Meanwhile, back in Chad……

After almost 3 months in the UK on home assignment, I’ve now been back in Chad for 3 weeks. 

Thanks to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, my suitcases have only been in Chad for 2 weeks and 4 days, but I’m grateful that they eventually arrived and everything was ok inside, including my precious Cadbury’s and cheddar cargo!

It feels like I’ve been back far longer than 3 weeks. I was straight back into work at the hospital once I was back.  Plus I also welcomed a short-term doctor who has come to the hospital for 7 weeks via BMS.  It’s good to have another Brit around for a bit 🙂

The hospital is a lot quieter at the moment, mainly because it’s now rainy season and the ‘road’ is bad, so people can’t get here easily.  This inevitably means people stay at home for far longer than they should and only come to the hospital once they’re really sick and it’s been dry for a few days, allowing them to get to us.  It’s heart-breaking to see and you feel really helpless.

I’ve been busy helping out the short-term doctors, sorting out a few administrative tasks alongside our Chadian administrator and the other long-term mission worker here at the moment and generally overseeing the work of the hospital.

Those of you who keep up to date with my blogs may remember my post from early May (available here).  In this entry I posted a photo of the manually dug foundations of the new surgery centre that’s being built to increase surgery capacity.  Well work has continued apace during my time in the UK and the building now looks like this!

New Surgery Centre taking shape

Inside the main door of the Surgery Centre

All the bricks were made by hand.  The only mechanical appliance the builders use is a cement mixer.  Amazing!  The roof is now going on.

The other day I was chatting with two of our nurse consultants as they cleaned and swept their offices out at the start of the day.  There was a thin piece of string attached to a small black packet in among all the dust that one of them was sweeping out of his office.  I asked what it was and he told me that a patient from the previous day had taken it off of their body during the consultation, saying that it ‘wasn’t working’.  She had been to see a witch-doctor for a problem with her kidneys.  He had prepared a mixture (which is secret, no-one knows what is in their potions), had placed it inside the black wrapper and attached the thin cord.  The patient was to wear it so the back packet was over the area where her kidneys are in order for it to work. 
Packet of ‘medicine’ from the witch-doctor

Those of you who pray, please pray for us as we work in an environment where witch doctors are everywhere and this kind of health treatment is regularly practised.

Another ‘typical’ thing for Chad happened last week.  I went to the (now, after 6 months, almost finished) renovated post office to check our post box for mail (hint hint).  A lot of progress has been made on the post office renovations during my time away.  The area where our post box is located has been cleared of all the rubbish and nice paving has been put down.  The lean-to roof over the area has been removed (a shame if it rains but then, that’s rare here apart from June to September).  And the wall that houses the post boxes has been painted with a fresh coat of white paint.  Lovely!  Apart from the fact that the painter was a bit over-enthusiastic with his roller.  Our post box is on the end of one of the many rows of boxes.  Number 2776.  Take a look at this photographic evidence of the painter’s exuberance for making the wall gleaming white:

Yes, that’s right, it’s been painted shut!  I was silently a tad annoyed (never, I hear you cry).  The next time I was in town with two Chadian hospital colleagues I got them to swing by the post office and showed them the little issue with the painted-shut post box.  I knew they’d find a solution.  One of them disappeared saying he’d get it sorted.  We waited patiently by box 2776.  Ten minutes later I could hear my recently departed colleague calling my name……from inside the post box area!  He’d found someone he knew that works at the post office (everyone knows everyone here….well, almost) and got him to go into the sorting area where they fill the boxes with mail.  Cue me using the key on the outside and a shove from the inside of the box and the paint was loosened.  Easy.  So now I have unlimited access to our post box (hint hint).

Just a few of the many happenings since I’ve been back.  Never let it be said that there’s a dull, non-interesting moment here!