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!

Advertisements

Photo updates!

Caught in the rain in our makeshift umbrella.

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

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

Diana practicing her selfies at lunch time.

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

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

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

Half-way and Demonic Possession

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trying to Pack a Pachyderm

Packing has always hit me hard. It’s the one area that I am ever so slightly OCD about. Packing for a weekend requires at least a basic list and one repack. If I am packing for a week, the list is a bit more refined and requires probably one to two repacks. And when I am packing for trip requiring special equipment like a suit or cold weather layers, I have been know to repack upwards of five times. So, as I am preparing to pack for two years, should we take bets on how many time I will rewrite and repack? Hmmmm…

So I’ve been able to find most things on my (current) list: hammock, insect repellant clothes, tooth paste, multivitamins, toilet paper, biodegradable soap, iPad, and maybe a few pens. But the other essentials like underwear or socks or sheets or meal replacement haven’t shown up in my shopping cart yet. These items are needed before I leave this current home as there are no Targets or Whole Foods Markets in Béré, Tchad. Four weeks should be enough to find it all, right?

Moving to another continent for a new job in a different culture without online shopping is going to be a life changing experience. Not necessarily in the iconic “I-live-in-a-developing-country-so-I-have-an-even-stronger-savior-complex” experience that people share up front at church about. I hope to develop my skills of a communicator and program planner. Throw in French and basic Arabic along with a smattering of local languages and I’ll truly never stop talking. Writing, planning, administering, and evaluating a grant funded project will most like cause a few mental break downs followed by amazing data that can hopefully change the way public health is viewed in this region.

I’ve never been to this region of the world but I can tell you that I am ready to see what happens! I may not be packed yet, but as I walk on to that plane as it departs Reno International Airport and try to get some rest on the following four flight, I know I’ll be ready for that adventure!