The road to the village was definitely long.
You cannot get to a place just when you want it. In order to 300km you have to use 3 vehicles, wait until they are full, try to breathe some air from the window and resist the pain caused by every hole on the road.
People do not get angry because of the traffic, neither of the delay, nor of the driving. A simple smile is enough.
And that’s how we arrived at night, through a dense forest, where the green was so strong that it hurt my eyes. Green, and beyond only even greener. We do not know what stories could hide these trees, what wars and what horrors they have seen. Forests where now only snakes are numerous, ready to attack unwary tourists. The monkeys have escaped, the elephants have been disappearing because they are BEING still exterminated, the lions have retired.
Only snakes, which stretched along the leaves, wait for the rain.
As soon as we enter the village we heared screams, shouts, they call us, they ask for photos. They pose, they ask for more photos. They laugh at us and make fun of us. We became already their family, we are already their brother and their sister. This is where we meet Charles, who with his NGO tries to give women something that seems obvious to us and almost superficial: clinical screenings. There are many women who die here because they can not get an echo and do not understand whether pregnancy is progressing well. To do this you need to take a long journey of 3 or 4 hours.
He tries to bring some equipment into the community, to prevent women from dying for difficult parts. Obviously there is no equipment for any kind of emergency childbirth, given that mothers give birth on a simple bed with dirty sheets. The only thing they have available in the hospital is an oxygen bomb, half empty and without the mask.
We try to understand what can be done but unfortunately the problems are many. The teenagers get pregnant, usually when they are between 12 and 15 years old, and have no money to buy even essential food to eat. It is the region without a future, where there is no any kind of employment, and its inhabitants have become farmers. Every morning already at 4 am they go to the market, but no one buys their goods, because among all farmers, no one needs vegetables of A neighbour. So they return home exhausted, carrying on their shoulders the same weight that they loaded in the morning, maybe just a couple of pounds less.
Children cannot attend school because their school cannot provide them food, or with any healthcare or clothes. The school environment becomes worse than their home and parents call them back.
Absorbents do not exist either. Charles distributed them for the first time among the school girls, where half-embarrassed and half-happy, they managed to try them for the first time and discovered how to avoid infections.
This village seams desolate, among old houses and dense palm trees, there is only one structure that exceeds the others. We come closer to understand what it is, we ask Charles, he answers us to read on the entry. The notice reads as follows “Compagnie française de l’Afrique occidentale”, a piece of history. A piece of forgotten history. Forgotten by them, where the old workers of that factory are still affected by injuries and amputations. Definitely forgotten by France, and by the Europe, too busy to cancel the pages of its uncomfortable history.
On our journey back to Accra, I cannot stop thinking of how all of our thoughts are built on falsehoods, on a false comfort.
It is only by going up to the sacred river collecting barrels of water that have to be carried on the head, that we can really understand how our problems are ridiculous.
Only when you understand that one meal a day is a luxury, you realize that our debates about food are useless.
It is only in the dark that you understand that there is no silence. In Africa, you will never find silence, because of drums and of animals. Roosters in the morning, crickets at the sunset, pigs, dogs, goats and snakes. It is only in this darkness, that you understand that people dance here without stopping, dance and laugh, dance and forget, but above all dance without crying.
In a short, it is only in the dark full of noise that you realize that our silence is not normal.