Showing posts from July, 2007

Day 10 - Weds. July 18th

Some photos added to this message.

Ouf! At last I'm able to get back online in a cybercafé in Kara (where we have been based from Mon. 23rd). Judging by the comments on this blog and remarks made by family members of people in our group, you have been avidly waiting for further news... Well, here I go. I'll try and summarise as much as possible.

Day 10 - Visit to Dapaong and the Brothers' Noviciate community for West Africa

A Noviciate is the first year of training and discernment for any budding Brother. Bro. Romain (from Dapaong), the Head of our school in Mango was in my Noviciate group in 1990. This day we were picked up by a French Brother, Bro. Jean, Master of Novices and taken to the Noviciate for lunch. A visit en route to a retreat centre at Daluag run by nuns near a shrine to Our Lady. Fantastic views.

At the shrine.

With my former co-Novice and good friend Bro. Romain.

We also walked through Dapaong market and were taken by Bro. Jean to see the local hospital.

The edge…

Day 8 - July 16th

Photos have now been uploaded to the previous message.

Day 8 was our second full day with the children. The morning's events included craft activities and small games (inc. making crowns that the children then proudly wore for the rest of the day) and team games including football in very long, sharp, scratch-inducing grass.

It was so long due to the recent rain and the fact that school had finished a few weeks earlier. The children themselves started to cut it the following morning with their families' machetes (frightening looking things). In the afternoon we taught them how to play baseball (well, softball really) which they seemed to pick up incredibly quickly, especially the batting.

Day 9 - July 17th

Day 9 was another full day of activities with the local children. We all started to feel much more relaxed and comfortable with them I think today. Getting a ghetto blaster out (the one we brought here) with our mp3 players providing playlists helped to enliven the atmosphere, got us all dancing and provided a lively accompaniment to the sports and games in the morning. These included beach ball games, mini tennis, small group football drills, gymnastics, etc...

Andy R. running a football game
Awards for the most appropriate songs go to:

Here Comes The Sun (The Beatles)
Rain Down (Delirious)
Africa (Toto)

Award for the best dance routine goes to:

Sarah S., Simon T., Sophie N. + John E. aka SaSiSoJo for Let's Get It Started (Black Eyed Peas)

SaSiSoJo going through their paces (by the way, I made the name up! :-) In the afternoon we had a large, tightly contested game of football (mixed teams, 8-6 the score) on the half of the full pitch that the children had managed to cut. Andy R. fell an…

Day 7 - July 15th (updated with photos)

Day 7

This began with an 8.00am Mass at the local Mango parish (in a mixture of French and the dominant local language). Many of us were moved by the wonderful singing + dancing of the large choir, accompanied by djembe drums. The whole atmosphere was very relaxed and the priest, a Togolese Franciscan, encouraged the congregation to ask questions and give feedback about the readings during his sermon. At the end we were given 3 welcomes, one in French, one in the local tongue and one in English by our friend Bro. Romain. Afterwards, everyone wanted to come and shake our hands and thank us for coming to work with their children. You can't help but be moved by this people's friendliness, warmth and kindness to us.
After MassIn the afternoon, Bro. Romain drove us about 5 miles into the bush (all squeezed into his pick-up) to a nature reserve where there are hippos. Those in the back got a VERY bumpy ride thanks to those in the front egging Bro. Romain to speed up over the bumps in …

Days 5+6 - July 13-14

Earlier messages have been updated with photos and there are some at the bottom of this one.

PS (Day 4).

On our way out of Fio Kondji village Bro. Philippe bought a small goat for a celebration meal they were having over the weekend in his community. The goat was tied up and left on the floor of our bus bleating away, slightly traumatising a few of the group. Much fun was had at poor old Michael Mc's expense though he took it in good spirit.

Edgar holding Michael the goat :-), soon to be Michael the ex-goat Sunday lunch.

Day 5 - Friday the 13th!!!! Aného to Mango (550 kms in 11 hrs including stops)

What an adventure this day was. We just about managed to fit into a rugged, 14-seater Toyota Hiace taxi with most of our baggage tied on the roof, though there was actually a 15th person squeezed in: the driver's assistant/mechanic. His presence was explained when we broke down after about 3 hours (a blown glow plug apparently, according to resident mechanic and motor expert Tom B. who a…

Days 3+4, July 11th-12th (updated with photos)

Day 3 cont.

... It turns out that King Lawson great-grandfather (one of the 3 local Kings at Aného, not 2 as I first thought) went to study in England (London) in the 19th century. His 2 favourite cities in England were London and Liverpool, so he named his bedroom and private quarters New London and another part of his palace Liverpool. I felt a bit sorry for the 40 or so young French people who came with us to see him because they must have felt rather left out with him making such a fuss of us.

King Lawson is the 8th King of his line and so was highly delighted when we gave him a "Liverpool 08 Capital Of Culture" t-shirt and a Liverpool 800th anniversary commemorative medal. He thought we had this planned all along. Some things I suppose are just meant to be!
King Lawson with some of his council members and advisorsI knew a bit about Togo's history but had no idea there were links with England. Togo was first invaded by the Germans in the 19th century. A treaty was signe…

Day 3 - July 11th (updated with photos)

Just a quickie... lots to tell you... for now just to say that the flight to Togo went without incident. It's HOT... but winter for the locals... 27 deg at night! Coach from the airport to Aneho... 27 miles. We have beds, youth hostel style, in a Brothers' school 100 yrds from the beach... swimming forbidden due to strong currents.

Bro. Francis proudly showing off his mosquito netThis morning a visit to the local tribal King!!!! (ie. equivalent of the Lord Mayor (but with more powers). Very impressive man. His ancestor, the first king, came to study in England. He named parts of his palace New London + Liverpool!!!! Loved our City Of Culture gifts. We are now all Princes + Princesses in his kingdom :-). More to follow.....
King Lawson VIII with us and some of the French group

Togo '07 - Day 1 (July 9th) (message updated + photo)

Here's some news from our day in Paris. No problems with the flight to Paris (security, baggage, etc...) except Josh B. getting his backpack stuck in an automatic ticket barrier. A metro station employee had to come and free him causing much hilarity in the group.

We then headed to the Brothers' community in southern central Paris to drop our gear off before heading out for an afternoon of sight-seeing.

Places visited included Trocadero with its wonderful view of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe (which we climbed, all 284 steps - Michael Mc. counted them all) and Notre Dame Cathedral. After some free time to wander and get a few souvenirs, we headed for a well-known little side street with plenty of good value restaurants (my 4 years of study in Paris come in handy sometimes! :-).... and a Haagen Dazs ice-cream parlour! We had a very nice meal in a French restaurant (there were Greek and Italian ones also), though Paul H. was a little miffed that his chocolate mousse came i…

Africa 07: travel info for all French + English participants

Parents + participants: this table gives you the details (in French I'm afraid!) of who is going where and when. I will print this off to give to people for Tuesday's meeting together with luggage tags and contact information sheets.