Garth and Fiona Kennedy are serving with Trans World Radio in the country of Benin. Garth was responsible for the construction of the transmitter site. When asked about challenges that a missionary in Benin faces, Garth said “We can get basic building supplies – sand, stone and cement – but things are put together in a different way here.” Garth spoke of bricks hand-made on site and scaffolding (2,000 poles) as well as concrete forms that were made from the ample supply of teak wood. When the Kennedy’s first arrived, the site consisted of nothing but open African bush veld (grass and trees). They began by building a small access road for delivery trucks. Some of the local people came and told them where to find water on site – and a well was dug.
The AM transmitter went on the air 1 February 2008 with broadcasts in the morning and evening for Benin and the surrounding countries in 17 languages. Garth is currently responsible for financial reporting and for the maintenance of the transmitter site which includes the two diesel generators.
“There are no supermarkets. There are no convenience foods,” Fiona said. “If you see something you can use, you buy it. If a particular item runs out, it could be months before you see it again. Buying veggies at the veggie market involves standing at the counter and point to what you want. If you want mince meat you have to mince it yourself.” Now that is basic!
But with a smile in her voice, Fiona says, “I’ve gotten used to it now, but at the beginning it was a challenge finding where to find what. It takes a lot more time to do my shopping.”
Many doors have opened to Garth and Fiona because of their children. Fiona said the local people “love babies, but to have a foreign baby…they want to have a look and see and talk to them. Adults will talk with us quite happily because of the boys, otherwise they might just walk past.”
Church services in Parakou are generally held in two languages: French and Yoruba or French and Fon. Garth and Fiona chose a church where French is used for the songs and sermon with a translation into Fon. “This is our best chance at understanding and being spiritually fed. We have friends there who we can talk to when we don’t understand.”