Aboetia Island, the Only Place Where Risking Your Life to Save Another Looks Exciting 

Patrick Fynn

By the time our bus pulled up at the bank of the river, we knew we were already doomed; or we were about to meet doom.

The river body that leads to the place is a soothing sleekness in a way that entrances you. We’re fascinated by the calm of the waters and a feeling of a heavenly spirit that appears to be hovering over it.

It’s a beautiful place encircled with greens over mountains in a far distance.  The breeze is chilly, and has a spectacular way of noticing our presence. It melts into us like snow in the rain. 

But why did a feeling of danger land on our hearts? The canoe! It used each opportunity to threaten capsizing, even though the operator repeatedly  reassures us it’s unlikely. 

The lad, who’s accompanied by an assistant starts the outboard motor and propels the water craft into motion. We hold our breaths. The women among us who could find their breaths invest it in screaming, whenever the boat inclines.

Everyone bears copious amounts of fear. Without life jackets, this medium of transport is akin to dismantling a bomb with your eyes closed.

But when we acclamitised, we knew it time for phone cameras to go up.

Under a shade at their settlement, a group of middle-aged men sit slothfully as they inch closer to what seems like a day they had been waiting for. Word had earlier gone about our coming. So it was in sync with the joy the children popped up from nowhere with, when our boat finally hit solid land.

The ensuing conversations were rendered in unadulterated Ewe language, then I knew I was really doomed for sure! Was I supposed to deliver the supposed health talk and consultations in the local language? Cluelessness besieged me like the new baby sitter who doesn’t know where the extra wipes are kept.

Pleasantries are exchanged, community entry procedures are performed. We’re settled. The men sit in wait for their turn to be checked up by the medical team.

The children take turns to receive  donations of learning materials and food from the Sandy Adore Foundation, they sandwich us in sessions of photo shoot; smiling from ear to ear.

The women, like octopuses are doing a million things at a time — they are getting ready what looks like an afternoon meal, and as well seeing the medical team. In between time they engage in one thing or another: pulling stuff out of fishes that have just been taken out of the river, or cleaning.

In the middle of the events, we’re told of a sick child struck by an illness that rendered him indoors all day. When he was brought out, we knew our visit was a timely one. What appeared like an unimportant condition to them actually got our digital thermometer beeping with intensity. Wisdom’s body temperature was through the roof, high enough to earn him a father’s bath in the river.

It was a spectacle as all the children ran after them in unison. A person’s problem is everyone’s. To them, each man does not live by himself. True communism and togetherness dominate their existence on this island.

Wisdom now has a cold bath and  the figures have dropped on the thermometer. He’s crushing a bitter tablet of Paracetamol without cringing, to the bewilderment of onlookers. Then, like a real man he submits a finger for a rapid malaria test, which confirms what is the biggest challenge in hinterlands like this.

The incidence of malaria and it’s resultant complications, according to an inhabitant here is as common as pillows on bed. Sanitation apparently is not a priority in these places, and puts them at high risks.

But Wisdom will be fine. A brother dashes into a room and returns with a dilapidated cup of water, which he runs down the antimalarial tablets we offered him.

A lot of coercion to get this woman in a photo reders her more coy and she reluctantly gives in, with her shyness reaching a crescendo.

Then she offers to ready some fried fish for the team. Fish harvested seconds ago from the river!

In the end, we return in pride.

The women couldn’t show appreciation by any better means.  Thousands of “Akpe” echo from all directions and are shoved into our faces, a hundred more hauled at Sandy Adore who leads this delegation and Jonilar, who facilities this program, doing all the interpretations.

Their hospitality, their smiles and constant reciprocation of love forces us to promise them another visit. It makes us forget we had a hard time reaching here. We forget that for a moment, we put our lives on the line.

But today, our stay on this island can only be short-lived. Someone should turn on the motor! We have to go… 

 Watch video here 

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