Showing posts from August, 2007

Day 19 - Fri. 27th (Part 1)

This was our last day in Kara. Energy levels were by now flagging, but spirits were still high. The end was now in sight as we were flying back home 3 days later. The morning was taken up with art + craft work (drinking straw butterflies), ball games (including a mini volleyball tournament and small group games) and some more songs and dances. There's nothing like a bit of competitive spirit to reignite energy levels. And that was certainly the case during the volleyball tournament (see below).

Making the butterflies.

Proudly displaying the finished articles

A ball game where you have to try and get the ball through the legs of the other people... with some keeping their feet much closer together than others!! Eg. Tom K. with his back to us.

John E. starring as a net post, Bro. Francis as referee.

The volleyball tournament proved very popular with mixed teams of English and Togolese together. But, when the Togolese youths challenged Team Win to a Togo vs. England match, the gloves came…

Day 18 - Thurs. 26th

On this particular morning we decided to have a go at teaching the children the English words to Lord I Lift Your Name On High, as many of the young people had expressed an interest in learning them since we had sung and danced it on our first night with them. They also clearly appreciated the spiritual nature of the song and this added to their interest in learning it. We also went through the chorus of Rise + Shine (the Noah's Ark song) which we came back to for a second English lesson the following morning.

One must bear in mind that their first foreign language was French, not English. However, they showed a real interest in English and some of them did know a little bit themselves already.

Eager pupils ready to learn!

Michael writing out (then decorating) the lyrics (photo Bro. Francis)

John pointing out the words as we repeated them all together (photo Bro. Francis)

Afterwards, we sung the song again, but this time the children loudly joined in the singing as well as doing the ac…

Day 17 (part 2)

Before continuing with an account of what we got up to later that day, here are some more photos of the mango tree planting:

Once this was finished, we were taken on a tour around the grounds of this out-of-town part of the orphanage. They work the land very hard and also keep animals for food (chicken and other wild fowl, goats, pigs, etc...). We were shown their church which is quite a large, but as yet unfinished building with a bare earth floor, bare walls, a few benches, no altar or sanctuary area... Basically they do not have the funds to finish it off. Francis and I both felt that trying to raise money for its completion would be a very worthwhile venture. Bearing in mind the depth of faith we'd witnessed at the Evening Prayer on our first night at the town Foyer, we knew that its completion would be very much appreciated and that it would get lots of use.

We were told where the name Foyer La Pierre Du Pauvre comes from (Pierre as in "stone" rather than the name &qu…

Day 17 - Weds. 25th (part 1)

On the Weds. we were taken in the lorry to the Foyer's second centre which is about 10 miles outside of Kara itself, right out in the bush. Conditions here were even more basic than in the town-based part of the orphanage, but as in the town, we received a very warm and friendly welcome from everyone.

The day began in a very touching manner with members of the orphanage pairing up with us for ceremonial mango planting on part of the 40 hectares of land that the Foyer owns. The children are taught basic farming techniques (and other manual skills) and work the land to give food to themselves and also the possibility of selling some of their produce to bring money in.

Each of us would have a young mango tree planted for us by one of the young people as a memorial of our time spent with them.

On our way to plant the mango trees.

Something I had noticed on our travels around the country was the size and frequency of termite colonies. Whilst our trees were being planted, a few of us went t…

Some more photos from Day 16

On our way into the mountains.

Tom B. and Matthew W. with a good view over the top of the lorry.

Sarah keeping the troops entertained!

Day 16 - Tues. 24th

I belatedly realised I've been getting the dates wrong in the blog headings. Doh! They've now been corrected.

Tues. 24th was our first day working with the children at the orphanage Foyer Pierre du Pauvre. In actual fact it was only half a day, as the centre Director, Michel, invited us to come with him and youngsters from the Foyer to a special celebration in the afternoon. But more about that later.

The morning started with a few team games and crown-making, getting the children to put their names on them. Space was at a premium compared to Mango, but it did not cause too many problems in the end. There was a wide range of ages represented in the 50-odd children, but it was quickly evident that they were used to being together, the older ones often taking the youngest under their wing to help them with the different activities. The children were clearly very well looked after by the team who ran the Foyer (physically, emotionally and spiritually), but resources were obviously …

Reminder from Sophie

Thanks Soph for the reminder that the girls were just as delighted (if not more so) about the showers and toilets in Kara :-), which I think helped us to overcome the "missing Mango blues".

Briefly back to Day 14 - Sun. + Rome

I've just solved (in part at least) the mystery of Tom B. and the balloons in one of the photos. It was his birthday on the Sunday, so we made a bit of a fuss of him over Sunday lunch (as was only right and proper): present, card +..... balloons. He was actually quite taken aback by it all and seemed to really appreciate the effort people in the group had made which was nice. So I think in the photo he's just playing around with his birthday balloons (though it does look strange, I admit :-)


We had a day in Rome itself today... our one day off for visits during our week of meetings. I'll put some photos up soon.

Day 15 - Mon. 23rd

Our departure for Kara on the Monday morning was held up due to a tailoring delay... thanks to Bro. Romain we had been able to choose material and order shirts, trousers, etc. from a tailor in Mango, but in the end he was hard pushed to meet our Monday morning deadline. It's something we had to get used to whilst in Togo... their conception of time and duration. "20 mins." sometimes actually meant a great deal more than that. But looking at things from a positive perspective, it's mainly due to the relaxed, carefree approach to life that most of the people there have. And to be honest, I suppose a lot of us would be rather jealous of such a stress-free attitude. It's just that on that particular morning, such a delay was the last thing we needed
a) because of the emotions involved in long drawn out goodbyes
b) because the French group who were taking over from us couldn't get started with their activities whilst we were still hanging around , commanding the at…

Day 14 - Sun. 22nd

I'm writing this in our Brothers' house in Castelgondolfo, just outside Rome, having arrived here today for a week of meetings for vocations directors in our order from around the world (21 of us). Hasn't sunk in yet that I'm now in Italy. It feels rather surreal, as if my mind is still elsewhere (back in Liverpool, or even in Togo). Looks like I'll be able to continue updating the blog most days this week.


On the Sunday we went back to Mango parish church for Mass, but this time with many of the Festival weekend participants. The Novice Brothers had gone back to Dapaong (1hr from Mango), but the Scholastics (about 12) and the French groups were still with us. We had been invited to help lead the music for the Mass with the local choir. It was a real cosmopolitan affair, reflecting the 9 different nationalities amongst the Mennaisian Brothers and youths with parts of the Mass and hymns sung in the following languages: French, Moba - Togo…