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"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."  1 John 3:16-18

Essay: Why Togo?

Fetishes

From the Akodessewa Fetish Market in Lome

Togo is a country with deep poverty and illiteracy throughout the rural areas. Basic infrastructure is lacking, such as clean water, sanitation, and access to electricity. For example, only 10% of Togo's population has access to safely managed sanitation systems for human waste. Just 20% have access to safely managed drinking water, and 11% use surface water for drinking (including Alouenou Village). Because of the lack of development, many village families endure stresses due to having little or no income except from their garden. These families cannot afford school supplies or uniforms, medical care, new clothing or even enough food, so children may go months with nothing except occasional meals of maize or rice. This leaves great deficits in their nutrition. The number of children stunted due to malnutrition in Togo is currently 25%, one out of four children, but this rate is higher in the rural villages and lower in the city. 

 Source: data.unicef.org/country/tgo/

It has been observed that children may be enticed, by the offer of food and other provisions, into orphanages of a certain faith which are instead more like prisons and will train them into a violent radical ideology. Girls become vulnerable to be trafficked into domestic or sex slavery. Children are known to work in mines in Togo because they are cheap labor.

Socially, the cultural acceptance of polygamy has led to broken family units. Men often have multiple wives, often leaving one or more set of wives and children without adequate provision. Early mortality results in grandparents left to raise their grandchildren alone or pieces of family units with no income to care for themselves. There are no social safety nets except relatives caring for kin. Children may end up in the care of an elderly grandparent who has no income (we have children in our program in this situation) or be left to wander in search of food and sleep in the open. Some children who are deserted in this way migrate to larger cities, where it is even more dangerous for them. Many of these children will never attend school since they must come up with the fees and supplies first. Even village children who live with both parents often can’t attend school because the financial burden of purchasing supplies and uniforms is too much for their parents.

For all these reasons and more, the need for Christian work in villages is great. And this work must be done not only with the children who are in immediate need of life-saving services, but with whole families and villages who need assistance in changing their mindsets and economic circumstances so that the next generation can avoid many of the devastating predicaments their parents have come to accept as everyday realities.