Monday, July 20, 2009
Reflections from Dad
“Laura, Laura, Laura!” Wherever we went in Datcha, people in Laura’s village were constantly shouting out her name and greetings. It was clear she had already made connections with the people of her village. What was Togo and West Africa like? I really didn’t know what to expect. I was overwhelmed with how little the Togolese people had but how content they were. The children were able to have fun with the simplest things such as an old stick, an old shoe or a bicycle rim. In spite of their very simple life, they seemed to be enjoying it. Life in Togo is simple. Up with the sun and down with the sun and working hard in between. Some of the children attend school but then have a three hour break from 12:00 to 3:00 pm in the in afternoon, which is during the heat of the day. All the children help work in the fields where they are growing just enough to support their families. I had the opportunity to sample some of the local cuisine such as roasted insects, rat meat and the local beer which was warm and sour. Everywhere we went we either walked or rode a bike. Most of the people there don’t even have bike and so they have to walk everywhere. It is nothing for the children to walk 1 to 2 hours one way to go to school.I had the opportunity to participate in some of Laura’s projects such as working with a group of young people from the village in cleaning up their village. This group is committed to improving life in Datcha. I also was able to attend some of the classes Laura was teaching. The schools there would be anywhere from 60 to 80 children per classroom. They were much more respectful than children in our classrooms. I saw the soccer team she helps coach and even had the opportunity to do some soccer officiating over there. Life is simple for Laura, but she is healthy and most days enjoying her work. She has been able to establish many relationships and there was a constant stream of young people visiting her at her home at all hours of the day and night. Her home consisted of 3 rooms, which was roomy by Togolese standards and there were always sheep and goats wandering through her yard. The shower accommodations consisted of a bucket with a cup. One of the most important things that Laura is accomplishing is teaching them about life in the US and that it is not as they have seemed to have formed in their minds. Just because we have more things doesn’t mean that we are happier. It was very good to see Laura and the work she is doing. Please keep her in her prayers and if you have the opportunity, I would definitely go visit her.