Language matters

written by Cristina Amato

French-speaking crewmembers, coming from countries like France, Cameroon and Switzerland, joined Tema’s Youth With A Mission (YWAM) director Pastor Humphrey in meeting and engaging in conversation with truck drivers from West African countries where French is widely spoken.

Pastor Humphrey explains, “[The drivers] come from [French-speaking] countries around Ghana to load goods from the port. And when they come, there is a transit point where they stay for a while, and so we talk to them…”

Understanding that being away from home for even months and a foreigner in Ghana can be hard and lonely, the crewmembers were delighted to connect with the truck drivers in the easiest way possible: in their own language.

Joel Benicourt (France) said, “Being Francophone helped me cross a big cultural barrier with them. I had an instant connection with them through a shared language. Many of the truckers did not speak English, and some of them were only fluent in their local African dialects, but among those who spoke French there was an open opportunity for conversation and friendship.”

Sam de Lange (France) explained, “The drivers have to sleep under their trucks or in makeshift tents in front of their trucks, so the living conditions are very difficult. A lot of them expressed how they feel forgotten and just waiting for their shipment to arrive so they can finally return to their home countries. [For this reason] they were really open to receive encouragement and prayer from us and were interested in the conversations we had.”

Joel said, “Even though I come from a Western culture and most of them grew up with a different worldview and religion than me, I still felt I could relate to them and feel comfortable around them. I really enjoyed the day; for me a highlight was sharing a sip of traditional green tea with some Malian truckers. We got to experience a little glimpse of what their life is like. To me one of the most valuable parts of this experience was just to appreciate these men and their lives.”