Home            About Us            Newsletters            Support Us            Links            Contact Us

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gape Aloyi Village Visit

Recently we had the privilege of visiting the village Gape Aloyi. It's quite a long story how we have come in contact with a village that is quite remote and not something you would come across on a leisurely drive out in the country. During our time here we have come to know a French family, through the Navy, who are living in Togo. After an evening at their house we learnt of Gape Aloyi, a village that they had inherited from their predecessor but have also come to love and adopt as their own. The great thing about this village is that they want to make things work. An NGO had started building a Dispensary clinic, but left before it was finished taking the money with them. The village worked together and finished it off. They hired their own nurse and pay the wages between themselves. Often Government paid nurses are unreliable, if they don't get paid by the government they don't turn up. Money has also been raised and wells have been installed. Now they need a school.
To help fund this we attended a fundraising cheese event. The cheese was even flown in from France, along with the cheese maker. For us, the taste of the cheese in our mouths was amazing after not having quality cheese for ages and it was a good opportunity to meet more of the vast ex-pat community that lives here in Lome.
By now we were also getting enthusiastic for this village and wanted to see if there was anyway Mercy Ships could help. So we started on our 2-3 hours drive up north, along with our friends, the Jacobsen family, to make a visit.
(Alisia and Josh Jacobsen getting ready for a bumpy ride in the back of a landrover)
For this occasion Tim was one of the VIP guests, along with another French lady who had helped raise funds through the cheese event, so a grand ceremony was arranged on their behalf. On the way you soon knew you were getting off the beaten track as concrete houses turned to mud brick houses with naked kids and goats running around. Somehow life is a lot calmer and slower paced compared to the fast paced, technological world that we ourselves live in. We knew we were approaching Gape Aloyi when we saw our escort of motorbikes waiting to drive us in. We were welcomed with groups dancing and singing and excited at our arrival. We almost felt embarrassed that they would put on such a display for just us. We were met with a huge ornate umbrella with the village chief and his entourage standing beneath it.
Now for some of the rituals you might need a strong stomach to read this. The village priest first offered a drink which he spilt on the ground (if you were to drink it you would definitely need a strong stomach!).
Then they offered a live goat. You can see him standing in the welcoming entourage picture, awaiting his fate. They proceeded to cut the goats neck and spill the blood on the ground (we'll spare you the pictures-email us if you really must see them!) and then they hauled it off to cook ready for lunch. We were then led to a covered area where the women put on a great display of dancing and Tim was taken away to be "robed and crowned". The cloth is an expensive cloth, made only by virgin men and takes a lot of work, something we will treasure. We followed with speeches and fortunately there was a man in the village who had studied in Ghana and could speak English, so he was able to translate Tim's speech into the local language. Nathanael was amazing and very flexible during this time, whilst chomping on the ritz crackers that we had fortunately stuffed into our bag, as a last resort and then on the spot training on how to go to the toilet in a bush without a potty! We then followed on to have a tour of the dispensary clinic. The nurse there was doing his best with the resources he had available. Whilst we were there a lady was in labour with twins, but they said "oh it's a while yet". But when we returned to drop off some medical supplies that we had brought to give to them, she had just delivered them and they even brought them out for us to see within minutes of them breathing in their new African air. Two beautiful baby boys. Twins are very popular in this area, we will write about that in a separate post. It was nice to interact with some of the kids and mothers. They loved having their photo taken and when you showed it to them on the camera they would laugh out loud with delight.
We continued to see the site where they plan to build the school. As you can see their present school classrooms are just 4 shelters with a chalkboard at the end. They currently have 240 children and their dream is to raise money to build a proper school. We hope to be a small part of the dream. The children sang songs, giving us a warm welcome. By the end of this the goat was calling and was cooked and ready to eat. We sat down to a wonderful generous meal of goat meat, some kind of fu-fu and spaghetti noodles, followed by green oranges and banana's which tasted wonderful.
We parted, handing over gifts of a Mercy Ships T-shirt and Cap to the chief, he presented us with the left over, back end of the goat (RAW!) and a yam, along with the robe and crown worn by Tim.....they truly blessed us with so much when they have so little.
But it doesn't stop there; we had one more stop to make on the way back, to the chief's brother. His brother owned a small distillery for making palm wine. It's made from the palm tree and can blow your head of when you taste it.
His brother had his own little business making it and then a forest plantation of teak trees at the back growing for his "retirement". Quite a little enterprise! He, again, was very generous and presented us all with a bottle of palm wine (in volvic bottles).
Nathanael, on the other hand, just enjoyed dancing and playing in the dirt.
So there you have it, a taste of Togo life.......fancy living here?


Grandpa and Grandma Wargo said...

Greetings Tretheway Clan!
Captain, you cut quite a regal look in your new duds! Glad to hear all is well. I see that it is in the 80's today, please send some of that up our way.
GBY Steve & Maureen Wargo

Anonymous said...

I love the story and the pictures of your visit to Gape Aloyi. Thanks for sharing so much great information on your blog!