|Sky, Honou and Raoul|
Raoul has an x-ray of his head, and he has a long, long list of medications that a doctor in Lome has prescribed, including anti-depressants. I’m very, very leery of all this medicine he is taking. I don’t have much confidence in the doctors prescribing the right course of action. I’ve personally experienced with Mahsoblee….a real neglect in prescribing and explaining medicine. I’m sure determining the source a of headache is difficult to diagnose in the states…probably almost impossible here. Raoul said that the doctor told him he needed a special “scan.” But that would cost $160 plus a trip to Ghana. Raoul is one of many, many people in Tchekpo who need medical assistance. I also have to make difficult choices. I don’t have the resources to help Raoul with his headaches right now, so I tried to find another way to help him. A possible solution that is more in line with what I’m here for; which is to assist people to start and grow businesses that might help them, help themselves. I’m not satisfied that this was my only solution for Raoul, but for now, it’s all I have. Raoul had also told me that his parents don’t have any money, and that he cannot ask them for anymore help. His illness thus far has depleted all of their savings. He feels bad and guilty about this.
During the time that Raoul waited for word that we could help his headaches, he and Honou visited me often. They told me of their dreams to build a business. Raoul has told me many times that he loves animals. When he says it, you can feel his gentle nature. Ultimately, his dream is to have an elevage farm. Elevage is the practice of breeding animals for the purpose of making and selling fertilizer. But that takes money to start. And neither he nor Honou have any money to start that business. As I talked with them, I realized how bright they both are, and how motivated. They also want to grow moringa. Moringa is a wonder-plant here in Africa. It grows fast, and just about anywhere, and it used for many, many things, including as a nutrient in foods. In addition they would like to start a pineapple farm. Oy-veh……such ambition.
Everyone’s first inclination when they come to me for assistance is that I have money to give them. I have to repeat often that I do not have money to give them, but that I’ll try to think of a way to help them help themselves.
|The teacher and his students|
Sky patiently and kindly showed them the three day process of growing mushrooms. It was doable. For Sky’s training we used one of the three bags of spores that I had purchased. In a few weeks, Raoul and Honou would plant the rest of them by themselves. They became fast friends with Sky. We walked to Raoul's house so that they could show him their big plans. They had land nearby where they could grow moringa, and pineapple, and Raoul had already started building crates for elevage. I told them they needed a name for their business. They named it ‘Young Men’s Business’. Not too dramatic, but they were pleased with it, and to them it seemed significant.
|L-R Raoul, Honou, Ackbennie|
|Ackbennie and her students|
The following weekend they planted the rest of the spores. They have had their first harvest. They sold every one of them in a few days without hardly even trying. Seems the people of Tchekpo know about mushrooms, but no one has grown or sold them here before. They have a waiting list for the next harvest. Each bag of spores (they have 3) produces about three harvests…So they have enough to see enough profit to be able to invest in their next step. Step 2 - Moringa!
Raoul and Honou are going to be successful. They are going to be able to make a living for themselves, and expand their business. I think Raoul will soon be able to have enough money to go to Ghana and find a doctor who might be able to help him with his headaches. It was exciting for me, and for Sky. So many things we attempt, don’t have this good of an outcome for a variety of reasons. Sky and I both talked about how motivated they were and how gratifying it was to help them.
I’ve told Raoul and Honou often, “ The student becomes the teacher”. When they move on from mushrooms, they need to share what they've learned and teach others here, how to grow them. I also want them to teach bookkeeping to the Women’s Groupement Association (75 women who sell their farm products at the local marche) and at the Lycee (high school.) They say they will. I believe they can do anything. I’m so proud of them.
|Raoul, Sky, Raouls father, mother and sister, and Honou|