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Pastor Djossou and village chief at property for new school.


Chıef’s Gift

Boys at play.


s Yefunde bent over her shovel, turning the soil around each mound of yams, she thought about her three daughters who were walking to school with their friends. If only it wasn’t such a long walk into town, but what choice did they have? There was no school bus to pick them up. Hardly anyone had a car in their village, so everyone walked wherever they needed to go. The farming community where they


lived was at the edge of the city of Parakou in the central part of Benin. There simply wasn’t another school that was closer. Jibade was sharpening a farm tool when he heard the wail of an ambulance pass by. “Dear God,” he prayed, “please let my children be OK. The youngest ones are so little!

Councilmen are respected for their wisdom.

Please help all five of them get to school safely today.” Parents worried whenever they heard sirens, knowing that heavy traffic made the road very dangerous. The road into Parakou was in good condition, but it was always crowded and busy. Cross-country trucks roared by, scarcely leaving room for motorbikes, buses, and cars. Pedestrians, including the children who walked to school, had to share the highway with all the traffic. They had to be alert at all times, taking great care to squeeze over to the very edge of the road whenever they heard a vehicle approaching. At the end of the day mothers and fathers would watch as the children walked down the path from the busy road, sighing with relief when each child was accounted for. Nearly all of the adults worked in the fields every day. Mothers often toiled with a baby tied to their backs. After school, the older brothers and sisters would give them a break by carrying the babies or tending to the younger children as their mothers did their chores. The village chief and the members of the tribal council discussed the school situation many times over the years. They were concerned about

Fall 2013