Yes, there is Couchsurfing in Lomé, the capital of Togo. I stayed with Justin for a night in his house close to the airport. He speaks French and English fluently and has some jobs from time to time in the sector of IT. But he has a big business plan for the future. He would like to set up a company for selling second hand clothe – and he already has a business partner.
When did you hear about Couchsurfing for the first time?
It was back in 2009. A guy from Belgium was in Lomé for some voluntary work and we used to hang around together. He told me about this portal and a few days later I signed up.
How do you participate?
I like to help people out. I live in my own, so I can host people. Also, I like the contact to foreign people. When I lived in Ghana, I also hosted people. But of course I am also available as a guide or just meet people for a drink. They do not necessarily need to stay at my place. Of course Couchsurfing is not about saving money: It is the exchange of ideas, opinions and cultures.
Is there anything particular what you have learned from Couchsurfing?
Yes, indeed. I learned a lot about different countries in Europe. French people for example, they come here and hang around. They go from pub to pub and drink coffee or beer the entire day. They do not really have a program when they come here. On the other hand, German people, they never come without a masterplan. Either they do a hell of sightseeing, or they know some people which they like to meet or other kind of program.
How did you explain Couchsurfing to your parents?
No need to explain to them. They participating in Couchsurfing even before the homepage was created. They do not call it Couchsurfing, though. But the culture of Togo is like this: you help strangers without charging for it. When I was young, my father often invited foreigners to our house and my mum provided food for them.
If you could be president for a day, what would you change?
Heavy questions. Wow, it is really a big question. Well, first of all, it is just a dream, I will never become president of Togo. But if, I think I would make better conditions for our generation. My cousin for example, he has studied in Cotonou, has a good degree but now he hasn´t got a job. I think I would change the mind-set of the people, if I could.