Today was the first meeting of a new French Club for children being held each Saturday here at the hospital. This will be a time for games and a Bible lesson, and an opportunity for our missionary kids to have fun and get to know other Togolese children all while speaking French.
Today was Tabaski the second in importance of two Muslim holidays. This is the third Tabaski we’ve seen in Togo and it’s strange how different our view of this day is this year verses our first year when we were just a couple weeks into our life in Mango. It’s impossible to drive through town today without seeing animals that have been killed for this holiday. The methods vary… Some burn the hair off so that strong smell of burning hair hangs in pockets throughout town, and some skin the sheep and goats, but at the end of the day there are animal carcasses hung together to be cooked up and enjoyed tomorrow.
The current Togolese nurses in the hospital were all trained for three years at our southern hospital before the opening of the Hospital of Hope in 2015. Most came from families, villages, and churches many hours to the south and most don’t speak the same tribal languages of the patients we see. They’ve left the things familiar to them to be a part of this project.
Here’s a photo of a home another of our nurses is building for his family. Pray that God would protect and encourage our current nurses as they serve and become a part of this community.
Today Melissa and I took advantage of free childcare and an opportunity to get away from the hospital together for a few hours. We rode the motorcycle an hour and a half north to Cinkassé. Cinkassé is situated on northern border of Togo and is the entry point for Burkino Fasso. This town is known for having more motorcycle shops than any other town in Togo except Lomé the capital situated at the opposite end of the country. I stopped and visited a number of the shops. All the motorcycles that are sold and assembled in this town arrive in a wooden crate as parts and need to be assembled. The young man pictured below said he usually assembles six motorcycles each day.
We also have a number of patients that come from Cinkassé and at times there have been entire van loads of patients that have come down. Typically, the people from Cinkassé are strict Muslims and many times have more money than the local people we see around Mango. Even today as we drove around a bit looking at all the motorcycle shops we talked for a while with a past patient who was happy to see us and thankful for the care he received at the Hospital of Hope.
This baby bird was brought by the house by one of our American nurses who knew we have an assortment of animals at any given time. There was some discussion on whether it should be kept as a pet or given to the snake. In the end, “kept as a pet” won and he was put in one of the spare cages where he lasted a few days…
While we don’t typically offer dental services, we do have a room for a dentist and when a dentist is willing to come and serve we always appreciate it. This dentist is from the northwest (Olympia, WA) and just spent two days with us but we were able to offer pediatric dentistry services to more than 70 children free of charge during those two days. For the long-term we need to make some equipment improvements and installations in order to better serve dental needs.
Most Saturdays this truck or one like it arrives at this small town not far from Mango and gets a load of cattle to take to Lomé. The cattle are from different owners but they all know to have their cattle here on Saturday if they’d like to sell them. All of the animals today were bulls so at times the scene resembled a rodeo.
While we try to get away for a moto ride most Saturday mornings when Melissa isn’t scheduled to cover the hospital, during rainy season sometimes our trips are more memorable. Here Melissa felt more comfortable letting me drive through on the moto and following me on foot as sometimes the water has washed out large holes that can be difficult to drive through.
Scott is currently responsible for taking the photos for employee badges. Here he’s taking Seidou’s photo. Technically Seidou is not an employee but rather a volunteer but he’s so helpful that we’re making him an official volunteer badge. Seidou has been helping at the hospital for a number of months with the hope that someday he’ll find employment with us. Jobs are so difficult to find in Togo that we’ve actually had to ask a few people to stop volunteering because we didn’t want to give them the impression we’d try to find a job for them.
There are so many occasions for misunderstandings and hurt feelings when many cultures come together to try to accomplish something. Tonight was a nice reminder of why we’re here. Togolese believers joined alongside our teammates to spend two hours praying and singing together with an emphasis on unity. There were probably 80 people that attended this Sunday evening session and it was very encouraging.
Today after our Saturday morning waffle breakfast I headed over to an installation service for the Cheif Canton. Togo is broke into 5 basic regions and in every region there are several préfectures (think regional governors), and under each préfecture there are many cantons. Mango is situated in the northern most region called the Région des Savanes. In our region there are 5 Préfectures and 69 cantons. Under the the canton are many villages with each village having a chief, and in the case of Mango, under the village chief there are chiefs from each of the 5 parts of the town. Resolution of family and civil disputes usually begins with the most local chief and only moves up if the situation cannot be resolved.
During the unrest in Mango last November a new Chief Canton was named (among other political leaders that were replaced) in hopes of calming the situation. Today was the day that he was officially presented. The festivities included traditional dances and speeches. We did have to take a break to let the rain pass by. I left my reserved seating during the storm and chose to watch from the second floor balcony of the school next door as my seat was under the large tarps that pretty much just gathered large pools of water until the weight became too much and the tarps would break free from their frames covering anyone below.
After the event was over I was invited to a meal with some other city leaders at the Préfet’s house and after the meal I went by the Chief Canton’s house to greet him and wish him well. What I thought would be a couple of hour event ended up taking most of my day but I found myself surprised to be enjoying the opportunity to be a part of this event. I’m thankful for the love God has given us for this town and these people. Life can be busy, hectic, difficult, and sad here but we are blessed to be a part of this town and these people.
Model home Mango style…
Today I took time while running errands to drop by and see the new home of one of our nurses. It was a pleasure to see the progress and pray with him that God would bless his family and new home. He hopes to move into this house in two weeks after the electricity is connected. Many of our nurses and other employees are in the process of buying property and building a small home now that they have a consistent paycheck.
The past few weeks Melissa has been the doctor on-call for Saturday to Sunday so we’ve not been able to take our Saturday post-breakfast moto ride. But today the schedules aligned and we had someone willing to watch the boys so that we got out and despite running into heavy rain part of the way, we did a big loop we enjoy that took us to the villages of Sadori, Padori, Faré, and Faréo among others. We spend so much time at the hospital that it’s nice to get out into the villages to see life and the change of seasons.
As we were leaving the hospital, we stopped to try to sort out a situation. This older gentleman had traveled hours to arrive at the hospital this week and be seen. He hadn’t come with much money and after being seen he purchased the medicines he needed and lost the rest of his money. While most people arrive at the hospital with someone, he was alone, didn’t know anyone, had no money, and seemed to have a hard time processing his situation. In this photo Melissa is sorting through is medicine to see if he’s taking the proper pills. Together with one of the hospital chaplains and a security guard a plan came together for the guard to keep some money and make sure he ate and took his medicine until Monday or Tuesday when one of the taxi drivers we trust heads in the direction this man came from so that we can send him back to his village. It’s situations like this where I thank God for the people he called to work here. This situation was only know and solved because of the diligent work of a kind guard and a chaplain willing to come in on a Saturday to try to talk with this patient in his language and show him God’s kindness.