Brush with the Law

I have had all good intentions when it comes to blogging these past three weeks but some how a blog never materialized in cyberspace. I have had many things to blog about so I’ll just start rapid fire of ideas:
-Traveling back from NDJ without the Student Missionaries
-Straight up food poisoning from pizza (just like in developed countries)
-Reflections on the work of Dambisa Moyo, “Dead Aid,” and how it applies to here
-To extend my time here or not, that is the question

Now all of these are of some large interest to me but as another volunteer said, it sometimes is better to show the comical yet real side of what happens here. So here’s to Saturday morning activities that just happen to involve the police of one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

It started off innocent enough. My alarm beeped on Friday, 25 April, that I had to pay my student loan bill and since that is a big reason to why I am here, I try to make it a priority. We just had a big storm and the network was acting up so I figured I would do it later.

I tried it later.
I stared at my screen forever.
It never worked again.

Look at that, I made a haiku. But yes, text and phone calls wouldn’t even work so I gave up and went to bed.

The following morning I awoke with a start, realizing that I still had to pay it since it was due on the the 26th. We recently got our motorcycle completely registered (sans plate but maybe I’ll get it tomorrow) so I decided to zip over to Lai for a quick use of Tigo E (think of it like Verizon Edge or just fast cellular data). I left the hospital before 7 am but promptly got behind a dirt hauling truck and was sand blasted 80% of the 17 km to Lai.

Once there, I road around looking for a coffee or tea spot but none were open yet so I pulled around to the public meeting grounds to do my internet business. I pull out my phone and start going to the loan website when this guy comes up to me yelling, takes my phone, and proceeds to head to the police station. This police station is already a joke as they are to man the only stop sign for 60 km in any direction. It is in the middle of nowhere and they are looking for terrorists and illegal immigrants.

Whatever, so we head there and I hear him going on about internet usage and I finally figure out that I had parked near a private satellite internet tower and he was being a good citizen and reporting me. So I go on about how I was under the impression that Tigo (our cellular carrier) is available for anyone who wants to use it. The police start to laugh as I am getting very serious while this lunatic has my Iphone. He gives it back after he realizes his mistake and I after I explain it to every police officer I pass because they want to be the one to rescue the nassara, I drive across the street to sit by the hospital.

Maybe I look too nerdy with my glasses but contacts don’t do well with dust and high-speed winds. Maybe all white males are computer hackers (**cough cough** Temidayo). Maybe he was hoping for a payoff or a new phone. Whatever. I just needed to pay my loan bill.

I pull across the street by the hospital and proceed to complete what I needed to do plus a little more. I watch as every person who ran that stop sign was pulled over. There are not a lot of regular foreigners in Lai even though it is bigger than Bere so every drunk and every child thought it was there prerogative to welcome me to their city. Needless to say, Lai’s not a bad place except any normal surgical case is sent to Dr. Danae in Bere.

I finish, wave bye-bye to the police and head home, hoping to get back in time to go to the village branch of church before the regular service starts. Going, I am passing Fulani people on donkeys, women piled high with wares to sell on their heads, men guiding heavy laden ox carts, and anyone else walking or riding a bike to Bere for market day. I’m clipping a long and it feels great to be alive. I skirted one police situation and was ready to eat some breakfast.

As I pull into the town of Nangere, 7 km before Bere, I see a police stop. They flag me down (but not most other people) and ask for my papers. I ask which papers, mine or the moto’s hoping for mine, and he says the moto’s. I pull out everything and he looks it over and asks for something. I am unfamiliar with the name but he insists I don’t have it. Valery, my “father,” is the one who has been registering our motos so I call him up. I explain and finally just hand over the phone to the police. We have 30 days to get the tax taken care of but this policeman decides that we don’t. He says I can pay the 5000 CFA then and there. The only problem is that I did not have 5000 CFA, about $10 USD. Charis was bringing back money for me so I had all of 3000 CFA and change.

Valery said he could come take care of it so I told him to get the other moto’s key from Olen at the hospital. I call Olen and explain. He laughs and says its not a problem. While waiting, the police are doing a good-cop/bad-cop routine. One is being super hard about it while the other is trying to convince him that I’m a good guy, work at the hospital, and just made an honest mistake. Finally they compromise and we can take care of the paper work in Bere. We get going but as soon as we are on the main road, we see Valery. He’s getting it straightened out and Olen calls.

“Where are you guys?”
“uh by the side of the road.”
“How far from Nangere?”
“Less than a km, what’s up?”
“You wanna do church there?”
“Whhhhaaaatttt…….?”

So Valery and I ended up asking around, “Where do the nassara sing on Saturdays?” and eventually we found a well with kids waiting for our arrival. We mumble through the kids songs as I don’t know them in French or Nangere and Valery doesn’t them period. I hum a little and then the kids know it so we just roll with it. Olen said to tell the story of Jericho and Valery and I give an impresive account of what happened.

Finally we arrive back at Bere in time for Valery to make it to regular Sabbath school and for me to go take a shower.

After church, we had to take some people back to Nangere since they hitched a ride to church with us. On our way back we can pick up our new tax sticker. He said it would be 5000CFA for each bike. I rounded up 20,000CFA just incase. I figure double should be enough but it was not. He wanted 12,500 CFA for each so I have to head back to hospital and back to the police station one more time.

All in all, there was no arrest, no beatings, and not too bad of a bribe. I just was happy I made lunch before I headed out on this adventure so that they rest of those here were not waiting on me for potluck.

Its always an adventure here and I’ll continue to enjoy it while I can. I don’t have an issue with working with the people here and I like seeing their ah-ha moments. We continue to fight for healthy lives which include good nutrition, education, coming to the hospital on time, and not giving a baby water. There are only so many hours in a day but some how, we keep moving forward.

Zachary Gatelyzchgtly
zgately.com
+235 91122492

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

Illegal Activities

As I’ve said before, it is illegal to take public photos here in Chad. This is much more enforced in the capital but with the advent of the camera phone, it is increasingly difficult to control. I just dropped of the SMs last week and while there managed to snap a few illegal shots. You can either see them below or view them at zgately.com.

Camels on the bus ride up to NDJ.

Center memorial of NDJ

More center memorial.

And more…

On the way to the market.

Second big storm. You can see the dust/rain line. Pretty intense!

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

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

Photo updates!

Caught in the rain in our makeshift umbrella.

This is what happens when the moto stops in the rain!

Our most of a group shot at the welcome to Béré sign.

Diana practicing her selfies at lunch time.

Post-rain view of Netteburgs’ house and awesome tree.

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

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

Half-way and Demonic Possession

Wow. We are over halfway through this journey of a year. The halfway point was actually March 14. It was a quite day. Nothing really out of the ordinary. A friend from undergrad is in Moundou now working with Scott and Bekki Gardner, Olen’s aunt and uncle. He came up to see Bere with Scott and it was good to catch up over the weekend.

I wish I could say that I had some great epiphany hitting this halfway point. I wish I could say the pieces have come together perfectly but between illness of mulitple people and political hang-ups and the general slowness of how everything often happens here, it has not been a smooth journey thus far.

But things are happening and progressing regarless. We have almost finished our lectures in all the quartiers and we are getting ready for our final meetings with our workers and the chiefs. The student missionaries are leaving three weeks today for good and Charis is leaving for a couple of weeks a week from Sunday. It will be different not having them around any more but I think the project will take some new turns that could be pretty interesting.

We have been having some interesting events happening recently. We have had over 20 girls come in for demon posession to the hospital over the last 3 weeks or so. Most are carried in by force and eventually they seem to come around. Its hard to know if it really is demonic possession or if they are faking it. There has been lots of controversy around this between the church, the schools, the government, and the hospital. The Chadian government shut down the entire school system for a week because of these happenings. It is interest because they are all girls around 15-18 years old, Christian, and the episodes don’t last very long.

I don’t know what to think because I see two sides. I have witnessed some very real spiritual things here but I have also seen how manipulative other people have been. I wish it was clear what to do but when people you know are biting other people in an attempt to run away, its pretty crazy. Some clearly are faking it where as others are either really good actors or there is something not right. Why would anyone want this kind of attention? Why would people think this benefical to their lives?

It will be nice to have these happenings finished so that school can go back to normal and parents don’t havae to worry about their daughters. Craziness is always ensuing here but that what happens when you sign-up to live here I guess.

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

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

Dust

Sleep has not been staying with me as of late. I wake up around 4:30 am and cannot go back to sleep for the life of me. I don’t want to get up but finally after checking my email, I wearily stumble outside to pee and then brush my teeth before starting my morning brew. I then clean up my room and try to respond to a few emails, do what research I can as this is the fastest internet will be all day.

This morning, I stepped outside around 6:30 and was instantly on alert. I didn’t smell a threatening amount of smoke but I looked intensely smokey outside across the compound and over the horizon. Growing up in Northern California, forest fires always threatened the end of my summers. Was this smoke?

I look again.

It can’t be fog either. We haven’t had any type of moisture in the air for months now. Then it dawns on me:

Dust.

I knew that dust was everywhere. My clothes are dusty, my counter top is dusty, my computer looks like it fell into a sand pit, and I have to scrub my body like none other just to get clean.

But this morning was more than I ever expected. The air is now so saturated with dust that it casts shadows like clouds. It rolls in like a storm front. I half expect to be caught in a sandstorm on my way to the market today. So if you don’t hear from me soon, you’ll know that I have huddled down with my camel and am waiting out the storm.

Le Petit Vacance

Last Sunday night was filled with maddening packing, re-arranging, and preparing for our 5 day sojourn to N’djamena for our petit vacation. Now, it wasn’t really a major vacation, simply a few days to get away, use some fast internet (for both work and leisure), and eat food other than the normal Chadian cuisine.

Daniel, Josh, and I rose early Monday to begin our journey by bus. Luckily we caught the first one at 6:15 am but unluckily, it was nearly packed. I got a seat on the back row and they each and a colapsable middle seat. As I sat down I noticed that the people next to me were already a different color: the shade of dust. By the time we pulled out of Bere, I had my headwrap on to protect myself from the dust. Every few minutes, I periodically shook the dust off my iPad so that I could read on the 8 hr ride.

Josh jinxed us by saying we were making good time and 20 minutes later, we got a flat tire. We did make good time, arriving just after 2 pm in NDJ. We called our taxi man, went to the bank, picked up some take-away pizza, ice cream, and Dr. Pepper before heading out to our guesthouse at the Luthren mission.

Once settled our days consisted of relaxing in the morning, heading out to the market, eating a variety of food, shopping for things unavalable in Bere, and then returning to make dinner at the Mission. As soon as we figured out the Public transportation, we ditched our taxi driver: $10 USD to $1.25 for us to get to the market. I thought it was a resonable trade even if that meant a bit more crowding and a little more walking.

The best part had to be the ability to choose what restaurant we wanted to go to. We could end up eating Arab food in the market, washed down with avocado smoothies or Chinese sweet and spicy tofu or even so flavorful Lebanese Falafuls. We took our time at each place. Josh chatted up the waitress at the Chinese restaurant while Daniel ordered a couple of entrees just for himself. I also thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the Parisian cafe drinking my esspresso and enjoying a moiste mocha cake.

As eventful as our trip was, the three of us were pleased that we decided to go up. Too many people who pass through Bere Adventist Hospital do not take the time to see any other part of the country. They come here, work like crazy, and then leave. Some hardly even get a chance to experience the culture they are working in. It’s hard to see the blessings around you when all you focus on are the problems around you. We saw this as the last oportunity before the Student Missionaries leave to understand that there is another side of life in Chad other than Bere.

The shock on their faces as they saw street lights, stop lights, parks with green grass, regular restaurants with chairs and AC, and new cars was very entertaining. I was surprised too by some of it but it was their shock that kept me laughing the whole way to our accomidations.

Over all, this much needed mini vacation turned into an all out foodie-extravaganza (thanks Johnny) and a time to just chill. I wish I had pictures but the no public photography law is readily enforced.

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

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

A link of us!

Recently, the president of Adventist Health International and Loma Linda University traveled all the way to visit our little bush outpost here in the heart of Africa. We had a huge event with all the important people from the state and city governments, our own employees, and a large group of volunteers who helped with construction of the nursing school.

It was interesting to see the clash of culture and importance. Grown men were huffy and puffy that they were not the last ones to arrive and everyone was very segregated. I felt sad because I have friends who sat in all 5 places.

-Important government officials were front and center.
-Western volunteers were on their right.
-Local chiefs were on their left.
-Hospital employees were far right.
-Women with little to no education were way off to the side, waiting to help.

I kind of just floated around in my colorful traditional outfit helping with that, saying hello to them. It was fun but also quite stressful.

Thankfully, it went nearly as planned and we received an awesome write up from Dr. Hart. I highly recommend you look it up at: http://myllu.llu.edu/newsoftheweek/story/?id=15069&utm_source=newsoftheweek_email&utm_medium=20140213&utm_campaign=story0

Well, that’s all for today other than I think I had too much coffee. Oh well, such is life in Chad! Take care my friends!

Zachary Gately
zchgtly
zgately.com
+235 91122492

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

I’d be Lai-ing if I said it wasn’t fun!

So as many of you know, we work very closely with our Traditional Birth Attendants and Community Health Workers. They are not paid by us. Either their hearts are open to aid their communities or they just enjoy having a title. Regardless, we make sure they work and we have enjoyed their enthusiasm. We completed the CHW trainings in December and the TBA trainings will be finished within the week.

One thing we do compensate them with is supplies for working. We give non-sterile gauze, tape, bleach (for bleach water solutions), and a few other tools. Each Friday is restock day for 25% of them. They come in and we look at what they have done that month. We determine what supplies they need based off of what work they have done and restock them.

Some of the things they regularly see are cuts, pregnancies, and malaria cases. For malaria, the best predictor seems to be flu like symptoms plus a temperature of 101F or more (38.3C). So we have given them all thermometers to use. These are the traditional glass armpit ones. They have had a rough time reading those small blue lines because 1) many of them have no higher than an 8th grade education and 2) many of them need glasses badly.

Needless to say, I had to jet over to Lai (17 KM east) to the hospital supply store for more tape, gauze, and thermometers. Our moto doesn’t have the proper papers to leave the district so I had to take a taxi moto. That was an adventure but it was a much needed distraction. Tensions are high at the hospital as big decisions are being made about leadership and as many of the Nasara’s are looking forward to their annual leave (in April, it will be me and and the Netteburgs).

As the wind is blowing through my hair that needs a haircut we see one moto go down as he hit a sand pit. We see huge trucks fixing the road. We see the nomadic Fulani people traveling. Adventure only a few minutes from home!

We arrive and I can’t quite communicate that I need the hospital supply store. I have never been there but after a few questions to locals we find it. The guy inside is nice and quickly processes my order and I’m out in a flash. I run over to the Alimentation Oaisis to buy things like olive oil, cheese, and a new melange of green and mint tea. Then over to the “hardware” store for varnish, rope, and paper. These are all things I cannot buy in my little outpost of Bere. The hardware man like us in Bere so he throws in a brush for free! I’ll take it!

The ride back was about as eventful as coming with the exception of no accidents. It was just so nice to get away for an hour and enjoy the freedom of the road! It is necessary to have these little breaks (even work related!) to stay sane.

Like I said, I bought thermometers. We have a joke with our CHW/TBA’s about how to tell the difference between rectal and oral thermometers (its taste!). But some how I still bought rectal ones! I have no use for these but at these times, all you can do is laugh and make another trip to Lai. haha!

I am pumped for next week as a couple of us will be headed up to N’Djamena for a little pleasure and a little work. We can’t do much research due to internet speed here but up there we can! So look forward to some more pictures! I was actually able to get some posted last weekend (timing is everything, i.e. 4 am) on the blog at zgately.com. Go check them out and have a good week!

Zachary Gately
zchgtly
+235-9112-2492
zgately.com

L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré
ATTN: Zachary Gately
52 Boite Postal
Kelo, Tchad
AFRICA

Visual Update Encore!

Here is a nice spectrum of what has happened in the last month or so….

It was awesome to have my mom here for a month! We did the Tchadian thing of having matching family outfits. Diana and Raisa where so happy to hang out with my mom!

For Johnny’s 22 Birthday, we played a great round of four-square.

Here Johnny is lecturing the quartier of Tcha-Asse on Maternal Health and Breast Feeding.

I have begun a garden. Let me tell you, if I did not have that rototiller, I would not have a garden.

Diana is now beating Josh at arm wrestling. Don’t mess with those Tchadian women.

Charis’s cat Mac had kittens on Sunday but she was too young and they all died. At least she still has all those motherly hormones and is being uncharacteristically nice.

This is the biggest threat to peace and quiet in Bere. Meet Lyol.

I am teaching Naomi both what a selfie and a duck face are while we wait at the chief’s house.

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

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

Olympic Lectures

For the past five weeks, we have been going to every neighborhood or quartier to deliver health lectures to the community. While there, we meet with the delegate (chief) of the village and his assistants. We then deliver nine lessons over two days followed by questions and demonstrations for the members of the quartier. If we are lucky, the chief will feed us tea and gateaux after the lecture or even a full meal of rice and sauce.

At all these lectures, we are blown back at how many people come out to listen and are ready to participate. We have nursing mothers, children, and high school students mainly but there are also many men and older people too.

Our lectures were developed by some previous volunteers here at the hospital and we have tweaked them as we see fit for the community. For answering questions, we reward them by handing out toothbrushes and toothpaste. We have lectures from Maternal Health to Malaria to Family Planning. Our Student Missionaries have done a great job thus far of assisting in the delivery of these lessons.

We have had several community members say how impressed they were with the lectures, giving sincere gratitude for the little lessons. Most wish they knew these principles when growing up so they could have taught their children. This is not me tooting my own horn here. It is to show that even though we may see these princples as simple and common sense, many people have never been exposed to the radical idea of prevention.

Honestly though, this is not much different than in western countries. Instead of not knowing what to do, we know what to do but refuse to do it. We eat that extra side of fries at night and skip the early morning run the next morning. We stress out and freak out without any type of release.

Jamie is an awesome handyman and actually rigged the satalite for the Olympics! Sunday, I was able to watch a few events and was in awe at their dedication, skill, and even enjoyment! That is how I want to be: I want to love what I do, be healthy, and enjoy the balance of eustress, rest, fun, and food.

So here’s to the new year (well, whatever…)! Here’s to working hard but also playing hard. Here’s to giving back to the community you live in and participating in it. Here’s to just being you! Who knows, we may just end up in Brazil or South Korea for the Olympic Games!

*if anyone can tell me how to become a biathalete, I would be more than greatful. Researching here is a bit tricky.

**if someone wants to help with my taxes too, that would be awesome.

Johnny and Naomi talking about Maternal Health in Tcha-Asse.

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

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