Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Weddings in Togo

The ship’s last field service in Togo was in 2010, and while it was there, many lives were saved, and many more were transformed. The following story about Win’n and Aicha isn’t about saving a life, but about helping to make a happier life for two from Togo.

I hope you don’t feel tricked or misled – this time it’s not MY story, but it’s a very sweet story indeed and it also gives you an idea of how Togolese people get married… with a little help from Mercy Ships. Enjoy! :)

BTW, they got married at the same place as we did 2 weeks ago...

“Once upon a time in Togo, there lived an elementary school teacher named Win'n. He was a fine, handsome young man … but he was born with webbing between the ring finger and the pinkie finger on his left hand.

In 2007, Win'n was invited to a friend's birthday party. One of the guests immediately caught his attention – a lovely young lady named Aicha. He glanced at her, and she glanced at him. He asked if he could drive her home. She refused. Because he wasn't faint of heart, he asked her again. She relented a little, saying maybe he could drop her off at the end of her street. He drove her home, and then courageously asked for her phone number so he could call her on Sunday.

“It’s my mother’s phone. I can't give you the number,” she responded. Finally, he asked if he could take her out on a date.

“My mother won't allow me out,” she told him. “If you want, I'll go and ask your mother,” he said. But she didn't want him to do that at all. Near exasperation, he said, “If you don't like my personality, tell me.”

She was silent – a very good sign.

It was time for the school year to begin, and Win'n was assigned to teach at a new school. When he showed up for the first day of school there was Aicha, in charge of the student food concession. Win'n was overjoyed! Now, he could have lunch with Aicha every day!

After more than two years, the headmaster called him. “You have been together with this girl for a long time. It is my wish that you would make her your wife. It was time to meet Aicha's mother.

A nervous Win'n went to Aicha's house at the appointed time. He was invited to sit in a chair, while Aicha sat on the floor at her mother's feet. Aicha's mother was a widow who wanted her daughter to be married properly, in the traditional manner.

She asked Win'n if he wanted to make her daughter his wife. He quickly responded that he did. The mother then gave him a list of things to buy if he wanted to ask for her hand. The list included 4 pairs of slacks, 4 pairs of shoes, 4 slips, 4 bras, a suitcase, and one large container of cola nuts (about 10,000 cfa). This list amounted to a dowry. Traditionally, a family asked for something that represented their area of Africa. For Aicha's family, it was cola nuts. Win'n bought all that was on the list, and next, his three aunts paid the traditional visit to the home of the bride's aunt. They knocked on the door, and the bride's aunt answered , “What's the news?”

His aunts then said, “Don't worry. We come with good news. There's a sunflower in your home. Our nephew wants to pick the flower, but he wants to ask your permission.”

The bride's aunts replied, “The flower has a price.”

Then Win'n's aunts produced the suitcase, and the bride's aunt checked to see that it contained all of the requested items. Now, four young ladies, including Aicha, lined up. As each one passed by, the bride's aunt asked, “Do you recognize the flower? Is it this one?”

When the bride-to-be passed by, the aunts said, “Yes!”

The bride's relatives responded, “Now, we are proud.” Win'n was overjoyed, but he had a problem. The ring finger of his left hand was webbed to the pinkie finger. He couldn't wear a wedding ring. Surgery could correct the problem, but on his teacher's salary, he couldn't afford it. He was very disappointed.

Then the mother of one of his students told him of the surgeries that the volunteer doctors with Mercy Ships perform without charge. This was his only chance to have his fingers separated.

Win'n received a free surgery and post-operative care. During one check-up, Nurse Alainie Costas discovered he was engaged. “When are you getting married?” she asked.

“As soon as my fingers are officially separated,” he answered.

On August 7, Aicha slipped a gold wedding band on Win'n's ring finger. What a wonderful wedding present from Mercy Ships!" (by a ship writer)

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