Day 7 - July 15th (updated with photos)
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.
In 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 the dirt track, though to be fair he didn't need much persuading and apparently took great pleasure in hearing the screams we were making in the back. The hippos (2 of them) could only be seen at a distance, but everybody agreed it was a very worthwhile trip. There were six foot-high termite colonies, a fruit bat or two, wading birds and loads of colourful dragonflies.
Wot's 'appnin' Bro? Francis with his posse.
The way back was made at dusk to the accompaniment of Michael Mc and myself singing the JCB Song... "And the engine rattles my bum like berserk" has never been more appropriate :-).
P.S. There are swarms of insects around at night especially due to the humid, occasionally wet conditions. The variety and size of some is just breathtaking. Massive butterflies and tiny detailed ones, bright green camoflaged grasshoppers as big as your hand, crickets, scarab bettles struggling to stay upright... It's tempting to go all David Attenborough.