of the Fon is Fun website.

Chris Starace:  I'm happy to continue as FOB webmaster because I want to promote the growth of FOB through this effective means of communication and because I enjoy web design.  I have been the FOB webmaster for several years and I've enjoyed it.  I have a good amount of basic web design experience under my belt with my site as well as this site.   If you have any suggestions or comments about the website, please let me know at

   I went back to Benin in 2004 with my wife for 2 weeks and I filmed a documentary video that I sell on my site. I give all proceeds to my neighbors in Allada.  The money has funded dozens of children's education.  It has also provided for medical treatment, mosquito nets and replaced the roofs on their houses.  I was a Small Business Development PCV in Allada from 1995 to 1997. 


Emily Bello RPCV Benin '02-'04; Bante and Houegbo.  She is currently the membership coordinator for the National Peace Corps association, so this would be an extension of her day job.

Added 5/15/07

Elections are currently being held for the following candidates.  Since no one is running opposed all candidates will become official 5/20/07 unless someone else nominates his or her self for a contested position.   E-mail if you're interested. 

President: Raimi Bello

Vice President: Jessica Duke

Secretary/Treasurer: Beth Whelan

Membership Coordinator: Emily Bello

Newsletter Editor: Tyson Roberts

Webmaster: Chris Starace


Added 1/5/06

Yves Computer Project Update

Our last Happy Hour raised $891 for Yves project!  This will help to buy one computer for Lycee Davie in Porto Novo. 

If any one has any suggestions or contacts in obtaining additional equipment please email me ( and Yves ( 

Please Click here for more information concerning this project!  

Thank you for your support!

Cindy Streb -Abomey- '98-'00


Posted 12/11/05

The Benin Education Fund, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization founded in 1998 that provides children in rural West Africa the opportunity to attend school.  We have several Benin RPCV's involved in our activities already, so I’m hoping the FOB members also would be interested in our work, too.  Read their Fall 2005 Newsletter.  and see their website:


Added 9/12/05

My name is Britta Runbeck and I am a Benin RPCV who just returned to the states a month ago.  When I returned I learned of a recent tragedy that just happened.  Two girls who were participating in a Peace Corps sponsored event fell into deep water and drown.  As you can imagine, the participating volunteers are very distraught.  I wanted to do something to help them through this tough time and so I opened a memorial fund account for the communities of the two girls who died.  The money will fund a project chosen by the volunteer and the community in honor of the girls.  I am hoping to raise $1000 for each community.  For more information read the Memorial Fund Letter

Added 12/9/05

Yves Toudonou needs your help!

 Mark your calendars for Thursday, December 15, 2005 - 6PM for an All RPCV Happy Hour  benefiting Yves Toudonou's Computer Lab in Porto Novo.  It is at Recessions  - 1823 L Street - located about a block from HQ and is in the basement of the Lincoln Suites Hotel.  We will be raffling off a Dell Laptop Computer - all proceeds will go directly to this project!  Click here for more information concerning this project! Please Click here for more information concerning this project!


 Cindy Streb-- Abomey ’98-‘00

Added 6/9/05

Yves Toudonou needs your help!

 Computer Lab Update:  Yves is asking former volunteers to donate to his Computer Lab Project at his former school, College Davie, in Porto Novo.  A Happy Hour was held in April (in DC) where $330 was raised by selling raffles tickets.  Computers cost $800 in Benin so we need to raise more money! Please Click here for more information concerning this project!


 Cindy Streb-- Abomey ’98-‘00


Added 3/15/05

Mark your calendars for Friday, April 1, 2005 - 6PM for a RPCV-Benin Happy Hour (Free appetizers and cheap drinks) benefiting Yves Toudonou’s Computer Lab in Porto Novo.  It is at Recessions  - 1823 L Street - located about a block from HQ and is in the basement of the Lincoln Suites Hotel.  We will be raffling off a Compaq Presario Desktop Computer - all proceeds will go directly to this project!  Click here for more information concerning this project!


Added 3/1/05

Chris Starace released a documentary on Benin called "Discovering Benin, West Africa." He filmed it on his first trip back to Benin last July, and he's donating all profits to his needy Beninese friends in Allada.   He was a SBD volunteer from 1995-1997.  For more information about the video, to see a sample clip and to order a copy, click on the DVD graphic above.


Added 11/16/04

The old FOB Yahoo Groups list has been abandoned because we lost the password to it and could not block spammers.  Please join the new group at the below link to keep in touch with everyone.

Added 8/28/04

I have added pictures from my trip to Benin this July.  I have also written an article about it for the Deadbeat.  There are also two pictures from the NPCA conference.  See the Photo Gallery .


Added 6/2/04

Merci Beaucoup et félicitacions a Tyson Roberts, Andreas Hipple, and Mardi Nott!  It looked as if we were going to have problems filling many vacant positions on the board this election, but thankfully they have stepped up to help.  Needless to say they were unanimously elected.  The board is excited to have new blood and enthusiasm added to our group.  Andreas Hipple is our new Vice President, Tyson Roberts is the new Deadbeat Editor, and Mardi Nott is our new Treasurer.  

We could still use another person who can manage our membership database.  If you know how to use database software or are willing to learn, please let us know!  We could also use someone who is good at graphic design to help our Deadbeat Newsletter editor.  Both Brian Reublinger (President)  and Chris Starace (Webmaster) ran for another term and were re-elected.  We are all looking forward to serving FOB and hope we can  increase the presence and activity level of FOB in the future... with your help of course!   Click Here to read acceptance letters.


Added around May 2004

Board acceptance speeches

President: Brian Reublinger

Vice President:  Andreas Hipple  

     Sec./Treasurer/  Mardi Nott

Newsletter Editor:  Tyson Roberts  (Aka Father of Shoshana) "I'm very excited about being the new Deadbeat Editor.  I hope to build on the success of Jessica Duke (previous issues of the deadbeat are available at the website,  My goal is to have lots of article contributions from members, so start sending in your material now!"

Webmaster- Chris Starace    I'm glad to be able to hold my position as webmaster for another term as I enjoy making websites.  I also have another Benin related website called Fon is Fun... Really!   where I teach people how to speak Fon and share all sorts of information about my experiences in Benin.   Websites are only a means of conveying information, but if I don't have new information to convey, then the website will become stale.  I have set up many features on the website that I would like to remind you to take advantage of:  

Pictures:  Please send me pictures in .jpg format that are 100 kb or less.

Contact Info:  Please submit your contact info. so other volunteers can find you

Bio Info:  Submit a brief Bio about yourself so others can see what you've been up to or to network for professional or social reasons.

Links:   Send me interesting Benin related web links.  There are tons of websites out there!

Classifieds:  Post an add about anything you're looking for- people, jobs, information, etc.

Guest Book:  Sign the guest book!

FOB List Server:  Post e-mail messages to everyone on the list at once about anything Benin or FOB related.

PCV to Be Q & A:  Soon to be PCV's have tons of questions, concerns, doubts, and fears.  They post their questions here, and we answer them.  Check from time to time to see if you can answer someone's question or add to an answer already given.

As always, if you have any suggestions for the website or can help with web design, let me know.  


Added 11/25/03

FOB has made a donation of $750 to the 

The Benin Education Fund

It is a volunteer organization that works to provide children in rural West Africa the opportunity to attend school.


The National Peace Corps Association Conference and Friends of Benin Reunion was a success!  (June 21, 2002)

Click here for two photos of the group:  Photo one and two.   A an article about the event will be published in the next Deadbeat.

Click Here for Lori Killpatrick's Photos of the events 



Elections are over and the board 

members are official for a two year term  >>> Click here for more info  

Voting ended 5/31/02 and the  term is for two years so the next elections will be held in May of 2004

The changing of the guard will officially take place at the NPCA
Conference.  Peter deGroot, who faithfully served FoB for two
years, will perform his last act as President at the "Country of
Service" Update, Saturday, June 22.


Candidate Statements:


Dear RPCV's

I, Brian Paul Reublinger, am running for elected office of Friends of Benin President.  I served in Benin from 1995 -1997 as a Forester.  I lived in the town of Kopargo, just North of Djougou in the Atakora.  My main project there was constructing mud/clay, or Lorena, stoves.  I did other projects such as nurseries, AIDS education, erosion control, agro forestry, and created seed banks.  Just to name a few.

I look at my Peace Corps experience in several ways. The most important thing I learned was about myself. I never gave up.  There were too many times that I was spiking a fever and burning up in my hut on a cool night. I got sick so many times.  During my first year I lost 40 pounds in 3 months.  Even though I never really mastered the French Language during my two
years. I kept on working and took French classes twice a week until I only had one month left in my tour. For all the suffering and joy I experienced while there, I miss it greatly.

So what am I doing currently, chasing my dream.  I remember during the closing day of the Close Of Service conference.  Our Instructor said that this may be the last time you are all together.  One by one we all said good-bye to each other.  A Teacher, Marcus Pressel, said to me that whenever he's watching the news at home and sees a story about forest fires, he'll think of me.

I currently work for the USDA, Forest Service fighting wildfires.  In 1998, was offered a full time position in Arizona.  On the Prescott National Forest, in the town of Crown King, I worked for three years as an Assistant Fire Engine Captain. Supervising 3-4 people. My duties were to attack fires by digging fire line (the removal of all organic material, until
you expose the dirt, 3 ft wide surrounding a fire and cutting off its supply of burnable material.  I operated chain saws, supplied water to the fire via hoses, and at times was in charge of the operation and safety of all other fire fighters on that fire.

While also there.  I joined the Crown King Volunteer Fire Department. I mostly worked on the ambulance as a EMS First Responder.  I worked my way up the chain in only 3 years by working hard.  From Fire Fighter to First Responder, Assistant Engine Captain, Engine Captain, to Duty Officer (when a fire or medical call came in, I was in charge of dispatching resources and being in-charge of the incident until it was finished.

In 2001, I moved to Oregon.  I was offered another fire position on the Wallowa/Whitman National Forest. Now I was in charge of a fire station with 2 wild land fire engines and 7 seasonal employees.  I've even had the privilege of running a 20 person hand crew in Washington on a fire of 35,000 acres. This year I'm working on a hand crew to get more experience on fires without the help of engines. 

My time in the Peace Corps holds a special place in my heart.  After I did my presentation during National Peace Corps day, I began to bring back old memories. I also wanted to do something more than just a once a year deal.  So, I'm now running for President.

I don't have any experience when it comes to politics but you should all know that I will give it my best. We all came from different backgrounds.  The only thing that binds us together is our Peace Corps experience. I want to keep those memories alive and not have them fade away. It's a time in all our lives that we will never forget.

Vote for me, Brian Paul Reublinger, and I'll do what it takes to keep the memory alive, because I don't give up.  



Jessica Duke:  I have served Friends of Benin as Vice President for two years.  I am happy to continue in that position and would also like to take over Deadbeat Editing duties.   I will do my best to solicit a variety of articles from PCV’s and RPCV’s


Lori Killpatrick: I have served as treasurer since FOB got off the ground several years ago. I am happy to continue soliciting your dues, receiving your money, and reminding you of your expiration dates.  Thanks for your continued support.  


Chris Starace:  I would like to be the FOB webmaster because I want to promote the growth of FOB through this effective means of communication and because I enjoy web design.  I have been the Deadbeat editor for the last few years and I'd like a change of responsibilities.  I have a good amount of basic web design experience under my belt having two websites. They are Fon is Fun at and  so you can see what I've done.


Chris Robbins: Chris has been “publishing” the Deadbeat for FoB for two years.



Information of the Friends of Benin Reunion Fete at the Annual Peace Corps Reunion in DC:  

Angelique Kidjo Concert the next day!

2124 Kalorama Road, NW,
Washington, D.C.
SOIREE-following the Fête
1615 Q St., NW
Washington, D.C.

Friends of Benin Fête-
Registration Form -DUE MAY 31,
2002  (form is below)

Join us for our rescheduled Friends of Benin Fête on Friday, June 21, 2002 at the Beninese Embassy in Washington, D.C.  You will be able to enjoy food and drink while perusing Beninese art, meeting Benin Embassy Personnel and chit-chatting with other Benin RPCV's.  Compare stories of the decades...Did volunteers in the '60s have it harder than volunteers in the '80s?  Did every volunteer in the '70s have a motorcycle?  Did volunteers of the '90s really bring compact disks with them?  Do all volunteers from this century have internet access?  What was it like to be a "comrade?"  Is there really a jazz club in Cotonou?  To find out the answers to these questions and more, come to the Friends of Benin Fête.  All Benin RPCVs, their family and friends are invited.  Don't forget to wear your best Beninese garb.  The party does not end at the Embassy.  Festivities will continue at Benin RPCV's Bill Lommel's rooftop .  Enjoy a fantastic view of the
city and more conversation.  Immediately following the Fête, join us for the Soirée.  The Soirée is BYOB. Registration is on first-come, first served basis (with preference going to current Friends of Benin members).  Cost for this party is only $5 per person for FoB members (and their family members).  $10 for non-FoB members.  You must register NO LATER THAN FRIDAY MAY 31st.  Please see registration form on next page.  We hope to see you there.  Please bring  picture ID with you to enter the embassy.

Calling all DC area Benin RPCVs, we need help making this party great.  Can you help with logistics,  organizing food & beverage, setting-up, cleaning-up, etc.   Please consider giving a few of your hours to FoB.  If you can help, please contact Jessica Duke ASAP.  Thanks. (503) 236-3586 OR

Name* __________________________________________
FoB Member  _______ YES  _______NO  ________Not yet, but ITm
sending my membership dues with this form.


Telephone _____________________________

E-mail ________________________________ (We will likely
contact you by e-mail with any updates)
NOTE-If you already registered and paid for the party in September,
send no money but DO send in this form.
Amount Enclosed ____________  $5 per FoB Member (and each FoB
family member) / $10 per non-FoB member
*Full Names and Birthdates are needed for security reasons at the
Embassy. (If you are registering more than one guest, please include
names and birthdates for everyone in your party, separate sheet of
paper is fine)
Please send this form with check for necessary amount to:
Friends of Benin /Lori Killpatrick  3119 Clairemont Drive, San Diego, CA 92117

Angelique Concert the Next Day!

Angelique Kidjo is playing at Wolf Trap the afternoon after the Embassy fete
(6/22).  Read below for more information.

Saturday, June 22 at 1:00 PM

Wolf Trap's 2002 Jazz & Blues Festival
Saturday Matinee

Tower of Power
Angélique Kidjo
The Tommy Castro Band
Avalon Blues
A Tribute to Mississippi John Hurt
Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Chris Smither
Marcus Strickland Quartet
(a winner of the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition)

The joint starts jumping at lunch time and keeps on going! Six great acts
for the price of one performing on two stages. As you enjoy sumptous
specialty foods, be sure to meet the artists at autograph signings. It's
the all-day party of the festival!
Ticket Price: $25 in advance | $30 day of show
General Admission | Gates open at 12:00 noon