Monday, 24 April 2017

Togo: Goodbye and Thank You Togo!

Team Togo 2017 successfully handed out 5,000 bedkits with the help of our Togolese OVPs during the period 10 - 21 April 2017. The SCAW Travelling Volunteers made many new friends among the hard-working OVPs. They were always the first in and the last ones out of each distribution - we could not have done it without them. After completing the final distribution in Zomayi, Togo, the SCAW Travelling Volunteers and the OVPS held a celebration at Casa Blanca, which also served as a farewell party for us. Our Togolese OVPs sang a song of thanks and performed a traditional dance in our honour just prior to our departure to the Lome International Airport. It was hard to say goodbye to our good friends, but we hope to stay in touch with them. 

The SCAW Travelling Volunteers and our Overseas Volunteer Partners, along with last 10 of the 5,000 children who received a bedkit during their distributions in Togo.  

The children gather at the team's van to say 'merci' and 'aurevoir' as we get ready to depart Zomayi after handing out the last 500 bedkits to the deserving children in this area. 
Togolese children waiting to receive their SCAW bedkit.

Team Togo 2017
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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Togo: A Distribution Day! Une Journée De Distribution! (Updated)

A music and dance greeting on our arrival! 

Un accueil à notre arrivée avec la musique et la danse!

Chaque jour nous parlons à quelques enfants pour apprendre des détails de leurs vies.

Everyday we interview some students to learn about their daily lives. 
After their photo for the donors, the children line up to receive their bed kits. 

Après leur photo pour les donateurs, les enfants se mettent en ligne pour recevoir leur kit.
First of all their back pack. 

D'abord leur sac à dos.
Ensuite leur nouveau matelas!

Then their new mattress! 
Here is our distribution area in front of the school. 

Voici notre site de distribution devant l'école.

Hélène Hyde & Joy Squire-Smith for Team Togo 2017
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Monday, 17 April 2017

Togo: Along The Way We Saw?

Along the way to our distribution today in Bedjeme we saw many gardens. A couple of examples of what we saw planted were yams, and cotton.

Along the way we encountered a Togolese pothole which was large even by Canadian standards. It took up half the road! Our driver skillfully maneuvered over it and brought us to our destination.

At the site we were greeted by the locals playing percussion instruments to a Togolese beat leading us to the waiting, cheering children.  The children sang their anthem and we sang ours.

Towards the end of the distribution, one of the girls waiting to get her picture taken became ill.  We found out she was in the early stages of malaria. Fortunately she was able to get her kit.  Given that this is an area of high incidence of malaria, the mosquito nets in the SCAW kits will be especially valuable.

Team Togo 2017
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Togo: Our Wonderful Overseas Volunteer Partners!

The SCAW team would not be able to conduct the distributions of the bedkits in Togo without the amazing work that Laurent and Gladys Dekalikan and their dedicated team of 40 Togolese Overseas Volunteer Partners (OVPs). Laurent and Gladys ensure that all of the items and materials for the bedkits are ordered well in advance and are ready for the distributions. When we arrived, we were met at the airport by them, along with our driver Menseh and Laurent's nephews - Messenh and Segnon. (See picture of van with Menseh and Messenh in it). 

On each of the distributions, there are at least 20 of the Team Togo OVPs to assist us. They usually arrive at the site 2 - 3 hours before we get there to prepare the site, unload the backpacks and mattresses in secure rooms near the exit where the children leave the site, and welcome the children who arrive an hour or two before the distribution is scheduled to start. For the children, this is a festival day - a day that they will be receiving a very valuable 'gift' - many thanks to our donors. When we arrive, Laurent gives us a tour of the distribution site and helps us show the children the items in the bedkits before they sing the Togolese National Anthem for us. Our team reciprocates by singing O Canada in French to the joyous applause of everyone present. 

During the distributions, each of the OVPs has a job to do, which makes the process effortless on our part. The OVP team has been doing this on behalf of SCAW for many years. They said that it is heart warming for them to be able to help the children of Togo in this way. 

They continue to be hospitable when get back to Lome by showing us the sites of this city of 1.2 million in our spare time. They have shown us the Place d'Independence (see picture) near the newest Togo parliament building in Lome, among other sites.

The members of the SCAW Travelling Volunteer team have been so blessed to have Laurent and Gladys and their team to work with in Togo. Thank you one and all. 

Team Togo 2017
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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Togo: Happy Easter! Joyeuses Pâques!

Happy Easter! Joyeuses Pâques! 

Some of our Team went to St Michaels church this morning .  Quelques membres de notre équipe sont allés à l'église St Michel ce matin. 

We saw everyone in their Sunday best. Nous avons vu tout le monde bien habillé avec les beaux vêtements de dimanche. 

The children participated in the mass. Les enfants ont participé dans la messe. There was lots of singing and music 🎶. Il y avait beaucoup de chants et de musique. 

This afternoon we are off for a tour around Lomé. Cet après-midi nous allons partir pour une excursion à Lomé.

Joy Squire-Smith for 
Team Togo 2017
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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Togo: Our Good Friday

Despite being cloudy all day, the sunny smiles on the faces of the children, brightened the day. 
For the 500 children of Agbessia, Togo and surrounding area, today was a 'Great' Friday.

Today is Good Friday. As we were driving home from our distribution we observed many church processions along the roadway.  Some with large crowds others with just a few villagers. This  picture was taken in Keve, a town north of Lome. It is of a Good Friday procession of over 300 people, walking from the local park along a major highway to the church. The police were directing traffic, thank goodness. 

This girl received a bedkit today. She walked about 1 km back to her mother's fruit and vegetable stand after the distribution. Not only were they selling avocados, palm nuts, and bananas. but also the biggest snails that we have ever seen. 

Helene loved visiting the Artisanal Atelier in Abgessia after today's distribution. It is home to dozens of Togolese artisans who make pottery, carve wood, paint pictures, make designer fabrics and musical instruments. Helene bought a Togolese 'Coro' (similar to a really fancy banjo) at the Artisan's Atelier. The maker of the instrument sold it directly to her and explained how her son should play it. 

Team Togo on a unique tree after today's distribution. 

Team Togo 2017
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Friday, 14 April 2017

Togo: A New Area for the Team!

We drove straight north from Lome today on one of its main roads to reach our distribution. When we turned east, we were on a newly paved highway, making very good time. Unfortunately, the road has not been paved all the way yet, so later we bounced along a dirt trail beside the road bed that had been prepared for the new extension until we reached the school where the children were gathered. The road construction is being funded by China, which the locals appreciate.

The Togo country side is a wonderful green with thick vegetation where the land has not been cleared for the planting of crops such as corn or with plantations of plantain. There were some special sites today as we saw many thousands of bats flying in a forested area near the new road, a number of ox carts, and lizard – sights considered normal by our OVP co-workers.

Our driver pointed out the collections of mud huts with the thatched roofs in the forests along the roads. He informed us that these 'villages' belonged to the Togolese who came down from the northern part of the country to find work in construction or in agriculture. They then return home in the rainy season. 

The SCAW team has completed its fourth distribution successfully with the assistance of our very capable Overseas Volunteer Partners. Will be doing one again tomorrow, Good Friday, before taking the weekend off to relax as well as doing some of the things that the team members want to do, including celebrating Easter. 

From Sunny Togo - your SCAW team. 
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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Togo: The People, Places, Sights and Sounds of Togo!

Team Togo is enjoying the people, places, sights and sounds of this beautiful country. The children are amazing and very appreciative of the opportunity to receive a bedkit. At today's distribution we were greeted by 10 students performing a traditional Togolese dance to the beat of the accompanying drums. 

In this picture from the start of yesterday's distribution, all of the children lined up patiently waiting to come forward to have their picture taken. The 2nd is a picture of the children walking home from the today's distribution site. The picture was taken about a kilometre away from the site and we saw the furthest ones about 3 kms away as they turned off the road to walk down a path through the jungle to their village. The happy waves and smiles that we received from them as we passed them on the road have made being here so much more worthwhile. 

The next picture is of 10 foot tall ant hill in one of the villages that we visited near the distribution site. There are lots of ant hills around like it, and one even had a tree growing out of it. 

There is a picture with our team at a waterfall near the place where we did the distributions today. We drove up the hillside and then walked down into a glen near the falls and had our lunch there. It was so cool and refreshing near the fall while we were shaded from the sun. Once we climbed the steps back up to the van, the heat hit us like a ton of bricks. We sure do go through lots of drinking water in order not to be over powered by the heat and humidity. 

The final picture is of an open air weaving shop where five young people were hand weaving scarves with traditional Togolese patterns in them. The one young man's hands and feet were moving so fast, that we could see the pattern emerging as he fed the shuttles through the loom. Some members of the team bought scarves to take home as souvenirs of the trip. The young people were glad to have made some money today. 

We are off to a new area tomorrow, but are looking forward to the trip and working with our Overseas Volunteer Partners. 

Bill Sergeant for Team Togo 2017
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Togo: Our Donors!

Je descends du véhicule pour notre deuxième jour de distribution. Devant moi il y a 500 enfants qui nous regardent avec anticipation, habillés des nouveaux t-shirts bien colorés. 

As we get out of our vehicle in Kopégan, on our second day of distribution we see standing patiently in front of us 500 excited children.

Nous, les bénévoles sommes venus au Togo pour représenter nos donateurs qui ont été si généreux. Ces enfants se lèvent entre 4 et 5 heures du matin pour balayer le sol et chercher de l'eau du ruisseau avant de se rendre à l'école. Dans le kit se trouve un matelas et une moustiquaire qui leur permettront de dormir plus confortablement plutôt que sur le sol d'argile. Aussi, ils sont fiers de leurs nouveaux vêtements, les cahiers et toutes les choses scolaires dans le nouveau sac à dos. 

We, the SCAW volunteers are here in Togo to represent our wonderful donors who have been so generous.  These children get up between 4 and 5 o'clock in the morning to sweep the dirt floors and fetch water from the nearest stream before walking to school.  This year, included in the bedkit are a mattress and a mosquito net which will allow them to sleep more comfortably than on the clay earth. The children are so proud of their new clothes, exercise books and their new backpacks. 

Ce kit est un grand cadeau qui améliorera leur vie à partir d'aujourd'hui.

This kit is a great present that will enrich their lives from this day on.

Thank you donors!
Hélène pour Equipe Togo, 2017
Hélène for SCAW Togo 2017
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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Togo: First Distribution

After an early breakfast, we headed our for our first distribution - 140  km north.  Along the way, we passed Togo's highest mountain peak, some impressive termite hills and a teak plantation.

We arrived at Atchanvé where we were greeted warmly by the students of four local schools.  The distribution of 500 bedkits went smoothly with the help of our phenomenal overseas volunteers.

Team Togo 2017
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Togo: Our First 24 Hours

The Togo team arrived safely on Saturday night and were met by our overseas partners.

We awoke early Sunday morning to the rhythmic beating of drums as a Palm Sunday procession marched by our residence.

We walked through the colourful local market with our cook; stocking up our food supply for the coming week.

We spent the afternoon with our overseas partner doing our predistribution meeting; reviewing the bedkit contents and discussing our schedule.

Early to bed tonight  looking forward to out first distribution early Monday morning.

Team Togo 2017
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Togo: Pre-Distribution Meeting

The SCAW Travelling Volunteers met with Laurent and Gladys Dekalikan, our OVPs (Overseas Volunteer Partners), for the Togo pre-distribution meeting on Sunday afternoon. They have everything so well organized for our distributions, for which we are truly grateful. We are looking forward to the 10 distributions over the next two weeks. 

Meeting with OVPs

Shopping at the Market

Team Togo 2017
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Friday, 7 April 2017

Togo: Ready To Go!!

SCAW's Team Togo are in the starting blocks and looking forward to meeting our Overseas Volunteer Partners from Action Enfance et Developpement. After months of preparation, Bill, Jean Pierre, Wanda, Joy, Hélène and Brenda are ready to deliver 5,000 bedkits to the children of Togo along with some much needed first aid and hygiene kits. More to follow in the coming days.

Bill Sergeant, Team Leader
Team Togo 2017
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Philippines: Final Day

Today we completed the last distribution of bedkits. It was so bittersweet to take the last photo and hand out the final kit.

All 16 distributions went very smoothly thanks to the organization and support of the SCAW Philippines team.  They have not only been there for us in every distribution... They have hosted and entertained us throughout and have provided us with a unique Philippines experience. Salamat po!

Also thanks to everyone at home in Canada who donated bedkits, clothing, toothbrushes and toothpaste and many other items for us to pass along where needed.

Lastly thanks to all the children who made this so worthwhile. From loud cheers upon our arrival at each site,  many song and dance performances, shy thank yous, and a multitude of smiles , it will all be cherished and remembered.

Team Philippines 2017
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Thursday, 6 April 2017

Philippines: Past Recipients!

As we arrived at our distribution site we were enthusiastically greeted by a father whose son had received a bedkit two years ago.  He had expected to see the SCAW volunteer who he had met that year in order to thank him again.  We were able to interview him and record this video where he expressed his appreciation for Richard and SCAW and his thankfulness for the items his son had received.  This was very important to him as he decided to miss work in order to come and see us.

Meeting these two individuals and hearing what they had to say energized us for our distribution that was just about to begin.  As we continued to distribute 300 bedkits to the waiting children we were reassured that we were making a difference in their lives.  Tomorrow is our last distribution day.  We will face it with mixed emotions, happy to have made a difference in the lives of 5000 children and sad to see this amazing experience come to an end.  

Team Philippines 2017
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Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Philippines: Importance of a Bedkit!

Children and parent(s) travel from local communities either by walking, recycle, or jeepneys to receive their gift from the SCAW donor. When visiting homes, conducting interviews and seeing the beautiful smiles on all the children’s faces it is obvious that this precious gift is very important to the child and family. 

We were fortunate this morning to meet two past recipients who had received bedkits 15 years ago. We had many questions to ask them about where they are living, school and daily life as well as the importance of the bedkit that they had received.  We were pleased to hear that both young men are attending university. They told us that they remembered the sleeping mat, school supplies, and to our surprise that one of the young men is still using the mosquito net to this day. 

The importance of the bedkiit was again demonstrated at today’s distribution. Children from five indigenous tribes travelled from the mountain region with many walking or riding in trucks for several hours. 

In their small mountain homes they have no electricity or running water. Water is trucked in and is purchased at 2 pesos a pail. The average family uses 12 -15 pails a day. These recipients have many hardships. For example these tribes often have to rebuild their homes on a yearly basis because the homes are washed away down the mountainside during the rainy season. 

Receiving a bedkit today was a very important event for each child and family. 

The entire Canadian and Philippine SCAW team was treated to a ceremonial dance performance. 

Team Philippines 2017
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