Blogs from Togo, Africa


Africa » Togo » Lome April 10th 2013

By the time we had crossed into Togo it was late in the day and we had little time to find the campsite. It was a bit unnerving as the moment you cross the border you are spat out right into the centre of Lome and forced to negotiate the gauntlet that is African urban driving. Even in the fading light you could see that the city had seen better days as we drove along the promenade passing the various crumbling edifices that were thrown up in the post independence building boom. Although the palm tinged promenade and wide colonial era boulevards had a certain charm the city had long lost its tag as the Paris of West Africa. After a few wrong turns around the docks and some questioning from an inquisitive policemen we manage ... read more
Grand Popo French Colonial House
Grand Popo Beach
Grand Popo French Colonial House Doorway

Africa » Togo » Lome June 16th 2012

Yes, the Africa Mercy is sailing. A pod of dolphins is now swimming off the port side. Wow! We left Lome, Togo this morning. We are heading for the Canary Islands. This ship was originally a ferry and when out to sea it rocks from side to side. Right now, all I see is water. It is a bit cloudy. When we left port, the port captain/pilot came on board to guide us out. There were two tug boats that helped get us going as well. Once we were out of the harbor the pilot returned to port, probably on one of the tugs. There was a stow-away search, and then we were on our way. Everything is tied down. We have been busy for the last two weeks preparing. I had no idea there was ... read more

Africa » Togo » Lome June 8th 2012

There have been many good-byes this week. There was a celebration of thanks for the 200 plus day workers who have worked with Mercy Ships in Togo. Men came dressed in suits or African dress, and the women were all in beautiful African dresses and head coverings. Of course this included an African meal of rice, beans, plantains, and other specialty dished that I cannot name, singing and dancing. This was not a boring event. I love hearing them sing. It was followed by ice cream which seems the dessert of choice on ship for celebrations. It is vanilla and more like an ice milk. These men and women day workers are local people who translate, work as stewards, go on some of the non-medical ministries (about 10 of them), drive, do repairs, etc. A few ... read more

Africa » Togo » Lome May 30th 2012

Last Saturday I went to the women’s prison. It was some distance away. There is a closer one, in Lome. It is visited by other Christian groups. Mercy Ships was told that the prison we went to rarely got visiting groups. I don’t know the name of the place. It is hard to understand what is being said. Most of the time Ewe, the local language, is spoken. There were guards who greeted us as we entered. I didn’t see any guns. They were probably out of sight. There were three women. They were dressed neatly. How they managed to keep clean is a mystery. The compound also has men. Our men visited with them. We stayed about an hour. The women were kept in two rooms. One was about 20 by 15 feet and about ... read more

Africa » Togo » Lome May 30th 2012

Wednesday May 30 We arrived at the border with Togo nearing dusk and once we cleared Ghana, filled in paperwork and presented ourselves to Togolese officials. Visas are issued on the spot and after changing money we were on our way, heading towards Lomé with the coast on our right-hand side. Nearing the port we came across what seemed like over one hundred trucks, parked along the road waiting for their turn. This meant traffic was now only one lane and it was almost impossible for our truck to get around corners. Nico jumped out to help navigate in the dark and nearly got hit by one of the many motorbikes who had squeezed through a two foot gap rather than wait for us to move. We made it around the roundabout and once again organised ... read more
Library, Balanka
Computer room in library


Africa » Togo » Lome May 23rd 2012

Last evening we met in the International Lounge for a talk on Tongolese culture. Well, there are over 50 cultural groups here, but there are some unifying threads: unity, working together, hope, interdependence. A local couple discussed art, music, and story telling. here are a few proverbs. The more proverbs a man knows, the wiser he will be in the eyes of others. 1 Your own brother cannot be on the fruit tree and you eat the green fruits. 2 One hand cannot catch a buffalo. 3 The ants say that, together, they can build a deck. 4 You recognize a true friend when you have a problem. 5 The head scarf begins at home. 6 A child who knows how to wash his hands clean, eats with the elders. Moral: 1 If your ... read more

Africa » Togo May 17th 2012

Wednesday, I went with a group to Palime to visit the Missionary Sisters of Charity. They care for children and adults with HIV, TB, other illnesses and palliative care. There were four sisters and some lay workers. The sisters spoke English. One said she was from Bangladesh. The others were also dark skinned, but I don’t know where they were from. They will stay in Palime for about four years, but can also be reassigned at any time. They were gracious and fun loving. This is the order of sisters started by Mother Theresa. They wear the traditional habit of the Sisters of Charity. There were about 25 men and women patients when we visited. There were many more during the last visit, but many were well enough to go home before this visit. A doctor ... read more

Africa » Togo » Lome May 14th 2012

Today, I went to an African fishing village for church worship and a prayer walk around the village. It was awesome! What a wonderful opportunity this was and it probably will be one of the highlights of this trip. One of the chaplains from Africa Mercy went also and three ranger rovers full of crew members. We arrived to the sound of music and singing. A generator pumped the sound system. Mostly there were drums. Some young ladies did percussion with gourds covered with a loose net with beads. The women and men sat on different sides of the church. The children were outside under a canvas tarp having their Sunday school. There were about 50 adults and as many children. Church is at least a three hour service. There is also the social time that ... read more

Africa » Togo May 11th 2012

This morning I worked at the Africa Mercy Ship Eye Clinic. There was a dancing and singing celebration. Previously, about 25 men and women received cataract surgery. On this post-op visit, they had their vision tested and were given reading glasses, if needed. They received three kinds of eye drops and other exams. The patients all carried a blue Mercy bag pouch with eye supplies in them. The clinic was held in a large tube like tent on the dock. My main jobs was to escort patients as they came out of the other end of the tent back to the waiting area where they sat on benches under a canvas covering. They were given cookies and water. Two interpreters then gave them instructions. They were told to always wear sun glasses outside. They were told ... read more

Africa » Togo » Lome May 8th 2012

Last night I went to a school for the deaf. There were about thirty kids who live too far to go home every night, so only go on the weekends. We were in a large court yard for our activities. It had a gazebo type shelter with wooden tables and chairs. The kids know American Sign Language. I learned to sign a few words. We read a story, “I’m Going on a Lion Hunt” and helped them make lion masks. Two crew kids and their mom were with us. Our boys played soccer with them. The school kids were very excited about having them there. We played games and communicated as best we could. This morning I went with two Mercy Ships men from Lome to a detention center for teens. The police/guards were not in ... read more

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