Saturday, October 31, 2009

Visiting With E/S Goff In The Cabo Verde Islands

In mid-October we flew to Mindelo, Cape Verde to visit and train the new humanitarian couple, Elder Larry & Sister Pat Goff.

Elder Goff served an earlier mission as a young man in Brazil, and has bravely returned with a rusty knowledge of Portuguese. Sister Goff is even braver. She is relying totally on her husband's rusty memory of Portuguese. Now that's faith. They're a great couple, ready for the work.

Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) is a group of 10 islands off the North-West coast of Africa, with a usually hot, dry climate, smiling people and plenty of ocean-front property.

After two days in Mindelo, we flew with James Travas to the island of Sao Nicolau for a wheelchair distribution. Sao Nicolau's main--and perhaps only--industry is fishing--the main dish on the menu in every restaurant. And, everyone's a fisherman on this island.

Ummmmm sun-dried fish. No exactly our thought of a delicacy.

When we arrived on the island Sao Nicolau, we were welcomed by the results of an overnight flood. A new road system had just been completed. Obviously not with the idea of rain in mind. Ever few miles we found the roads flooded out or washed away.

There's suppose to be a road here somewhere.

...and a bridge here somewhere...

During another rain a week earlier, a mother and two children died on the island when flood waters brought large rocks down on their home during the night. The man above is the husband and father of this family, and though injured, managed to survive the flood.

Sao Nicolau is a beautiful, green island full of rocky mountains and narrow canyons. The same elements that makes it so beautiful, also make it a dangerous place to live. Though these homes are just above the village below, they are completely cut off from the rest of the island. There are no roads to reach them, and their donkey paths are washed away. All supplies must be hand carried for nearly 7 miles uphill.

While in the village of Tarrafall, we visited a home for the elderly that had been established by Rumis, a gentleman interested in the needs of single mothers, the elderly and disabled. One of the major problems in third world and developing nations is the care of the disabled and elderly. These people are often the last on the priority list for government aid. When there is no family to help, these people rely on the generousity and concern of people like Rumis.

It is gratifying to know that simple things, and little money can help offer a giant step towards advanced sustainability for organizations who serve these the disabled and elderly. On our first glance at this particular facility, it would be easy to start adding furniture and comfort items--perhaps a chair or sofa. But that would be our Western view of the necessities of life. Though it is sparse of furniture, it is clean and neat, and has provides home and comfort for the four blind men who live here.

The men in this home are cared for by a single mother and her 12 year old son, who live in the facility with them. This creates another aspect to the facility. While meeting the needs of the disabled men, it provides a home and livelihood for the mother and her son. We thought this was an ingenious way to meet the needs of both groups of people.

While visiting the home for the elderly, we learned that Rumis' organization also cooks and serves 2 meals a day for these men and 30 other disabled in the village of Tarrafall at a small community center.

Rumis was proud--and should be--of the service that two other women, offer the community. As Rumis showed us the kitchen where the food is prepared, Sister Goff and I quickly noticed that all the cooking was being done on a two burner unit sitting on a table top, and that the handles of the large pots were broken off. We asked Rumis if that was all they used to cook with. What about the stove? "It's broken." He told us. "And has been for a long time." They've tried for three years to get the municipal office to replace it. We also noticed that there was no refrigerator for storaging food. A small freezer nearby was the only storage space in the kitchen.

Since food is something people cannot live without, we asked E/S Goff if they would consider a project with the organization to help furnish their kitchen. During the day, they shopped the village for a new stove, refrigerator and pots and pans to help the organization meet the needs of the elderly and disabled in their village. Now they can more efficiently serve two meals a day for 30 disabled people and their caregivers--including the blind men at the home.

Though there was still much more to do in Tarrafall, Sao Nicolau, we found time to....

...chill with some friends.

...Find time alone...

...envy the natives who can easily find a place to nap....

...and staying in practice for ....

...our own little grands.....

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