Sunday, 28 February 2010

What goes on around us?

Here is a short video showing a ship on the other side of our dock unloading fertilizer, which is then bagged up on the dock and transferred to local lorries

Friday, 26 February 2010

'word definition' themed dress up day

This was the hardest dress up day yet, give us pirates or twins anyday. Anyway - see if you have any ideas what words our boys are...

Tommy: foresight
Tom: headquarters
Josh: underdog

Toms teacher was one of my fav's:

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Surgery has started!

Finally the day we have been waiting for - surgery has started! Patient screening is being done over 30 sessions this year rather than the large scale type we did in Benin last year. With the national elections being so close (4th March) we are not able to have large crowds gathering, but this different method is going pretty well. After a few screening days we have patients booked in and some are already here and recovering from their surgery today.

Please remember our hospital staff - we have many new staff being trained by the more long term crew, we have new day volunteers who are trying to learn what to do and translate for us and a different set up here with the multiple screenings (and I'm sure all sorts of other challenges that we are not really aware of).

for pics from screenings so far

Catch up with the school newspaper

The High School Academy students are producing an online school newspaper in the form of a blog.

Check out boxshipnews for the latest news, views and reviews.

(A link has also been added to our list of the links on the right if you want to visit in future)


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

less toothache in Togo

The last week has seen the setting up of the dental clinic and now some short term dentists are here to support the long term dental team. They are keen to get going and as some patients have already been screened they will be starting straight away. For more info and great pics of the new and very nice dental facilities click on these blogs:

Steph is a friend of ours from home working as a medical technician helped with set up:

Gini is the new Dental Co-ordinator:

Dag is the Chief Dental Officer:

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Tom can swim!

After a teacher training day on Friday it was good to get out for a change of scenery yesterday. After heading towards Benin last week we headed towards Lome and had a drive round to get our bearings (and to stop at a dodgy knockoff football shirt stall where Sam felt it necessary to add Cameroon to his collection of shirts - well we have sort of been there - we sat on a air-bus on an airport runway - does that count?).

One nice thing we have discovered about Togo is that there are a good few pools to choose from within close proximity of the ship and not generally costing an arm and a leg. So we headed to one (a different one to the one that turned our clothes green) and had a day of swimming and relaxing. We drove past a sign telling us it was 37 degrees out (about 10am) so by the time we got to a pool it was pretty hot for sitting around. If your sun lounger was in the sun it was pretty uncomfortable actually sitting on it (although the lizard didn't mind)! We spent most of the day in the water watching the boys have fun and found it good to have a break from the ship.

Tom spent a while jumping in near the steps and swimming to them, generally splashing everyone in sight but gradually getting more confident. We didn't expect him to swim further than he could manage on one breath as he has found breathing at the same time really hard, but then he just did it. Across the pool, and then again and again as he was so proud of himself. And we are really proud of him!

Joshua put himself to bed last night, when I went to see what he was doing he was lying on the bed, sheet over him and with bleary eyes said 'I am tired, can I go to sleep?'. To be honest it didn't look like 'no' was an option, he may have been before I left the room.

A nice relaxing pool

What outing would be complete without Tommy taking pics of wildlife.
A lizard that wants to borrow the sun lounger

Josh our little bird (his term not mine), he loves to be thrown or to jump and go underwater

Tom our little swimmer :-)
Here's the video Tom requested for Nanny!

the little green bus...

...came by Friday morning to collect Mums and little ones for an outing while the teachers had a training day. We travelled African style - see how many you can fit in a 15 seater mini-bus (answer 29 plus the driver) but only for about five minutes! The German run Seaman's mission has facilities just a couple of minutes outside the port with a small pool and area for sitting and getting drinks/food. They aim to bring God's love to seamen and their families - the bus comes into the port each night to collect anyone that wants a change of scenery and to relax. Oh it seems to be normal to have some kind of strange pets at the pools here, the pool last week had a crocodile and the seamans misson had some monkeys! Our little sea men had a great time playing with their friends in the pool and we were very grateful for them coming to drive us there in the little green bus, that bit was almost as fun as the swimming for Josh :-)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

pancakes again

It is strange that it takes something like pancake day to make us realise that we have been here over a year now! Being able to remember back to cooking pancakes for the Brits on board last Shrove Tuesday and now having been there and done it again. I hope everyone back home enjoyed their pancakes too, I wonder how many of you got to sing 'God save the Queen' while eating them though? I don't recall doing that before coming to the Ship!!

I love pancakes, with or without the national anthem :-)

Sunday, 14 February 2010

wildlife spotting

We were sat on the dock tonight, having taken our deck chairs out for a nice quiet sit and chat while the children run around with their friends. Every few minutes the peace would be interupted by someone who will remain nameless shouting 'rat, rat, rat' ;-) We pondered whether we could paintball them to count them and see it
was the same rats reappearing. Then it got a little too friendly when it was decided to start naming them. Yuk.

Then we heard the boys had been part of a 'kill the cockroach' session. Nice.

So who is coming to visit this year? We are open to visitors, just not the furry or creepy crawlie type :-)

Saturday, 13 February 2010

first impressions of Togo

Today was another blackout day. A dark, hot ship lacking sucking toilets didn't appeal too much so we, and most of the rest of the crew headed out. We really appreciate those people who stayed and worked hard to clean the engine coolers in the heat, it means that hopefully we won't need another blackout until we are ready to leave Togo and the patients are not on board.

We went out, on the road back to Benin in search of somewhere to swim. In some ways Togo is similar to Benin, but thankfully there are far less motorbikes as taxis here are cars. Still some zemis though and most did not seem to have much sense of what is safe as they drove on the wrong side of the road and down pavements with no helmets. The road was not in bad condition, although the drivers still see it as optional- if traffic slows they try and jump the queue by driving on the sand next to the road and then push their way back in. It is strange how normal that all is now.

We saw very similar looking market stalls with bread and fruit, but much more evidence of small scale market gardening with people growing things in very neat rows and watering them as we passed by. Maybe it was just where we didn't see it in Benin as we are a little more out of the city here.

We were really pleased to discover that there are hotels here, mostly on the beach with pools that you can pay to swim at. We went to one with 8 or so other families today which had a play area as well! Seriously exciting stuff - a playground in Africa! And soap in the bathroom :-) It was a slight shame that the water has turned all our swim wear green. I am waiting for the laundry to to see if green swim wear is a permanent feature.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

it is all starting..

We have had a mum and baby needing us already and the dental team have been to check out the new clinic facilities lined up for us to use:

The hospital is being unpacked and cleaned. The news is out in Togo that we are here so people know where and when to find us to be screened. We have day volunteer interviews next week ready to organise who will be translators or working in other areas in the ship alongside crew. Joshua really wants to know where the people are that we are here to help that we have been talking about. Soon we will meet them which is exciting!

The turtle

I wrote on my facebook status a few days ago that we had seen whales, dolphins, porpoises, flying beautiful sunsets and plenty of ocean...but really wanted to see a turtle while we were sailing. Well it waited long enough - but technically we were still sailing.

Here (s)he is.


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Our new view

The second picture is what we can see directly out of the window -the row of blue containers that the port are very speedily putting into position . They are making a container wall around us, these containers were put here within minutes of us arriving and there are more out of sight further down the dock. Already the top picture looks a bit different as they have moved the concrete hoppers and continued the container wall past where the bus is on the left side of the picture up the dock the other way too. 

Beauty is not everything and at least there should be space to play on the dock this year without fear of being run over which is a big plus for us. And having a slightly private area might mean we see less people spending a penny outside our window than in Benin! 

Is that Togo? Is that Togo?

Joshua kept asking - are those rocks Togo? Is that ship in Togo? Is that dock Togo?

Tom getting ready for arriving with his flag of Togo
Most of the nursery/preschool boys making faces after watching the pilot board

Oh yes we are IN TOGO!!!

The tug says we are in Lome, Togo and there are some crew members waving from it!

This is our berth on the right, just a little further than where the people are standing

We were welcomed by a great crowd on the dock, a whole brass band and then a whole lot of drums playing 'our God is an awesome God' and some French African songs that have come to be so familiar to us. It is good to see old friends, crew who have been striving here to get things ready for us and some of last years day volunteers come back to welcome us.
Singing from the end of the dock and a brass band welcome

Tom still holding his flag as we get tied up
More people where the ship has docked to welcome us with music

Togo's flag being carried down the gangway to start the arrival ceremony

Pictures of the new dock to follow. More pics on Olly and Sally's blog, although don't get any ideas that the view out of our window is like theirs! We're facing the dock!

Friday, 5 February 2010

In the Doldrums...

Here's a picture from Deck 7 this evening. The sea is as calm now as it was swelling before. We look out of the window over what looks like a sea of molten silver with barely the slightest swells. It is beautiful.

I remember studying the Intertropical Convergence Zone in my Geography A'Level, and now we are witnessing the effects of this on the sea. We are actually sailing through the Doldrums! I'm just glad we aren't in a sail boat, relying on the wind.


Wednesday, 3 February 2010

a little bit further

We have ticked off day two and half of day three at sea. It is getting smoother, yesterday we had some rocky periods as they tried to find the best route to minimise the effect of swells on us. However, we had a good day for whale spotting, dolphin watching and Josh and his friend Xavier had a lovely show from some very cute little porpoises (which he was not fully appreciative of - in his enthusiasm to go with Xavier to find the nappy/diaper bin on deck 8- of all things!!). Hopefully it will stay nice and calm, we will loose that last bit of feeling nauseous and we can enjoy the rest of the sail. Tommy is doing better with teaching in his windowless room, the boys remain oblivious and haven't even woken at night when things were crashing about, if we could just catch up a bit of sleep now things would be looking even better. Thanks for praying :-)

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

"Each one of you will have a tale to tell"

So says Captain Tim at our meeting this morning, referring to the night that has just been. That made me smile, thinking of the nights activity. The entire contents of the cabin are on the floor (to be fair most of them we put there anticipating the movement but the last few bits of paper and plastic items went too, and now everything is scattered far and wide and no longer feels neat piles are necessary), there are towels stuffed in drawers to stop things rattling, the TV that was secured well enough for the last sail decided to jump this time (and still works thank you God), the crashes from the crew galley were enough to make me thankful I didn't have to leave my cabin for fear a saucepan would be flying towards me. Apparantly there is enough flour and milk around the galley for a pancake mix, sounds like a fun clear up job. This morning is calmer than the night, but we have had to change course to survive the swells and let people who have been up all night rest.

Are we there yet? No, only 9 days to go? Pray for us!!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Day One

I have been lying in bed trying to think up words to describe it all. Words that are the opposite of fun, exciting, quick, smooth...hope you get the idea. They were not kidding about the rocking about that was coming our way. The boys are completely oblivious except for the occasional helpful comment such as 'we are rocking' as one of them falls over, Tommy is 'bucket sick' (thank small children for that delightful mental picture) and I can't face being upright for fear of joining him. I think a good percentage of the crew are feeling the same way, but if there is anyone still standing pray they come and knock on the door of our cabin tomorrow wanting to play with a small child because 8 or more hours of Joshua wanting to play 'with someone' might be more than we can take!

Now for a lie down :-(

Demonstration in Santa Cruz

We watched a large number of people marching through the streets against council 'corruption' on Saturday. They were demonstrating against the councils Plan General de Ordencion (PGO), a planning by law which has put many city buildings out of planning permission and accusing them of lying, corruption and theft. A good chance to talk to the boys about something you don't see everyday and to be reminded of the need to pray for Togo, that the elections there would go well, be peaceful and that we won't encounter any protests of a less desirable kind after our arrival following the elections.