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From: Joseph Kallanchira
To: Superior General SVD
Sent: Thursday, August 07, 2008 9:35 PM

BY THE RIVERS OF TOGOLAND

Dear Father General,

hat happened in these recent days here in Togo, this small west African nation, is probably nothing alarming compared to what had happened recently in the Iowan Upper Mississippi Valley in the US - yet, I thought you and the generalate members would appreciate taking note of these events that remain à la une for us and our people in this country.

The rains of the last weekend and the rising waters all over the country played havoc and in an unbelievable and unprecedented manner brought down, at the last count as of this morning, around 15 bridges and culverts on the main and important upcountry roads, thus bringing the entire Togolese population to live through some terrible shock.

For those knowing the whereabouts of this country, the life-line of Togo is the central Lomé-Cincassé (only) main road linking the south to the north. Damaged infrastructure on this road alone obliges traffic now to flow on a terrible national go-slow from Lomé via Kpalimé en route to Atakpamé before being able to rejoin the main central road. The Kpalimé-Atakpamé belt is on the verge of a possible serious breakdown, unable to handle such huge traffic day and night, according to confreres who travelled from Kara to Lomé the other day, taking practically the whole day to reach the capital city, a distance which noramally takes about 5 hours to cover!

The trucks and tankers not having easy access to the available roadspace, they are talking already of fuel shortage in the entire north of the country - with the onset of such a plight, one can only imagine the consequences. The price of one bowl of maize, our staple food here, rocketed overnight to the equivalent of four US dollars, whereas it was a little less than one a week before! The archbishop of Lomé has called for donations and gifts in cash and kind from people of goodwill to come to the aid of local populations, immediate victims of the natural calamity...

As the rainy season continues, one wonders what even the government can do to bring some hope to the entire population. We are all waiting for the waters to slide down... while trying to sing hymns of praise and thanksgiving.

Joseph Kallanchira, SVD
Lomé, Togo