Day 12 cont. (again) + Day 13 - Sat. 21st

Some photos during the presentations made to Bro. Romain himself on the Friday night.

Sophie was enthralled by Bro. Francis' story :-)

When it was time to get things going on the Saturday morning of our "Festival", we (ie. Team Win) were asked to get things going with some songs, dances, etc... the stuff we'd been doing during the week, eg. Cha-Cha Slide, The Music Man... I put my foot in it by saying we'd been asked to be the "warm-up act" which was kinda true, but not what the team wanted to here. Francis covered for my faux-pas and went round quietly re-inflating egos, telling them they were far more than just a warm-up.

The French groups were then due to take over with some craft activities. A few groups seemed to get through their activities rather quickly (not deliberately, I assure you) but then seemed to have little else in reserve. It was hard for them coming into a situation where we knew the lay of the land, knew the kids and had built up friendships, etc... but they didn't. So in the end, we baled them out, together with the school sound system, operated by Akoh's nephew, Magloire, and did more song + dances, games, etc... and invited the locals to show us (and the French) their dancing skills, teaching us more of their moves.

Team Win leading the way in YMCA.

We also had a visit from a local reggae pop star, Cowboy, who entertained us during 2 slots in the morning, ably assisted by the smooth-moving Tom K. in his newly-found role as fearless dancefloor maestro.

Cowboy + Tom K. getting funky! (photo by Bro. Francis).

Josh B. + locals getting involved in a French-led tatooing activity (photo by Bro. Francis).

In the afternoon, Team Win were in their element as it was time for football (older boys in one game, girls and younger boys in another), parachute games, etc... Sport, dance and music proved wonderful ways of overcoming any potential language barriers, and when things did need to be explained either Bro. Francis or myself stepped in with some French. I think we proved some people wrong with the ease at which we coped with the language situation, but this was mainly due to our young Liverpudlians' willingness to reach out rather courageously to the local people through bits of French, gesture and the odd bit of English.

I am convinced of the importance of facial gesture (smiles, eye contact, etc...) when meeting people for the first time and our youngsters backed this up in their own interaction with the locals. So much can be communicated without speaking. The way the local children responded so warmly and affectionately to our group (the children loved physical contact, holding hands, an arm on the shoulder...) showed how successfully an atmosphere of trust, friendship and ultimately love had been built up in such a relatively short time.

Megan L., Andy R. + friends.

Michael M. with Solange, a charming girl aged about 2 + 1/2, but who loved play fights, thumping you with a gleefully innocent look on her face. I'll never forget the look on some of the French teens faces as they sat down with the children outside for the first time, only to be welcomed by Solonge strolling around nonchalantly behind them, smacking them all on the back of the head.

A little bit more about the weather. We were incredibly lucky throughout the whole trip to have overcast skies much of the time, especially whilst on our longest road journeys. This made for bearable, dare I say comfortable temperatures and gave us extra entertainment with the occasional heavy storm, lightning and flash flooding.

At Mango, they had received less rain during this year's rainy season than they needed. Crops were having to be reseeded and were in general well below the required growth at this stage. So when a heavy storm finally broke on the Sat. afternoon there was relief for some (the locals) and excitement for others (many of us). The intensity of the downpour took your breath away (just like after lunch at Sokodé when we were on our way north) as well as all the surface dust and insects.

Michael M. + John E. during the downpour.

More to come about Saturday's events....
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