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

Shaking Hands with a Leper

Living in Bere has opened my eyes to how it was like in biblical times. The stars come alive living in a city with no electricity. The Fulani people carry their houses along with all their possessions on the backs of donkeys (in N’djamena they use camels but rainy season is too long here for them). The houses are made from mud and the roads are unpaved. James Appel brings much of this alive in his book “Children of the East.”

Yesterday, Naomi and I were going around to the last few quartiers on an announcement run when we remembered to ask about a friend of Tammy’s. Tammy has a program for those in need. In return, she takes their picture and asks them questions about their life. She had made contact with this particular man but when she went to return, her translator had left and began spreading rumors that she was exploiting these people for her personal gain. Hurt, Tammy was all the more determined to find him again but after 4 months without a hit, she had all but given up.

We had found one of her other friends by accident last time we went around to the chiefs. He was demon possessed when Tammy met him. His brother had chained him to the wall of the house so he wouldn’t hurt anyone and he had shredded all of his clothes. When we met him, he was clean shaven, washed clothes, and for sure, was not possessed. As we passed this same quartier, we asked the chief’s son if he knew anything of Tammy’s other friend. He pointed down the road and mentioned a landmark. We followed and low-an-behold, we found him. He had leprosy. He is missing half of his digits on his right hand. He only has heels for feet, wrapped in thick plastic. His gums are painful to look at and it is evident his sight has been gone for some time. He scoots over on his rice-sack mat and welcomes Naomi and I here.

I am speechless and Naomi is about to cry. We tell him that we are happy to see him and that we have been looking for him. He speaks of God’s grace and his worries for his family. He thanks us for visiting and wishes us to return.We reaffirm that this was only the beginning. We had some gifts that we had purchases but since we couldn’t find him, we couldn’t deliver. We blesses our route and we are on our way, speeding back to tell Tammy about our find.

We head back out to him a couple hours later with a bag of rice and the other gifts. We just sit and listen to his story. He was previously pastor and he was one of the only members of his family that survived the war that ravaged the country of Chad 30 years ago. He told us the only reason he is living today is because he tucked his Bible under his arm as he fled for his life. When caught, his captors released him saying they couldn’t kill a man of God.

His leprosy has stopped its progress and his condition is relatively stable, though unreversable. He talks about how his biggest fear is that his kids will make bad decisions. Already he thinks his son-in-laws are studpid. He worries for his wife and for his grandchildren. But at the same time he begs for God to take him from this world. He has seen so much hurt and experienced so much pain. Yet, he is possitive that God is there actively working in his life. God is taking care of him and God will continue to provide.

In the end, we’ve nothing but time to give. We must spend it wisely but also be willing to spend it with others. We can control so little in the world but we can share ourselves with others.

I know I haven’t written much lately (hence the photos earlier) but life has begun to get mundane. I send of some emails, feed a dozen malnurished kids, practice some French, and forever am sweeping my house. Among many things, shaking hands with a man with leprosy helped me realize that I cannot get too comfortable. I don’t want life to pass me by while I sit there thinking everything is normal. I must live life and look for the moments that can’t be done over as time will always keep passing us by. Like I said, life here reminds me of biblical times. Its simplicity and love of time together as friends and family are some of the biggest reminders.

*movie recomendation*
About Time. It is very nice, if not just for the English countryside.

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

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

Desole!

My Friends! It has been so long since a post so I though the best way to keep you all interested is with some pictures! There are a couple posts in the making so stay tuned for more adventures! Until then, Enjoy!

Shannice took care of Charis while she had 6 liters of fluid put into her frail, giardia ridden body!

Daniel and I completely cleaned out the SM hut with bleach and insecticide. It was quite a task!

Daniel and his children. (He’s been busy since arriving, no?)

Papa and I at Sarah’s surprise birthday party.

In a matter of minutes, i broke out in a rsh that covered my body. By the next morning, it was gone! #whenintchad

The blood bank at the hospital was out of blood so we all donated! First time for our new SM Johnny!

My mom arrived, ready to work with Maranatha as they completed the Nursing school. She brought me a coffee maker, bless her heart!

And here is a selection of the colorful mats available at our local market! I had to buy a bunch for the AHI ceremony that took place Friday. There are so many more awesome colors and patterns available in Moundou and NDJ.

I hope this satisfies your curiosity for thee next day or so as I finish up those posts and get them out! Take care!

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

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

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

Crash and burn

This Friday evening, it was my turn to do vespers. Since I talk about a quite comical experience that happened this week, I though you might enjoy the story as well as the message.

Confidence

We all need confidence. A healthy dose of self confidence is needed in the work place, in school, art, and relationships. Confidence is a bit like having trust in yourself. You know you can accomplish x, y, and z without problems. It may not be easy but you have trained, practiced, or bs-ed your way far enough to know the hang of it.

Yesterday, I had my confidence shattered. After trouble with one moto, Daniel, Josh, and I set out for the river on the other. We missed the first turn, and me not knowing the little roads all over decided to try to go to the river the same way I had previously returned. We hit some sand but it wasn’t too much of an issue: the extra weight and flat tires aided in our still vertical state so we just kept put-putting along. Out of nowhere cows started running along the road. No problem. They weren’t attached to anything and moved out of the way. Sighs of relief came out but were quickly caught as more cows attached to a trailer were headed for us. We edged over to the right but we hit sand, ran into the bushes, finally hitting a dense woody bush. Locals are laughing at us as we are trying to bend things that shouldn’t be bent back into place. We think to call Jamie with the truck but don’t want to bother his work. Maybe we can push it but with that Desert African sun beating down mid afternoon, it seems like unnecessary exercise. I decide to see if I can start it even though the starter can’t rotate the full circle to start. Imagine trying to start a lawn mower with only half of the pull cord. It goes!

We are determined to make it to the river. We pile back on and head off. No sign of cows but its pretty sandy. The moto seems a bit loose all over and keeping it balanced required more upper body strength than expected. We’re going, we’re going, and Daniel gets excited. “No problem, we got this!”

No wood to knock on, of course.

Bam! Next thing I know, I’m on my left side in the grass with Daniel’s leg sticking up by my head. I have no idea where Josh ended up but I told them to just leave me on the ground for a moment. Confidence completely shattered. We decide to walk the sandy part. Once the ground hardens, Daniel gets on so I can take him to the river and come back to get Josh. We seem to be headed in the right direction when we see a un passable puddle I put my foot on the brake only to realize there is no foot brake! We coast off to the side and I quickly shift down enough to use my feet to break. We surmise that it must have come off in the bush we ran into the first time, and causing the fall. We take the next turn and finally that cool breeze from a large body of water hits us and we come upon a sweet cliff to jump off. I head off to get Josh and in no time (comparatively to the rest of the journey to the river) we are back jumping off into the river. We float down, climb a tree, jump, and repeat a few times.

On the way back there were no accidents but without a brake and it still being sandy, we alternated riding and walking. I offered many times for them to ride and I would walk but after seeing me go down, the didn’t even want to try in the sand.

I was bone tired when we arrived back to the compound. I just sat as my bruises reminding me of the day. I though I could do it but I guess I haven’t practiced enough to match my confidence. But in time, I will have no problem riding in sand. I have all the sand I need to practice.

The question is, what was I putting my confidence in? My skills? My abilities? The quality of moto? The hardness of the ground?

I often think of the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengths me.” I prayed this prayer and claimed this promise many a late night study session and before a race. But in reading a book about prayer, The Circle Maker, I now realize how shallow that prayer usually comes out. I know that if I had studied more three day before an exam rather than three hours, I could have done better on my own without extra strength from Christ. Not that He couldn’t miraculously open the pathways between my mind and my finger tips but if it is something that I can do, why would I waste my breath on asking God to do it? What if I instead used that same breath to ask God something that I cannot do on my own? The battle of Jericho, Elijah, and Peter walking on water are all great examples of assisting in times of great need that could not be accomplished without divine intervention.

It take confidence in ourselves to both work hard for something as well as pray for God to intervene. We then have to give Him the glory because there is no other way to explain the miracle. Attempting something you have never done or following a dream or going along with a mental prompting all take confidence, both in God and yourself.

In high school, I was told during a graduation speech 10 syllables that have changed how I proceed:

“If it is to be, it is up to me.”

At first, I thought it was selfish and cocky to use this but as I have grown (and matured a little, right?), I have realized that seriously, if it is to be, it is up to me. I have to be the one to reach out and make a connection with the famous author. I must train for that 10k if I want to place. And I must pray if I want God to help on the impossible.

It’s not an “I don’t need God” attitude. It’s a “If I think it should happen, I need to take action” attitude. We must go boldly before the throne of God. In the parable of the talents, the master want them to use their talents for increase, add in a bit of creativity, and have something to show. They all received something from the master and had to do something with it. He honored those who did something.

Sitting on our hands waiting for things happen won’t work with God. Pray hard and work hard. We must take the talents allotted for us and use them for Gods glory. We must have confidence that our God can do the impossible. We must have confidence that we can carry out His will for our lives. That much prayer with deepen your relationship with Christ and transform your life in a way that you can only praise God for!

Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life! (1 John 2:24, 25 MSG)

Zachary Gately
+235-9112-2492
zgately.com

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

I am not a Chadian Woman

I am not a Chadian Woman

*written 31.OCT.2013

I have been thrilled that many of you are enjoying my blogs at zgately.com and via email. Some of you have asked what I have been doing more specifically, what difference am I making in the lives of the people here, and how you can help out in anyway. I know many of you have been sending up prayers (even the small quick ones do wonders!) because it has now been 2 weeks since my last sickness! I’m still not gaining weight like I want to but after the daily banana shakes for the next few weeks, I’m sure I’ll look a bit healthier.

Like I said in my other post, it has been hard on all of us newbies these past 7 weeks (yes, I can’t believe it either!) as we have had to adjust to a different way of life than we were previously use to in the US of A. Today we were reminiscing that we would be crashing some sort of Halloween Party, following tomorrow with complaints of how product based Christmas has become but secretly excited that it is nearing that time of year! We have all began to love our families here and keep learning language, culture, and practical ways of living from them on a daily basis. Things have become a bit routine but we still continue to live and dwell among our new community.

For the past three weeks we have been trying to coordinate with our translator, Naomi, to join her for a Chadian meal. She was planning on teaching us how to cook and eat like a local but every week someone was sick and we couldn’t learn from her! Even so, Tammy wasn’t able to join us due to some recent issues with the school (check out her blog at parkers4bere.com) but we made sure to bring enough of it back with us for her to enjoy!

Our menu consisted of three things: boulle, l’oze sauce, and budu sauce. First, Charis and Shannice began cleaning the rice. The went over it thoroughly to pick out any unhusked kernels, rocks, bugs, or anything else that didn’t belong. Josh and I stemmed the l’oze leaves and cut them. Daniel and I also pounded the dried melon seeds into a type of flour, sifted, then added egg, salt, and garlic to make a dough. We started to make the budu sauce by adding oil to a pot on a charcoal fire, throwing in garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and salt. Once that had simmered for a while, Charis and Shannice took the dough Daniel and I prepared and threw it in piece by piece, resembling boiled dumplings. Once cooked through, we added the budu leaves, cooked it down, and took it off the fire.

The rice was finished and we washed it in water, letting it sit in the sun to let it get soft. We started the l’oze sauce the same way as the budu but without peppers. Once the rice was soft, we pounded the rice into rice flour just like the melon seeds. We used a giant mortar and pestle but our weak Nasara bodies couldn’t keep up with Naomi and her sons. She has four of her five sons living with her at home while one is in Nigeria, attending high school. She is a single mother and also took in her sister’s daughter. Naomi and her middle son felt sorry for us and just continued pounding while we were getting tired just looking at them. Half way through pounding and sifting the rice, we began to add the l’oze leaves to the pot of garlic, tomatoes, onions, and oil to cook them down with some minerals to take the sourness out of the leaves. The sauces were basically done, with only the boulle to be finished. We pounded 2/3 rds of the rice into flour, leaving a third of the rice partially broken down. We had to stoke the fire to get a huge 15-20 liter pot of water to boil, then we added the partially broken down rice to the water. 10-13 minutes later, we added the rice flour to thicken it. Naomi was the only one who could brave the smoke from the fire to keep stirring the rice mixture so the boulle wouldn’t clump. Once cooked, she used nice gourd bowls to shape the boulle into pizza dough like balls.

Now we were done! We washed our hands, called the five of us, Naomi, and her five children over to have grace. We dug into our hard work without reserve! To eat, you must take a piece of the boulle (thick rice mixture) and dip it into the sauce. We all burned our finger tips as we rushed in without waiting for the boulle to cool. We were all smiling and laughing. It was 4:15 pm. We started cooking at 12:15 pm. How did it take so long to make one meal? It didn’t matter that there were 11 of us as each step would have taken just as much time to complete, regardless of the amount.

We talked about it on the way home how we are not Chadian women. They must work so hard to prepare such a simple meal. We had fun doing it but looking at how much we did vs. how much Naomi did, we were pretty close to useless. Naomi continued to unintentionally make us realize how lucky we were to be born in a country with Campels, Uncle Ben, Aunt Jemima, and Betty Crocker. She told us how she makes this meal 3-4 times a week. It helps put her kids into a food coma so they go to sleep early. Once they are taken care of, she gets out her head lamp to make mud bricks to build her new, two room hut since her current two single room huts have unfixable fissures down the walls. If she is too tired from working during the day, she’ll wake up at 4 am to make bricks. She also maintains a field of edible flora for those who cannot feed themselves.

She, like us, was once a Nasara. She was born and raised in Nigeria by her Nigerian mother and Chadian father. She was use to a normal teenage life, excelling at school and sneaking out to Michael Jackson concerts. When she became of marriable age, her father wanted to be sure she was paired with a proper Chadian husband. He arranged it all and shipped her here to Béré, where he was originally from. Being the man of the house, her husband expected her to cook boulle, clean, do laundry, earn money, and produce sons, all while he worked on and off, drank, and beat her. Four boys and one on the way later, she was a single mother, climbing mango trees and boiling water just to feel something warm down her throat. She had her last son at the L’Hopital Adventiste de Béré and someone realized that she speaks English quite well. She was offered a job as a translator and has been working with the hospital and its affiliates ever since.

You may think this sounds outrageous! Where are the social workers, the attorneys, or the police? How could her family allow this? Didn’t her neighbors see something to report it? But here in Chad, this is the norm. Naomi said she cried for weeks after arriving here. She cried from the smoke in her eyes from cooking boulle, she cried for her native Nigeria, she cried for her abusive husband. But she had to keep going. She had to feed her kids. She had to make money some how and finally knowing 9+ languages has paid off. Tammy offers her an umbrella or even a ride when she is headed home in the rain. Naomi just scoffs, saying, “Why? I am not salt! I will not melt away in the road. It is just water!”

This attitude of survival, determination, and reality is one many women here have embraced but many other have not. They allow their situation to role over them like their abusive husbands. We all should embrace this phrase as we go about our day. You can only wallow so much before you must stand up tall and realize you are not salt.

Today, one of my friend’s nephew’s past away. He was less than a year old, the product of a shot gun wedding, leaving a young mother and father devastated. Yet, this is also not unusual. Many families do not name their children until they reach two years of age because the death of a child is so common. What can you do and what can you say in this situation? How can you make a difference when see people in these situations? Is health education going to make a difference if all they what is the demonstration food? How do you change a mindset? How do you show them that they are not salt?

I am not a Chadian woman. I cannot work 4 hard hours to prepare a simple meal. I cannot be treated lower than a husband’s whores or his liquor bottle. I cannot deal with having 5 children under the age of 4 years old, nor having 10+ births with only 4 living children. I see the struggle and it is more real than the chair I am sitting in. This week has been an eye opening experience. Emotionally, mentally, and physically draining, but rewarding nonetheless. Naomi is one of our closest friends. She opened her home, we beatboxed with her kids, and we shared a meal (preparation and all) together like family.

I am left this week with a deeper understanding of the lives we are trying to help. I was not born here, therefore, I will be a Nasara for many months to come, leaving me out of the loop linguistically, culturally, and every little nuance that makes life all the more interesting. Slowly, like a child, I am learning. Little by little, I grow and can connect with my new community on a deeper level. Keep us all in your thoughts and prayers as we are budding Chadians. It has been awesome thus far and I cannot wait to learn all the ways that I am not salt.

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

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

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
zgately.com
zgately
+235-9112-2492

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

The First Few Days in Béré

The days are flying by and it is all I can do to keep track of what day it is. We left off at the end of Tuesday night after that harrowing ride down from N’Djamena and getting settled in. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of learning the project, the language(s), the culture, where to do laundry, how to buy essentials, etc., etc. I cannot believe all that has happened so please stay with me as I try to recount how it has happened so far.

Wednesday started with and early alarm clock to be ready for breakfast by 7 am. Tammy said she would take us over to our host family that would be feeding us and introduce us. Charis and waited but didn’t see her so we wandered over to her house and found out she probably has typhoid. Sickness is very real here, even if you have been here over 4 years like the Parkers. Allah, the son of a hospital worker and our neighbor, walked us over to do the introductions. By that time it is almost 9 am so the sun is fiercely high in the sky. We are ushered to sit under the sprawling mango tree to keep us cool as we have our first go at local food. Breakfast consists of tea and gatos. Gatos are not cats (Spanish) but are more like breadier donut holes. The compound that we are eating at is split between two brothers: Duliga and Kebdiga. Their wives cook us the food and depending on the meal, it could be in one compound or the other (they are connected). Duliga is the vice principal of the SDA school here and Kebdiga is a nurse at the hospital. Duliga is also studying in Cameroon but works every couple of years to keep up with the cost of education (PREACH!) and that they cannot take out loans. He has two daughters, Raïsa (5) and Dianna (3) who we attempt to practice our limited French with while we eat. Raïsa already speaks French, Nansurai (the local language, spelled wrong I’m sure), Arabic, and her mother’s language. Dianna speaks Nansurai and dances around a lot.

The food has a rice base as their stable carbohydrate. There are usually different sauces that go on top. The most common is red sauce, which is potato, pepper, onion, garlic, other spices, and peanut oil. Everything is cooked in peanut oil! Another common sauce is l’ozae, which is made from a local green. For breakfast we usually have bouille (sounds like bwhee), which is a rice porridge. The tea is extremely sweet! Between the tea and eating limes like oranges, many of the local people have very poor oral health.

After breakfast, we headed back over to the designated student missionary (SM) hut, where we have access to a flush toilet, a shower, as well as a kitchenette, for worship with the SMs. We got the day started right and then set off to our tasks of getting our living situations set up and learn more about the project. The main project that we are working on is called Project 21. It is an all-inclusive health lecture and practice series that trains Community Health Works (CHW) and Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA) to help their quarter as some what like a really good mom. They would be the ones to refer to the clinic or if it is more serious of a situation, then to the hospital. Béré has an ambulance now so, if needed, they can get to the hospital very quickly. The 21 part comes from there being 21 quarters in the Béré district. We will be focusing on these and hopefully within the next few months.

That took up most of the morning. Following lunch, we, Charis, Marci, and I, went out to all the quarters to speak with the delegates or head of each quarter to invite them to a meeting on Friday to update them on what we would be teaching their CHW and TBA. This was our first motorcycle experience here and it was great! Later this week we’ll be learning how to ride to increase our independence.

It was quite invigorating to meet with the delegates at their homes as well as see the community we will be working in. I can only hope (thanks Allison!) that our work will go smoothly and well. You all will have a role in that as you keep us in your prayers!

Wednesday night, we had nice debrief to better understand everyone’s roles at Béré. Tammy made sugar cookies (a treat!) and we ice cubes in our drinks (I really don’t know which was better). In another blog I will recap with all the abbreviations, names, and other pieces of information to help you better understand day-to-day life here.

The following day started out very similar with breakfast at our host family’s house, followed by a morning of learning, meeting, and understanding more about the projects and culture. In the afternoon, we went followed up with getting any more necessary items from the market and went more in depth into about what we want to accomplish over the next three months.

Friday was the big day for our meeting with all the delegates from the 21 quarters of Béré. In the morning we had to go register with the MCD. He is the one in charge of all health related personnel in the surrounding region. We had to take copies of our diplomas (thanks Mom for scanning it) that did not arrive until after we left for Chad. After a lot of talk and making sure that we were not trying to be medical doctors or anything else clinical, we headed back to prepare for the meeting. Tea and gatos had to be brought over to the pavilion (check out what the hospital compound is like on google earth) as well as a basin for washing hands. Even after a huge down pour that kept Charis and me in the hut of our host family, all the delegates came to hear what we had planned for their quarters. God really blessed us for how well the meeting turned out. As you can see, He has kept us in business so far: passing police checkpoints, travel safety, broken down bus, unity, and so much more! Since being here, I have been reading the devotional Jesus Calling. My grandmother made sure I had a copy and it has been a huge blessing to my daily routine.

Friday night ended with a simple vespers service where we gathered and sang songs, ate popcorn and recounted our blessings throughout the week. Tammy and Jamie keep giving and giving of their hospitality, I don’t see how I’ll ever be able to repay them (especially without an oven of my own!)!

So much more has happened from Saturday until now (Wednesday morning). I’ll keep you posted!