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 attention of the local children.

In the end the (rather wonderful) clothing came in very handy that evening. When I gave it all out it seemed to perk everyone up a bit. Many of the group were very sad to leave Mango and had grown very attached to the people there.

The journey to Kara was straightforward. Just under 2 hours in another taxi-minibus, back down the main road we had taken from Aného to Mango. Our new accommodation was part of a centre run by an order of nuns, the Sisters of Providence. A native Togolese order (and quite a new one). Showers + flushing toilets!! None of the group had complained about the facilities we had in Mango (nor did they about anything really during the whole trip!), but you could nonetheless feel the (understandable) sense of relief from some when we saw showers. In Mango, the boys had to walk about 80 yards from the classes they were sleeping in to the very basic toilet and shower block. At night, the mosquitoes lay in waiting, ready to suck the blood of any poor, unsuspecting visitor! :-)

The nuns were most welcoming and fed us very well throughout our week there. But on the first night, we were fed by the Foyer Pierre du Pauvre = the orphanage where we were going to be working. It was about 5 mins. drive away in an open-backed lorry driven by one of the adults in charge of the centre. Risk-assessments in such situations have to be thrown out of the window... or off the back of the lorry!... and you have to put your trust in your hosts and rely on the good behaviour and common sense of the group (which as usual was faultless!). This is the way people there travel. Who are we to impose our own conditions/restrictions? Part of the reason for the whole trip was to try and understand what life can be like for people in Togo, and to do that you have to experience life as they do, with its limitations.

At the Foyer itself we were greeted by 2 of the team of 5 men (Michel and Pierre) that in fact run two such centres, one in the centre of Kara and one about 6 miles out into the bush. They introduced us to the children and asked us to share a time of prayer with them. They pray together every evening both supper. The depth of faith expressed by these devoted carers I found very moving. We finished with some lively songs and dances.
Prayer with the children.

A group of percussionists.

We contributed our "Lord I Lift Your Name On High" which, as usual, went down a storm. Like at Mass in Mango, they responded in kind with a wonderful song of their own... the same one that had been sung and danced for us in Mango: "Je n'ai trouvé personne comme Jésus." ("I've not found anyone like Jesus").

Pierre (the little guy in the middle) leading "Je n'ai trouvé personne...."

Team Win joining in.

By the end of this evening, I think we were all ready for the new challenge ahead. Still sad to leave friends behind, but looking forward to making new ones, and struck by the warmth and dedication of the people who had welcomed us.
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