YovoTogo Diary 2018 (Episode 1)

From October 13 to November 2, six members of the YovoTogo association are visiting the Saint Louis Orione center, nicknamed “the forgotten hearts heaven”, and located in Bombouaka.

Everyday, Internet connection permitting, they will share with you pictures and comments of the key moments of their “solidarity journey”.

Saturday, October 13.

We had a safe trip with the Brussels Airlines carrier. Isabelle, Marie-Paule and Claude, were flying from Nantes, when Françoise and Clémence came from Toulouse, and we all met in the transit zone of Brussels airport. We arrived around 4:45 PM at Lomé airport, where Kossivi was waiting to drove us to the “Saint Paul Providence Sisters” accommodations, located in Tokoin Witti, and to give us some local currencies (CFA Francs) and bus tickets for the trip to Bombouaka. Then we took possession of the Mitsubishi Pagero 4×4, that Claude and Marie-Paule bought remotely in order to become now more autonomous when they travel in the country.

Sunday October 14.

A crowing rooster wakes us up, and we eat our first African breakfast, before taking a walk along the sea side. Then Claude and Kossivi opt for some refreshing drinks on the beach, while the other members of the group decide to stroll around the lanes of Lomé. The smell of the gilled fish, the fruit merchants, the horns honking, the mothers braiding the little girls hairs, all these surroundings plunge us quickly into the atmosphere of the African culture. I discover the various market stands while having a little chat with the Togolese women.

Then we take the first lunch of our stay on the beach. Well, a bit spicy for my taste buds. To help our digestion, Marie Claude, Isabelle, Françoise and I go dipping our toes in the ocean, where several kids are already swimming. In the afternoon the beach is filling up with people and we leave to visit the fishing village, under the guidance of our friend Kossivi. The evening is now approaching, and we go back to the “Saint Paul Providence Centerfor a good night’s sleep before we hit the road of the North Togo tomorrow morning, in the direction of the Don Orione Center in Bombouaka. 

This first day together allowed me to better know Claude, Marie-Paule and Isabelle. I cannot wait to see the Don Orione children and to dive more into the heart of the African culture, while we carry out our different projects. But it is now sleep time !


Monday October 15.

This day was spent traveling to the Saint Louis Orione Center, the main objective of our association, which is located in Bombouaka, in the northern part of the country at a distance of 650 km (400 miles). Françoise, Isabelle and Clémence arrive at the bus station at 5h30, when Marie-Paule and Claude riding their new car started earlier because they want to stop over in Sokodé, at Yobé and Madeleine place, who are waiting them to share their lunch.

It took us more than 13 hours to cover the distance, with a road in rather good conditions, except few sectors where the lumbar spines are seriously shaken.

The bus passengers get only few short pauses, but the atmosphere on board, for sure, is very pleasant. The three Yovo (I.E. White in Éwé language) are seated in the back of the bus and fully appreciate the beauty of the various landscapes seen during our journey across the Togo.

But aboard the car, Claude and Marie-Paule are facing operating problems. Dirt particles in the fuel cause misfires, impacting the correct engine speed, which must be compensated by an extensive usage of the clutch. This part suffers a lot but hold up until the end of the trip.

We all arrive around 7 PM at Bombouaka. Inside the Center, the children and the teenagers are waiting for us and start singing touching welcome songs. We feel very tired by the travel, and after a diner taken together with the community staff, we take our appointed rooms and go directly to bed : tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday October 16.

Reunions for some people, discovery for others. The morning is devoted to the visit of the different areas of the Center, like the administration, the medical pole, the social service, the disabled children and teenagers lodging, the carpentry, welding and prosthetic workshops etc.

We have the visit of Arsène Tindame et Martine Somoko from the Rotary Club of TandjouaréDapaong, and from which Claude is also a member. Together we discover the ongoing production of 355 table-benches, under the supervision Jules, the master of the carpentry workshop. These furnitures are intended to equip four schools isolated in the bush. It is a Rotary project, which, together with the supply of the official Togolese scholar documentation, and the restoration of three wells, will dramatically improve the study conditions of almost 1000 students.

A lot of time spent with the children, among which the well known elders, Ekwé, Wampag, Jean, Thomas, Sadjo, Douty, etc. either in the refectory during the meals, or in the games room, or in the evening by helping them with their home work.

From the hardware side, the Pajero car clutch did not survive the abuses it suffered during yesterday trip and the local mechanic takes charge of the disk replacement and the fuel pump cleaning.

Extracts from : Voyage de solidarité 2018 de nos amis de YovoTogo

Image Source : YovoTogo