Winter is Coming

Winter is Coming

As I looked outside the other morning, I saw a white dusting had fallen. Everything was covered! The sky was grey and I could barely make out the distant palms. Could it have been? Had Sub-Saharan Africa succumb to the climate change and we had snow? It was almost Christmas! Did Santa come early?

That would be great but no, it cannot be snow. It is a literal dusting. The winds from the north (the Hammadamramlam winds or something like that) are bringing down sand and everything is covered. I watched as dust blew in my open window, covering my newly painted table. My allergies are all out of whack and I haven’t had clear sinuses for months now. Its not as bad as southern California but Zyrtec is still my best friend.

The year has come to a close. We celebrated Christmas with a nice Christmas Eve program that Kim (whyweshouldgo.blogspot.com) collaged together using songs and Bible text to tell the nativity story followed by the Christmas classic “Its a Wonderful Life.” Our celebrations kept going! Even yesterday we invited our friends and families to watch “The Grinch” in French. It was quite silly and everyone enjoyed the exaggerated performance of Jim Carrey.

Not only has it bee a great year with new experiences and friends, we have made great progress with our programs here:

We have expanded to manage a nutrition program
Relationships have been formed at all clinics in our district The dream of a mobile clinic has been put into practice
Our Community Health Volunteer Program is referring more people
Communities outside of our own are approaching us to visit them with our health education programs

I am actually most excited about of those five things: the mobile clinic and the communities approaching us. The mobile clinic has been a dream for so long but due to blockades at the government level, we were never able to do them until now. We need to raise some initial costs to really get it flying but I have faith that it’ll come in.

With the communities coming to us, that implies that people have been sharing their experiences with those around them. We had all of our dental cases for 3 weeks referred from one village. People are beginning to see the value to invest in their health.

I am encouraging you to help out a little. Invest in their health as well. Ok, so maybe I’m doing more than encouraging: we need YOU to keep these programs going and YOU to really start the mobile clinics. We need YOU to take out that credit/debit card or mail that check. We are tax deductible so head on over to ahiglobal.org to make your donation! Just make sure to label it “Bere Project 21.”

Happy Holidays! Hopefully I’ll be better about blogging now that the internet is doing a little bit better…….just a little though.

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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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

Times a Flying!

Nearly a year has passed since I left one remote village in the Sierra Nevadas for another remote village in the middle of Africa. Talking with friends last night, it finally hit me: I’ll be on a plane in less than 4 weeks now! There is so much to do!

But this morning, I looked outside, expecting (and hoping) for a bit of rain. Not a lot but just enough that I wouldn’t have to go teach sabbath school in the villages. I know, I’m a bad missionary. Instead, I look out and see fog. Instantly I am transported back to a time of simplicity and a place of nostalgia: my grandparents’ beach house on the Northern California Coast. Located right on Highway 1, we got fog regularly. One night we watched the God’s Must be Crazy. I was amazed at the end when he was higher than the cloads. Shortly after, We drove into the coastal mountains and as we reached the top, a fog bank came in and I saw what it was like to look out over the cloads.

Now I understand not only how cool cloads and fog are, but I see how the gods really must be crazy. There are things that I never thought I would understand and there are things that I thought I could never understand here. I saw how things were done and all I could do was wonder how in the world did they come up with that explaination. One example is snake bites:

On of our Traditional Birth Attendents describes to us this pain she is having. Now, let’s all remember that I am not a doctor and have no clinical training except for how to pull teeth (and that’s even a bit sketchy at times…). But I have had my fair share of normal ailments. She describes a pain that sounds just like a sinus infection. Sinuses are a hard topic to explain because it is difficult to show someone what they are. She asked me very seriously if her pain was caused from a snake bite 14 months ago. People told her that it probably was because she was helping people and the tradditional healer didn’t like that so he sent a snake to bite her.

If she had told this to me last fall, I would have probably laughed and told her not to worry about it. But even after 11 months here, I had to stiffle that laugh and seriously tell her not to worry about it. If the snake had truly been poisoness, she would have felt the effects long ago. She is in the clear and should try a saline sinus wash daily.

From the time of Adam and Eve, snakes have been seen as negative omens. This is shown in the anamistic beliefs here. If a snake bites you, you’ve pissed someone off. You don’t go to the doctor but you stay home with different leaves and mud. Theres not much else that can happen at the hospital but they can at least keep the fevers down and the patient hydrated.

Its fascinating to me to hear where modern medicine hits with ancient beliefs. This happens among the educated and the medically inclined. The frustrating part happens when they go to all the trouble of trying to fix something that can’t be fixed but won’t take quinine and tylenol for malaria. When health proffesionals here still believe that killing a chicken will stop a blood clot or that walking in the rain will cause malaria.

Some things are ingrained so deap, it is hard to even start to change a view. It brings up images of a dream within a dream: Inception. The best way we do this happens to be with farming metaphors. Thankfully, my grandparents are farmers and I have had my fair share of little gardens in the past. We ask what happens when you plant your crops too close together and they respond that they get a lower yield, they are sicker, and generally, its a bad thing. We then talk about family planning. There are lots of ooo’s and aaaaahhh’s as they see the importance of saving money by spacing out children. Then we recenly had to add a part about working the land and caring for it. They were all about it and when we said you have to take care of women the same way, there were several shouts of joy and a few looks of shock.

When it came to sleeping around, one man asked, “Well what else are we suppose to do if our wife won’t give us their vagina?” We then launched a mini topic on how sex works, how women take longer to get going, and how that if they made her feel extacy, that they would have no need to go look for other vaginas. A common phrase is “my penis won’t let me sleep” so it soon becomes an excuse for a man to whore around. This then, of course, spreads diesease, most commonly HIV/AIDS and yeast infections.

Litterally, it must be something in the water because everyone and their mother seems to have a yeast infection. Men included. Circumcised. Usually, yeast infections come from an unbalanced flora/fauna habitat in a woman’s body. This can be caused from too many antibiotics, hormone levels, and other contaminates. Men then contract it from the women and can spread it to other women. Of course, this also means that it can happen to even a women who is not sexually active. But for the man to get it, you have have plunged into an infection or two. There is no monosat (or whatever that drug is) here in Chad. Our translator, Naomi, has been trying to get a yeast infection clinic going but its been difficult to obtain large quantities of the vinigar and lime juice that she uses for treatments. Thankfully though, she is doing something to help her community. People come with their 3 wives or one night with their wife and the other night with their girlfriend. From people who work in the field to high poloticians, Naomi with treat them all.

So even though there is some crazy medicinal ideas, some natural remedies actually work. Naomi is using those to treat. We try to inception-ize people to understand that health is more than medicine. Its about a healthy community, good education, oppotunity, and an understanding of what makes up health. As I prepare to go home, I think about all the stuff I have to do, both here and once I’m home. I’ll have to do some fundrasing and some relaxing. If you have any ideas or want to help, just let me know: Nous sommes ensamble. We are together.

Zachary Gatelyzchgtly
zgately.com
+235 91122492

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

Late in the Season

So my friend Allah is sitting here making me feel like I’m back in high school with his choice in music. I’ve been putting off writing this blog for no real reason other than sheer laziness. It might be because the Internet has really been acting up until recently or that there have been a few things that aren’t terribly blog worthy or that I never quite know how I feel about this place. Complaining never helps and especially with the Internet, it can never be taken back. So this’ll just be a general update and maybe I’ll through in a few crazy stories involving bribes, police, the lack of Ebola, Boko Haram presence, Ramadan, rain, and Lil Wayne.

Last I talked about was May, full of babysitting and other craziness (wow….my bad). In June, we had a few weeks of training for our Community Health Workers and Traditional Birth Attendants on nutrition. Sarah Macomber(goingwheregodsendsus.wordpress.com) is a Registered Dietician who assists in the nutrition center down the road from us and did an amazing job entertaining as well as educating our health workers. They loved her example of a tree for the food groups. As a parting gift, everyone got a mango tree (the good one, of course) to remind them of their lessons as well as a point to explain that health isn’t an overnight change. You won’t get fruit from your tree tomorrow but you still have to water and fertilize it today.

The city of Béré has 21 neighborhoods with approximately 38,000 inhabitants. We delivered health lectures from January to April in each one. We worked with our health workers and the chiefs to get them set up and the community really appreciated the information. We decided to expand our health education out to surrounding villages. For the last few weeks, we have been out in the village of Tchoua teaching. Our feedback has been incredibly encouraging and we have thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks to a generous donation to the hospital’s tree project, we have been able to continue the theme of “Health for Tomorrow” in our lectures.

We have had several people come through recently as well from all over the place. Of course, BAH has a close working relationship with Loma Linda University School of Medicine.Three second year medical students from LLUSM spent their summer here rounding and assisting the doctors. We currently have three other students: two medical students from Denmark and one nursing student from Poland. I hope that they all have gotten their appetite wetted for a life of missions. Masha is a nurse from Toronto by way of India who heard of BAH from a previous volunteer (Janna Wagner). Her goal is to eventually work with Doctors Without Borders and being a pediatric nurse here for the last 2 months has thoroughly prepared her to tackle malaria, typhoid, malnutrition as well as assisted in her French skills (I’m jealous because she is learning so fast!!!!). Mason and Kim McDowell are a long term family who just arrived in June. Mason is a nurse anesthetist and Kim is a stay at home mom who doesn’t stay at home so much. Her girls are always asking us where she is since she has taken over the nutrition program while Sarah is on annual leave. She’s grabbed the project by the horns and people from all over the state have been coming to her to find out how to make their malnourished children fat. Charis and I have been assisting in the preparation as well as the lecturing while she handles the numbers and consults.

So that’s the quick and dirty. I’ll throw in a few more stories later this week Internet permitting! And in case your wondering, there is no Ebola in Chad and we haven’t heard of any BokoHaram recently….

Zachary Gately

zchgtly
zgately.com
+235 91122492

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

Look at it go!

Wow! Some fun things happening here! With Danae’s parents on annual leave, I’ve been filling in for babysitting a couple of times a week. That hasn’t stopped me from still getting out and adventuring!

The three little Arabs! Raïsa, cousin Karin, and Diana playing before bath time!

Arabic Diana. She’s started to speak gibberish. I guess that’s what happens when each parent speaks 5+ languages.

Addison with a calabash rice bowl on her head in the swing. She doesn’t like naps.

Zane and Addison helping me collect clothes before it rains. We just barely made it!

An impromptu funeral stop. One of our midwives died within the our of us casually arriving for other business. Lots of wailing, grown men crying, and shouting on the first day.

Saturday afternoon we drove to the Monkey Forest. It’s full of vines and trees but no monkeys that day. Chad has a deforestation problem and it was a surprise to see so many non mango or palms.

Sunday we returned to “sit” at the funeral for our midwife with the rest of our crew. We sang, said our condolences, and started a mini insurance group.

Not sure when I’m coming home but I was preparing some bags just incase its sooner than later. Crazy colors!

I know you probably don’t think so but it’s getting greener here!

Found this little guy just chillin by the sidewalk.

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

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

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