We were only there briefly, although our visit had been carefully planned over a long period of time. This time the German TV channel SWR came with us too. Rebekka Plies, who is a journalist, spent four very intensive days with us and was right there to see what our work there involves.
We met up with Marc’s friend Blaise to pay visits to the barefoot footballers and the physically disabled skateballer group. There we were able to give the children, young people and skateballers all the items that the football clubs, schools and kindergartens had collected for them.
Football boots and shirts for the barefoot footballers
Sand pitch in the Katanga slums
Christian football team in a suburb of Lomé
Up-and-coming juniors from Katanga slum
Footballers from an orphanage (left) and another team from the slum (right)
Protective gear, balls and team shirts for physically disabled skateballers
Before we left we spent some of the money that had been donated on protective kit for the skateballers, to make playing their beloved sport safer for them. Doing this made us realise just how valuable skateball is and how much it means to these skateballers, some of whom are severely disabled and living on the margins of the very poorest sectors of society.
They were delighted and very grateful to be given these protectors, balls and shirts. The disabled players were really happy that something had been done specifically for them, and thanked us again and again for the gifts and for our visit. The German Embassy in Lomé expressed interest in our project too. And here Seelevel would like to thank the German Embassy, and in particular Mrs Judith Wilke, for taking an interest and for offering to look at working with us. She even agreed to the skateballers’ request to do the kick-off, despite the fact that she was wearing ladies’ summer shoes!
Skateball match in Tokoin (Amoutieve)
Some of the players wearing their new team shirts and Judith Wilke representing the German Embassy
Two more places we found particularly affecting!
One was Mama Charity’s Orphanage, which was set up in 2003 by the FSU, the Secours Universel Foundation.
On our first visit we took clothes, children’s football boots and wooden toys. 59 children between the ages of 2 and 17 live in a half-finished building. There are two very small dormitories, one for the boys, one for the girls. There are no beds. About 30 children of all ages sleep in each room in tight rows on the floor, on only worn, thin sports mattresses.
Some of the children have simply been abandoned. Often, too, they are brought to Mama Charity because their parents have died in the slums of one of the many infectious diseases. Terrible events in the lives of the poorest of the poor! But despite all these negative circumstances, you cannot help feeling the positive energy in this orphanage. Most of this is down to Mama Charity, whose smile is as infectious as her children are affectionate and friendly. A perfect project for us! With her total commitment to the orphans of Lomé, Mama Charity offers the hope of a better life and a life lived with dignity. There are all sorts of practical ways in which we could help. Watch this space…
The other was the Katanga Infirmary, in the middle of a big and chaotic slum near the port on the edge of town, for the most part inhabited by fishermen from surrounding areas who end up stranded in Lomé with no prospects of any sort. The infirmary is run by Damien Nofodi, a general practitioner, and two nurses, who try to alleviate suffering in the worst possible circumstances. A pretty well hopeless battle as things stand.
The Infirmary has pretty much nothing that it needs. 3 medics, cupboards empty of supplies, and two shoe-boxes of medicines for thousands of people who have no money to pay for live-saving treatment. It sounds as absurd as it really is!