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St John of God Hospital, Lomé

Who is John of God?
John of God (1495 – 1550) was a Portuguese soldier turned health-care worker in Spain, whose followers later formed the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God. Today it is a worldwide Catholic religious institute dedicated to the care of the poor, sick, and those suffering from mental disorders.

The Mental Health Centre SAINT JOHN OF GOD is located in Lomé, precisely in Agoè Nyivé, not far from the Court of Appeal. This centre is specialised in the treatment of mental illness headed by Brother Nicolas N’SALE, who is very passionate about his work. Within the centre are many Brothers who come from various African countries and who work there for the same cause.

The hospital is therefore equipped with almost all that makes up a modern hospital with high standards. This includes a state of the art laboratory for diagnostics and a pharmacy.

Diagnostic centre St. John of God
Victoria Grace Foundation-100238
Staff at the hospital with Jennifer Ronne

The patients’ rooms are well ventilated with 2 beds and an en suite toilet and bathroom. There are 2 cupboards for the patient’s belongings. Usually, there is enough room for family to stay over with the patients.

The hospital also has an industrial kitchen, a room for fitness rehabilitation and art therapy. Outside is a football and basketball court.

With extensive grounds, both animal and vegetable farming are part of the hospital.

The staff includes Lab technicians, Psychologists, Doctors, Nurses, Social workers, Cooks, Cleaners and Gardeners.

The centre is active in charitable services. They help the poor, sick and people with mental illness. ‘Hospitality’ is their motto.

Who is the Director?
The Director of the Hospital is Brother Nicolas N’SALE. He is from Benin. He has been the head of the hospital since 2017. The hospital was founded in 2006. Brother Nicolas is very passionate about his work, so went in to find out more about him.

Question: Where did you get the passion to help people with mental health problems; especially those on the streets?
“It is a vocation. I have dedicated my whole life to the service of the poor and the sick. I try to imitate our founder St. John of God with the Charis and Grace we receive from him, and I also try to imitate the image of Jesus Christ who always loved the poor and the sick.

We are the disciples of St. John of God, we have embraced his charism, we want to follow in his footsteps and better treat the people suffering with mental ill health, including those abandoned on our streets.

This is my vocation till the end of my life”.

Brother Nicolas feeding someone

“When we go out on the streets and see people with mental illness; sick and rejected, it breaks our hearts and saddens us, we know we cannot feed them every day, but once in a while we could give them water to drink and food to eat, that was how we started to prepare food on Saturdays; we go out and meet them where they are, we speak with them, feed them; clothe them and help quench their thirst; This is the “Soup Kitchen” organised one Saturday a month.

At this centre we have several Brothers from different African countries living here, many from Malawi. The St of God Psychiatric hospital Malawi is of high standards and a lot of work has gone into removing the stigma surrounding mental ill health as well homeless person with mental illness on their streets. This was a collective effort from both public and private donors. It is a really good example to follow.

Question: Are there people currently working at the centre who were once patients?
“Yes, a lot! At least 6. They were patients who we picked off the streets during our Saturday feeds. Jacques is one of them.
Their job is to clean the yard, do small maintenance, clean the windows, tender and care for the garden, and harvesting vegetables: Jacques works 3 days a week. He has met a person and they hope to get married soon.”

Who is Jacques?
Jacques, nicknamed “Fofo-Jacques”, was a homeless person with mental illness who used to wander the city but slept at the University of Lomé. He said that the University belonged to him, when he was brought to the centre he liked to plant trees everywhere he also said the centre was also his. Fofo-Jacques was not very docile when he arrived, they had to catch him often and bring him back to the centre and hospitalise him. Today he is much better, he works at the centre and is looking for money to pay the dowry to get married!
One of our team volunteers, French photographer Nicolas Roberts has offered to cover the wedding at no cost!

Question: Is Jacques still on medication? Do they buy them or do you give them free?
“Yes, he is still on medication. We give it for free. He takes one tablet, sometimes half a tablet is enough of Risperidone, an antipsychotic that outpatients of the centre have to take for life as self-medication”.

Brother Nicolas also spoke to us about Ablavi. She regularly comes to buy her medication and to greet the Director.

Question: What is your vision for the centre?
“My main vision is to develop a best care service for the sick and homeless people suffering from mental health disorder; and to develop an Occupational Therapy service to assist stabilised patients get back to work. For the social reintegration of stabilised patients.”


This is an example of expenses for a patient, however, treatment goes on irrespective of payment once a patient has been admitted. The hospital needs and hopes for donations:

Patients brought by their families:

  • Accommodation: 6,000 CFA per day = 180,000 CFA per month
  • Treatment: 25,000 CFA per month
  • Diagnostics: 30,000 CFA per month

* Total: 235,000 CFA per month/ €361.53 per month

For the homeless:

  • Transport: 5,000 CFA
  • Accommodation: 60,000 CFA per month
  • Food: 60,000 CFA per month
  • The Carer: 3,000 CFA per day (she also takes care of the homeless patient)
  • Treatment: 25,000 CFA per month
  • Diagnostics: 30,000 CFA per month

* Total: 270,000 CFA / €415.38 per month

*(€1 = 650 CFA)

3 months is the estimated time in hospital for a complex patient.

Every little bit helps!