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
+235 91122492

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

A Regular Week in the Life of a (recent) Public Health Graduate

A Regular Week in the Life of a (recent) Public Health Graduate

Written on 30.SEPT.2013

Many of you have just recently joined me on this adventure but some have been with me from the conception of zgately.com, of the journey into the field of public health, and a couple of you from the conception of me (literal laughing out loud here)! It’s been a wild ride and I never would have expected it to end up exactly like this. I knew I couldn’t stay in one place, let alone one country. So then of course, I choose one of the most confusing countries to work in: Chad.

Chad is a predominately Muslim country in Africa. It looks like its in Central Africa but depending on who you are talking to, it could be East, Central, West, or North Africa. It is number one for worst communication infrastructure and number two for most corrupt. Cholera and malnutrition victims sit right next to diabetic and heart attack patients. The double health burden is real here.

But it’s not all odd. Every day I see children playing on the playground and mothers singing to their babies. Little girls still have attitude princess problems and little boys still like to play with cars and bikes. There is family structure and there are regular routines.

My routine is still getting set but I’ll give you a proposed run down of what happens (or at least what is planned) on a weekly basis:

  • Sundays start off slow. This is my time to really catch up on what needs to be done. In the afternoon, we prep for the week followed by a vigorous game of volley ball.
  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday mornings are prep, planning, researching, dreaming for that week and the future.
  • Wednesdays are dental days. We do oral health education as well as learn how to pull teeth.
  • Monday afternoons are general health education at the hospital grounds for patients’ families.
  • Tuesday afternoons are nutrition classes with a food demonstration for the hospital’s patients’ families.
  • Thursday afternoons are spent in the quarters of Béré, meeting with Community Health Workers and Traditional Birth Attendants. These two groups of people were trained by Béré Adventist Hospital about a year and a half ago. We hope to work more with them over these next few months.
  • On Friday afternoons, the CHW and TBA come to the hospital for additional trainings.
  • Friday nights, we have vespers, often in the new pavilion on the compound.
  • Sabbath school and church are just about the same as back home which of course is followed by potluck. We usually have themes for each potluck to keep it mixed up! We’ve had Italian (I made a tomato & cucumber salad), Mexican (salsa), and this week is breakfast (I’m torn between potato hash or pancakes).

So that’s my week! I hope now to inform you all of the day to day happenings that really touch me in a special way. I want you to see the unusual that makes me excited to get out of bed every day as well as the usual that makes me realize we are all one people, regardless of our social, cultural, and religious background.

I wish that I had the time to write a detailed account of what happens on a daily basis but I, sure that many of you would roll your eyes every time you opened your inbox if that were the case. I’d love to hear your questions and comments and words of encouragement! Though Internet is tricky, I can get to my email at least 2-4 times a week. As you noticed at the top, the majority of this was written earlier this week.

Love to all from this random corner of the world!

Zachary Gately

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

Public Health is Important too!

*DISCLAIMER* I have lots of medical students as friends, I respect their ambitions, I see the importance of the career, and I know they work very hard to earn their medical degree. With that being said, please read with understanding.

I am not new to the notion of spending holidays away from my immediate family. I have spent every holiday away from family at least once, due to both choice (ie, I wanted to go travel) and to distance. Regardless, I can say that I am extremely thankful for my family, as they have supported me throughout the myriad of locals I have lived in and career choices I have brought up.

This Thanksgiving was one of those distance holidays. I had school on Wednesday so there was no way I was going to drive the 10 hours home for only 3 days. I am lucky to have my aunt, uncle, and cousin living just down the road but they weren’t doing a traditional meal this year since 1) my uncle is British, 2) who wants to cook all those dishes for only four people, and 3) we are all vegetarian. Our new family tradition is to make gourmet pizza, drink Martinelli’s, and eat apple pie. There’s much less clean up and we can move afterwards.

Still wanting some yams, dinner roast, and hot apple cider, I ventured over to the second annual “Orphan’s Thanksgiving,” reserved for those whom do not have immediate family within traveling distance over this short break. There we dived into a traditional dinner, complete with a deep-fried turkey, green bean casserole, and so much more food. The highlight had to be a dessert combination of cookie dough, double-stuffed Oreos, and brownie mix baked together.

Since Loma Linda University is a world recognized instituted (and SDA’s have lovingly called it the Adventist equivalent to Mecca), we had students represented from every school who could not go home for this holiday at this Thanksgiving feast. Among them, there were two medical students who caught my attention as they were saying their good-byes. They found out I was in public health and did the whole, “Oh. That’s nice,” with a sympathetic smile.The first medical student proceeded to name the one person in the SPH and I happen to have all my classes with him. He is also in medical school, taking a year to do his MPH in preparation for a career in infectious disease. As the conversation continues, the first medical student mentions that, “it is a nice certificate. A really good add on.” Now, I have worked both with doctors who love public health or don’t see any point in it and I can see where they come from.

But let me tell you: I am working hard for my master’s level degree. I have taken all the same science classes as the medical students as well as the MCAT but found that public health is where I want to be. I plan to continue to work hard in my field, taking care of what doctors do not have time to do.
The other medical student also shot himself in the foot as he continued to agree with the first medical student on how they don’t have time to really learn how evidence based medicine really works. He literally said that it was a good thing they had a recent MPH graduate on their research team or else they could not have found out if any of their research was even significant without her expert knowledge. If he did not have the time know learn how this works (mind you, this was during the summer which means no classes) then I am worried for when these student start practicing medicine. I want to know that my doctor has a solid understanding of why and how and if a medication or procedure will work, not just a hunch that it will work.

This situation is one of many I have recently had of how others with (or in this case pursing) higher degrees, neglect to recognize the importance of public health in the medical task force. It brought to mind several thoughts that I am personal having trouble dealing with. The largest one is what am I doing after I finish? I love public health. I also am very interested in the clinical aspect of health. I also love research, organization, traveling, history, etc., etc. The list could go on but I am still heavily considering a career in medicine, politics, or straight public health. The lack of awareness about public health in medicine both attracts me to and detours me from it.

The Thanksgiving medical students were just the example how both fields need to be better educated of the others’ world and how they need to work better together rather than so far apart. Public health needs medicine and medicine needs public health. So regardless what career I end up in, I will always have the respect to acknowledge and respect someone’s career/educations choices rather than saying it’s a nice addition.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.” 1 Corithians 12:27-31


High schoolers and Global Health

It’s been a busy two weeks! I finally made it to the beach this year and it will not be the last! A group of the new Global Health cohort wanted to visit the golden coast and we could not have picked a better day. Clear skies with a slight nip in the air provided the proper person-to-beach proportion. There were a few naked Europeans wading and inner city kids who didn’t know what to do with the water but over all it was simply a calm in the midst of a busy quarter.


With midterms last week and finishing up my telemarker job for the School of Allied Health (I hate calling and asking for money!), I was ready for that extra hour that daylight savings provided. Even then, Sunday was crazy busy with our quarterly My Campus event. This event focuses on minority youth in the local inland empire, exposing them to the health science professions, and mentoring them. This quarter was uniquely great due to the fact that the School of Public Health was featured. Since I am a Student Association Representative and I work for our Community-Academic Partners in Service (CAPS), I was recruited to lead out in our Global Health Booth.


As the high school students rotated around to the different booths, we had many of them very interested in Global health. The students’ aspirations varied from those who didn’t want to graduate from high school to others who were dead set on becoming neurosurgeons. Thankfully, most students seemed very interested in global health and what it could do for them. They were thrilled to know how Global Health could be added on to their current dreams of physical therapy, nursing, medicine, dentistry, or business. Later in the program, there was a “speed networking” time and most of the students had a great deal more questions on how they could incorporate Global Health into their lives.


It is encouraging to see that so many people are interested in Global Health. The most important thing that I wanted these students to realize is that that Global Health is not so much a degree as it is a life choice. A Global Health Professional is simply someone who works with a variety of cultures in some aspect of the health field. Research based or clinical practice, it all comes down to a life of service and a drive to work in a culturally aware environment.