Going Against Advice

Going Against Advice

It’s a running joke in my family that no one is really that stubborn when in reality, everyone is stubborn. It’s a wonder that we can get together long enough for one holiday sometimes. There are a couple of different types of stubborn. For a long time, I only understood the classic obstinate, get-out-of-my way stubbornness. That is, until I realized that smiling politely and doing the opposite of what is told is also one way of being stubborn.

That’s me. Lots of people tend to think that I need buckets of advice on all aspects of my life when they don’t always understand what’s going on. For instance, many of you thought I should pull out of Chad and spread my future plans out somewhere else because of malaria but mysteriously, I stopped getting it! Maybe a resistance? Or maybe I just stopped saying that I had it. In fact, I had it over this last Christmas (those who feel really sorry for me, my paypal info is on zgately.com). I have learned to listen to everyone but most of you probably know that it’s hard to convince me otherwise when I’ve made up my mind. Charis, my co-director here, continually comments on how there’s no changing my mind. My mom gave up a long time ago. So why would I change now?

Last Christmas, we took a little envoy to Moundou for our Christmas and New Year’s shopping. It was crazy hectic and most of us took a vow to never have children after that but it added to the American normalcy of the holidays; our own little Black Friday. But due to poor planning, we did not have even one working vehicle on the compound. I was bound and determined to have a little retail therapy so I said I was still going. Now, not only am I this other type of stubborn but I like to have my independence and not wait on anyone so of course, I would take my motorcycle to Moundou. I would take my friend Allahramadji but on a moto, that’s all that would fit. Well the new-ish student missionary, Zachri, was getting a bit restless as well and wanted to go terribly. Kim also wanted to go. She has a moto too but she doesn’t ride it much and the 150 km trip wasn’t something she would drive. Some how or another, she convinced herself that we should all go: Allah and I driving, Zachri and Kim as passengers.

As soon as word was out we were going, we got requests for lots of things from people here: fabrics, butter, hangers. All items unavailable to us here. We said we would try but with the motos, we had only so much space available. “YOU’RE TAKING MOTOS TO MOUNDOU?!?!?!!?” This was the standard response, similar to if I said that I was opening an abortion clinic with only a hanger, salad tongs, and my crazy great aunt’s (who use to be a witch) tea made from toenails and lizards lips. The crazy thing is that I’ve done it before without any problems. There was lots of “are you sure?” and “is it really worth it?” or “please, its so dangerous. Just hire a car!” and “can’t you just wait?” but we pushed on and broke the mold. I mean, if we had planned a little better, we could have taken a car but all the registrations were out so we didn’t want to risk the police.

We took the road less traveled (which means less paved) which cut our kilometers down to 90 and increased our time from 2.5 to 3.5 hrs. It was a beautiful drive full of National Geographic like villages, rice fields, and sand pits. We had to push through 1.5 ft deep sand, straddle previously cobbled lanes, and honk for the cows to move. And guess what, the only problems were 2 bumps that we didn’t see right away and that we had to wait for the post office to open.

One of the phrases that has come to life here was taught to me during the 2005 Auburn Adventist Academy Graduation by Mr. Thomas Allen: if it is to be, it is up to me. If I need something done, I can’t just wait. I have to push and try until it becomes a reality. As Bob Goff says, you have to knock down the door sometimes. So I’ll smile nicely and listen well but if I want something done or to do something, I’m going to do regardless. So there’s no waiting….

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

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

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Going Against Advice

Going Against Advice

It’s a running joke in my family that no one is really that stubborn when in reality, everyone is stubborn. It’s a wonder that we can get together long enough for one holiday sometimes. There are a couple of different types of stubborn. For a long time, I only understood the classic obstinate, get-out-of-my way stubbornness. That is, until I realized that smiling politely and doing the opposite of what is told is also one way of being stubborn.

That’s me. Lots of people tend to think that I need buckets of advice on all aspects of my life when they don’t always understand what’s going on. For instance, many of you thought I should pull out of Chad and spread my future plans out somewhere else because of malaria but mysteriously, I stopped getting it! Maybe a resistance? Or maybe I just stopped saying that I had it. In fact, I had it over this last Christmas (those who feel really sorry for me, my paypal info is on zgately.com). I have learned to listen to everyone but most of you probably know that it’s hard to convince me otherwise when I’ve made up my mind. Charis, my co-director here, continually comments on how there’s no changing my mind. My mom gave up a long time ago. So why would I change now?

Last Christmas, we took a little envoy to Moundou for our Christmas and New Year’s shopping. It was crazy hectic and most of us took a vow to never have children after that but it added to the American normalcy of the holidays; our own little Black Friday. But due to poor planning, we did not have even one working vehicle on the compound. I was bound and determined to have a little retail therapy so I said I was still going. Now, not only am I this other type of stubborn but I like to have my independence and not wait on anyone so of course, I would take my motorcycle to Moundou. I would take my friend Allahramadji but on a moto, that’s all that would fit. Well the new-ish student missionary, Zachri, was getting a bit restless as well and wanted to go terribly. Kim also wanted to go. She has a moto too but she doesn’t ride it much and the 150 km trip wasn’t something she would drive. Some how or another, she convinced herself that we should all go: Allah and I driving, Zachri and Kim as passengers.

As soon as word was out we were going, we got requests for lots of things from people here: fabrics, butter, hangers. All items unavailable to us here. We said we would try but with the motos, we had only so much space available. “YOU’RE TAKING MOTOS TO MOUNDOU?!?!?!!?” This was the standard response, similar to if I said that I was opening an abortion clinic with only a hanger, salad tongs, and my crazy great aunt’s (who use to be a witch) tea made from toenails and lizards lips. The crazy thing is that I’ve done it before without any problems. There was lots of “are you sure?” and “is it really worth it?” or “please, its so dangerous. Just hire a car!” and “can’t you just wait?” but we pushed on and broke the mold. I mean, if we had planned a little better, we could have taken a car but all the registrations were out so we didn’t want to risk the police.

We took the road less traveled (which means less paved) which cut our kilometers down to 90 and increased our time from 2.5 to 3.5 hrs. It was a beautiful drive full of National Geographic like villages, rice fields, and sand pits. We had to push through 1.5 ft deep sand, straddle previously cobbled lanes, and honk for the cows to move. And guess what, the only problems were 2 bumps that we didn’t see right away and that we had to wait for the post office to open.

One of the phrases that has come to life here was taught to me during the 2005 Auburn Adventist Academy Graduation by Mr. Thomas Allen: if it is to be, it is up to me. If I need something done, I can’t just wait. I have to push and try until it becomes a reality. As Bob Goff says, you have to knock down the door sometimes. So I’ll smile nicely and listen well but if I want something done or to do something, I’m going to do regardless. So there’s no waiting….

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

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

New Friend

So this year, we have had a couple of very prolific cats on our compound. After the first couple batches of calico-ish balls of fluff, I have finally caught one. His name is Cap, short for Cappuccino. On the first night, he actually curled right up and slept by my pillow. Let’s hope he says as cute and playful.

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

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

Blog: When the Grind is More of a Rut

When the Grind is More of a Rut

One week ago, I landed back in “my country.” Some things will never change about Chad: The perfume of many of the Muslims or the heavy diesel pollution that gets caught in the back of the throat as soon as you get off the plane. At least we are still Ebola free and are taking several screening precautions to prevent it (cough, cough USA).

There are many exciting things that could happen over the next few months in regards to our work here. We have some budding partnerships with ADRAs Chad and Germany, LLU School of Public Health, the US Embassy, and even our own Bere Adventist Hospital. Some of our projects include mapping our our areas using GIS technology, expanding our current projects, the recent acquisition of a nutrition center, and so much more.

With so many things, I know its going to be important to not only plan and use my time wisely, it’ll be important to take a small vacation here or there. Last year was the only time in my life that I have never traveled more than a 300 mile span for a year! So if anyone want’s to go to Egypt or Morocco, let me know! I am hoping to go to an intensive French language program to bring my skills well over the next couple of levels. Though it is expensive, I think it would be worth it for a couple of thousands of dollars to improve something so vital.

All in all, I am excited and positive! I cannot believe that November is almost here, signaling the end of another year!

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

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

Old Habits Die Hard

It’s been 3 weeks now since I blundered out of that Ethiopian flight #0500, so happy to have fast mobile internet, burritos, and English. Now I can’t say that I had terribly bad reverse culture shock but none the less, there have been many times that I forget I am in the land of the free and home of the brave.

1) I don’t have to translate into another language for my day to day duties. I catch myself thinking about phrasing, gender, and conjugation when I’m looking for an item in Target.

2) Whenever I have to go pee, I look for the closest bush or door to outside before realizing I have a regular toilet in my house. Thanks to Nick, Allah, and Kim, I’ll now have that luxury when I arrive next week!

3) I start thinking what my friends and family would be doing 8hrs behind and then realize that we are in the same time zone.

It’s been really great being able to chill with Giada and Ina Garden with my cats everyday. Though everyday there seems to be something related back to Chad, I’m still getting a great vacation.

Feel free to give me a call on my cell here: (530) 927-7970! I’ve got exactly a week before I’m flying back!

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