Christmas in Béré!

As you can imagine, holidays away from home can be an emotional roller coaster for many people. First it was Thanksgiving, then Christmas, and now it will be New Years. It seems like only last week I boarded my first flight out of Reno, NV, to head over hear and now we are entering 2014!

Thankfully, I have supportive family and friends (I think) who still keep in contact countries, continents, and oceans away. I can’t say that it’s always enjoyable being so separated from those you love or that it is easy being forced into a new community. We make due though. Sunday we began with the feature film Elf, Josh’s birthday brunch, and an evening of snacks and a movie at Parker’s. Monday was an insane day of screaming children, temperamental Toyotas, and Christmas shopping in Moundou. I don’t want children anymore. Ever. I want to be able to hand them back when they are screaming their heads off for no reason. Tuesday we decorated cookies. Jamie was our judge for the competition. With so many cookies, we did categories by shape and my stocking was a winner! Following this we ate pizza, played games, and watched one weird Christmas movie. Everyone fell asleep at one point or another but as soon as it was over more games commenced! Daniel and I opted out when we realized we still had no card or gift for the families here on the compound. We cut and glued and folded until 4 am! We attached the cards and a little token to a roll of toilet paper from America with a sad bow. Inside we said, “Thank you for making our holidays ‘ultra soft’ this year!” Charmin Ultra Soft does wonders here, especially for those extra frothy days.

After a fitful 3 hrs of sleep, we drug our corpses to the Netteburgs for a pancake feast and stockings! Hello Christmas! All of Christmas Day was food, cookies, gifts, and more food! We were pretty tired all day which made for even more interesting conversation and games!

I am grateful for people who are creative and excited for having fun. You cannot just sit around expecting to have a good time, especially here. Last Sunday was Josh’s 21st birthday and it was a bit of a let down compared to most 21st birthdays. We did have an awesome brunch that cannot compare to any other meal here. Right after that, he headed out to clean the OR. Boring. After an afternoon of Elf and an evening at Parker’s (oh yes, we also watched Polar Express), Danae decided to put the kids to bed and was persistent on throwing Josh in the river at 10 pm. We put a pillowcase over his head and threw him in the back of the 4runner and pile in. Olen maked sure he had the ride of is life on the way there. We drug him out and asked if he wanted to go in with his clothes. He thought we were bluffing so he wouldn’t take off his hoodie or jeans. We were not so we just tossed him into the murky water fully clothed! Danae, Olen, and I jumped in so he wouldn’t feel so alone! We sang an awful version of happy birthday as we toasted with D’jino on ice. Since he is a “missionary” D’jino is just a regular, non-alcoholic soda (though it does have some addictive properties. We need to import it to the USA for sure!). A few more people were thrown in before we clambered back in/on the vehicles. Josh was a slightly pissed but once he had D’jino and Tammy offered the use of her hot shower, he said it was totally worth it!

See, we know how to have fun here! Too often overseas work is seen as charity and suffering. It is already hard enough without the added mental stress of these added expectations. We must mix it up with fun and emotional releases. Jesus even escaped when he needed to. I love having fun and just because I live in the middle of Africa, in the bush, and have a difficult time traveling anywhere, I refuse to let these get in the way of a good time!

So here’s to fun, here’s to success, and here’s to moving forward! Happy holidays!

Zachary Gately
zchgtly @ gmail.com
zgately.com
Berep21.wordpress.com
+235 91122492

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boîte Postal
Kelo, Tchad
Africa

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Madness!

Madness! This week has been compete madness! We have been conducting our Community Health Worker (CHW) Trainings for the new members as well as having to plan for the entire next year, and prepare for next week’s Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) trainings. Josh also returned from the States last Friday, giving us an extra pair of hands again. It’s finally Friday which means the training will be completed and at least we can rest tomorrow.

I have stopped counting the week I’ve been here. It’s somewhere in the low teens but there doesn’t seem to be any point in counting since I just live here now. This is my community and I will work my best to achieve an adequate health standard for my community. I have met some incredible people here and it show the resilience of the human race. From orphans to vice principals to government officials, each individual has a different story. As my language skills increase, I can’t wait to go deeper with these relationships. Of course, you all know that not being able to speak French has stopped me from trying to talk to people (I have been told that I can make friends with a wall).

The holidays are upon us, causing all of the nasara different levels of anxiety. Some miss family, others miss snow, and all are missing a well stocked grocery store for holiday goodies. Since we live in a largely Muslim country, Christmas comes and goes without much thought. This is also harvest season so people are mad busy with their fields. Once the New Year hits, it’s party time for days! Fête! Fête! Every one gets new clothes and enjoys the fruits of their toils as they bring in 2014.

I wish I had some profound wisdom to impart as I live and work in a developing country. I wish I could share giant miracles and tell you that the lame walk and the blind see. Due to modern technology, these miracles still happen but more thanks to doctors passing their exams, living lives of service to a community in desperate need of services.

I can, however, give a list of miracles that are small but by no means insignificant.

  1. We were able to get our supplies at a cheaper price and quicker than expected for our CHW trainings.
  2. Tammy asked if she could buy our shelves that were way to expensive, giving us extra cash on hand (there is no return policy or customer satisfaction here).
  3. We have a number if women’s health experts who will be around to talk with our TBAs.
  4. Our Public Health building was mostly completed and we were able to hold our trainings inside.
  5. We found instant coffee that isn’t horrible.
  6. The printer finally decided to work.
  7. One shop in the market sells toilet paper!

All of these things came to pass right when they needed too. Though they are not inanely large miracles, they made all the difference for our lives here!

It’s been an adventure so far and I can’t wait to see what will happen each day. Please check out our blog about the project here: berep21.wordpress.com. This is where the “technical” and “professional” items will be posted!

Enjoy the pictures below!

Me and my friend Doompa after church

Haircut time!

Charis, Daniel, and me with our CHWs/TBAs

Our cooking demonstration at the hospital for families with malnourished kids.

Raïsa and Diana ready for the river

Lunch with Diana and Aurthur. Raïsa is a budding photographer.

Shannice is teaching wound care to our new CHWs.

This is a panorama or my house.

Zachary Gately
zchgtly @ gmail.com
+235 91122492

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boîte Postal
Kelo, Tchad
Africa