Saturday, 21 April 2018

Togo: A Special Escort

Most of our distributions have been in the central region of Togo, a 2-3 hour drive north of the capital city of Lomé. Once we turned off the main road this morning, the people we passed seemed reserved compared to other drives, with only one person waving to our van. Trepidation set in. But as we neared a school that was the site of a SCAW distribution last year, we saw children along the road wearing last year’s t-shirt and skirts or shorts. Their smiles and waves were heartwarming, reminding us all of the value of a bedkit to each child. One boy even ran alongside our van until we got to the school. A very special escort!

The truck that transports the bedkits was delayed again. While we waited, our team went to work entertaining the children. Barb and I blew bubbles, Ian and Stuart repeated their harmonica routine then started a soccer match which Ricki videotaped, Bill and Barb taught the children to throw and catch a Frisbee, and Julie photographed the children and showed them their image. 

At first some of the children were too timid to blow the bubbles but eventually they all made an attempt. I tried to make sure they all had a turn. I felt like the Pied Piper, surrounded by the youngest children who followed me (or the bubbles) wherever I went. A man tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to go over to the tree that was shading some of the parents. The parents wanted a turn as well, and the women giggled and tried to pop the bubbles just like the children. Even a small toddler on her mother’s back gave bubbles a try. 

I had the privilege of photographing all 500 children. All those smiling playful children turned serious when it was their turn to smile for the camera. We had to coax the smiles out of the first few, but by the time it was the older children’s’ turn, their giggles preceded the photo. Maybe we were all a bit giddy from the heat, but it sure was fun to capture their wonderful smiles.

On the drive back to the main road, we saw lots of children carrying their bedkit home. Every one of them stopped and waved, their smiles as wide as could be. Quite a change from our morning reception. Another 500 children will be having a better sleep tonight, hopefully with a smile of their face

Julie for Team Togo 2018
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