The heavens opened as we pulled away from home base today and we drove for hours in a moderate to heavy rain. The depth of the pools of water in the clay roads was difficult to gauge, but our driver did a fabulous job of avoiding problems until we plowed into a mystery hole that blew out our tire. It was replaced in record time and we drove into the school not too far behind schedule.
We were greeted by some very energetic children who did not let the rain dampen their enthusiasm. There were drums beating and several women who welcomed us with dance.
We set up for pictures in one of the classrooms because the rain was still coming down as we started the distribution. About 20 minutes later we were able to move outdoors when the weather cleared. For the first time, the temperature was moderate and we were lucky enough to have continuous breezes. What a treat!
Our trip back to Lome was more than a little exciting. The road was closed because the President of Togo was visiting a building to honor its opening. We were directed to a detour that headed directly into a stand of trees with the skinniest road possible down the middle. We bumped down to the end of the road and turned right … and realized we were the last in a very long line of cars that was going nowhere. As it turns out, two lanes of traffic were trying to traverse a single-lane road, which was decorated on either side with deep trenches. We inched our way along, thanks to some masterful traffic cop maneuvers by Dan and the boys.
On our way to today’s distribution -- our last -- we discussed our mixed feelings as we approached the school. We were happy to complete our task (the delivery of 5,000 bedkits!!!), but sad to see the story end. Each one of us has had the amazing opportunity to step out of our conventional lives (student, scientist, computer guy, attorney, and retiree) and take on the role of caretaker to those in need. It is amazing to consider that we have brought comfort to 5,000 children and have, by virtue of the mosquito net in the bedkit, reduced by one=third the chance that those children will be infected with malaria (8 hours of sleeping in a 24 hour day).
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the generosity of the donors to SCAW. We are indeed grateful that you gave us the tools to do some good here in Togo. And we could never have been as efficient and successful as we were without the amazing coordination of Laurent and his AED team. Thank you, Laurent, for your partnership and guidance. Thank you also to Dosseh, Segnon and Messenh, who never let us out of their sight for one minute and to Bill, who prepared wonderful meals for us and negotiated vigorously for each of us in the marketplace. (You have not experienced life until you have sat in a van with a ‘money changer’ and watched the back and forth on the exchange rate first hand!).
Most of all, thank you, Togo, for being so friendly and receptive to strangers in your midst.
Eleanor Uddo for
The 2012 Togolese Rock Stars
p.s.: Stock up on Tide … we are heading home!
Click here to see the photos in the Togo 2012 Photo Album.
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