Friday, 19 January 2018

All in a day’s work at Guinebor II Hospital

Monday 8th January 2018.  Just another standard day here at Guinebor II Hospital.  I thought I’d paint a picture of my day in words, so that you can glimpse a little bit more into my world here at the mission hospital in the desert!

5.30am – my alarm goes off and I dozily press snooze.  The temperature is currently ‘cold’ for Chad, around 15C in the mornings, and it’s so nice to be under my blankets at this time of year and I want a few more minutes under the covers.

6am – I finally drag myself out of bed, eat a bowl of muesli (imported from France by a supermarket in N’Djamena) and drink a strong cup of coffee (imported from America by friends!).  I read my Bible and commit the day to God.

6.45am – I walk the 200 metres from my house to the staff room where we hold our morning devotions.  Pastor Djibrine the hospital chaplain leads some (slow and out of tune) singing and gives a short talk.  We share prayer requests and one person is allocated to pray for the prayer requests/praise points and someone else is requested to pray for the day ahead.

7am – all the staff working that day congregate for our weekly staff meeting.  It’s here that we share information together and hear important news.  Information about patient charges is discussed.  The hospital director reminds staff that two important meetings regarding the running of the hospital are planned for Friday and Saturday and that the heads of department need to pass their reports for 2017 to him as soon as possible. Christophe (nurse) sadly informs us that his uncle, who he’s been responsible for caring for during illness, had passed away.  Stephane (accountant) announces that his wife had their first child the previous Friday, a boy.  ‘Now I’m a Dad like the rest of you’ Stephane proudly says.

7.30am – I head back to my house to grab a bottle of water to carry around with me during the day.  I still drink a lot of water even though it’s colder.  Just not the 6-7 litres that I drink in hot season.  Tabitha, my house helper, has arrived and has started running the water into the big laundry bowls.  Monday is laundry day at my house and Tabitha meticulously washes all my week’s laundry, by hand.  I point out a pair of thin cotton trousers that I’ve been wearing in the house in the evenings and ask Tabitha to wash them carefully and not with too much exuberance, because else the elastic will break (Chadian-made clothes tend to be from tougher fabric and with little or no elastic involved, so can withstand the rough hand-washing that’s common here).

8am – I spot Eric (one of our regular visitors from the USA) in the distance and I walk over to him to ask him a maintenance question.  One of the wholesalers we buy medicines from has recently given us a gift of some signage for the pharmacy (a nice black sign adorned with ‘Pharmacie’ and the green pharmacy symbol).  I ask Eric whether he could please attach it to the wall outside the pharmacy.  Eric enthusiastically agrees to do so later that day.

8.30am – Audrey (our Chadian head of pharmacy) and I discuss what stock is running low.  I ask him to order some more iron syrup from one of the wholesalers in town, as we’ve run out.

9am – I pop into the administration office to say hello.  Dieudonné (Chadian administrator) is busy typing up his report for our annual board meeting planned for Friday.  He asks me to remind him of the names of the visiting doctors we’ve welcomed to the hospital in 2017.

10am – it’s time to drive into town (N’Djamena) to run a few errands on behalf of the hospital.  Steve (from BMS in the UK) arrived a few days ago and one of his suitcases didn’t arrive.  We’re expecting it to have arrived on the flight that came in last night.  So first stop is the airport.  After being security-scanned, I enter the baggage reclaim area.  I speak with a few airport officials about the missing bag and then wait in line behind a local Chadian soldier, who is still waiting for his suitcase to arrive from when he travelled on 23rd December (poor guy).  Eventually it’s my turn and after searching through the bags stored under the stairs (the storage room is literally ‘under the stairs’ – mind your head!) we find the suitcase and the guy tells me that my boss will be pleased that I’ve done a good job today!  

Next stop is the Post Office, to see whether there’s any mail for us.  We chat with the staff there about the possible strike they’ll go on soon if they’re not paid (apparently it’s been 4 months).  We come away with a Christmas card and a medical journal but alas, not the parcel we were expecting to have arrived.  

Next job is to buy local mobile phone SIM cards for Eric, so that he can access the internet and speak more easily with his family.  This involves speaking to the guy we regularly buy mobile top-up credit from (Abakar) who eagerly helps us out.  

Next up is a quick stop at the biggest supermarket in town.  The reason being that it’s currently the cheapest place to buy hydrogen peroxide from, for use at the hospital.  I buy 10 bottles, ensuring I get the necessary receipt for reimbursement.  We hop back in the car and head back to the hospital.

On the dirt-track portion of the road back to the hospital, we think we spot the nomad family who we befriended last year, but who had moved on during rainy season.  Is it them?  We’re not sure.  We stop and get out to see if it is.  It is!  With my limited Arabic and their limited French we ascertain that they arrived last night but that the rest of the family is coming to join them at some point.

1pm – after a quick bite to eat, I pop back to the hospital to see how things are going in the pharmacy.  A member of staff from the operating theatre comes to the pharmacy with an order for supplies, ready for a busy day in the theatre tomorrow.  I get together all the things he’s requested and then ensure that I document it down on our manual stock records.
On seeing that I’ve returned from town, Elisabeth (Chadian pharmacy assistant) calls me over.  She’s succeeded in repairing a 500 CFA note that was given as change to Debbie (my team mate from USA) by a shop in town, but that was basically in two halves.  Elisabeth is a pro at gluing the money back together with the aid of a glue stick!  Voila, the note is usable again.

I pop into the administration room to hand over the receipt for the hydrogen peroxide I bought in town.  Dieudonné tells me that he had a call this morning from the ministry of health – our partnership document was finally signed and ready for collection!  Great news (we’ve waited since February 2017 for this document).

2.30pm – I head back to my house to check my work emails and respond to anything urgent.

3.30pm – I head out to the washing line to pick in the last few bits of laundry that Tabitha did this morning.  Most of it was dry before she left at midday and was already off the line, but the towels take a bit longer to dry.

4pm – I hear the noise of goats close by.  Teammates bought some goats in the rainy season to eat some of the grass that grows up in the area of the hospital where we’ve not yet built.  Someone had left the gate open and they were roaming our gardens!  I quickly shoo them back to where they’re supposed to be.

5pm – I go and visit my teammates at their house across the way.  On coming back to my house I hear another teammate’s voice outside and then some light gunshots!  He’s got a BB gun and is try to reduce the pigeon population around our houses (they make a right noise).  I later hear that he’s successfully reduced the pigeon population by one – that’s tonight’s dinner sorted for him then!

6.30pm – all the visitors and us long-termers at the hospital eat together.  It’s good to all be together and chat at the end of another long and busy day.

Thank goodness it’s only a maximum of 30C at the moment!

9pm – I fall into bed and sleep, in preparation for another 5.30am alarm


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Questions (and answers) of my life, 2017 edition, part two

Here’s part two of my Q&A blog entries.  Thanks again to those who asked questions and I hope the answers help to give you a bit more insight into life and work here.

What could any of us in UK actually ‘do’ for you…..in addition to prayer and parcels and emails! Would you find a visit positive or would all the arrangements etc. be too much?

Receiving emails and parcels is always a highlight for me!  Prayers are always needed too.  Visitors are always welcome!  There are very few people willing and/or able to come and visit Chad so I’d never turn an offer of a visit down.  Yes, there’s a lot of work on both sides to arrange a visit but it’s so encouraging to me to see people from home (plus they bring lots of treats!!).  Also, if people actually come, it gives them a much better insight into my life here.  There’s only so much I can portray in words and photos.  It was great to have a team of six, from two churches in South Wales, here for a week at the end of October.  In February 2018, two people from my home church in Torquay, along with my parents, are visiting for a week, which I’m really looking forward to.

I know that a few people are visiting you in Chad early next year - what would you REALLY LOVE us to give them to bring out to you?  Obviously nothing too heavy!!

This is going to sound really bad, but from experience, it’s always a bit dangerous answering a question like this!  Not in a bad way, I’m obviously really grateful for treats and gifts from home :) I’ve learned to give a range of things rather than just one, else I end up with 20 packets of cheese sauce mix!!!  Not that that’s a bad thing.  It’s just that it takes me a while to get through it all and I’ve a limited repertoire of recipes calling for cheese sauce mix! (Feel free to send me some simple ones by email).  For the record, I’ve enough cheese sauce mix and fajita mix to last a while!  Hmmm, ideas of things to send:
·         those really small concentrated fruit squash bottles (Robinson’s squash’d is one brand) as when you’re drinking many litres of water, it’s nice to have something to flavour it with
·         a packet of jammie dodgers
·         some face wipes
·         a pot of chilli powder
·         handwritten letters or cards
·         a magazine
·         cheddar cheese (strong)
·         any Cadbury’s chocolate (Cadbury’s is my favourite!)
·         bacon
·         car air fresheners
·         DVDs of recently released films (I’m mainly into mindless chick flicks as a form of escapism!)

Thank you :) 

Do they celebrate Christmas in Chad and if so what does a typical Christmas dinner look like?

Yes, Christmas is celebrated here.  December 25th is a public holiday (but 26th isn’t, so it’s back to work!).  In Chad, both Christian and Muslim holidays are celebrated through the year and they’re all public holidays.  On the Muslim holidays, the Christians just have a day off at home and rest (some may visit their Muslim neighbours).  On the Christian holidays, the Muslims just have a day off at home and rest (some may visit their Christian neighbours).  Christmas is extremely low-key here.  No commercialism means you can really focus on what’s being celebrated.  I’m typing this at the start of December and there is one supermarket intermittently playing Christmas songs, there are no decorations up and in the shops there’s very little for sale that’s Christmas-related.  Christmas will arrive and go the next day and life will carry on as normal.  It never ‘feels’ like Christmas here to me.  It’s hot for a start which is bizarre.  But as I say, it does mean you can focus on the ‘reason for the season (day)’.  For a Chadian, Christmas dinner will depend on how much money the family has.  Those who can afford it will get a sheep or a goat and kill that to eat with the wider family and neighbours.  Others will just eat standard Chadian food.  For us missionaries we try and do something a bit different than the rest of the year.  Last year we had cheese fondue on Christmas Eve for example!

The selection of Christmas merchandise
in one of the bigger supermarkets in N'Djamena

How do you keep your spiritual side fresh?

To be honest, often with difficulty.  I attend a Bible study in English most weeks and international (English speaking) church every-other week.  I go to a local Chadian church the other Sundays.  I'm glad to have now found a good, sound, solely French-speaking Chadian church to attend.  A lot of Chadian church services can be a mix of French and a local tribal language, so I've no hope of understanding anything in those services.  As English is my 'heart language' I feel I can engage with God better when the worship and teaching is in English as opposed to French.  A lot of the time in French services I'm too busy concentrating on understanding what's being said for it to properly permeate, if that makes sense?  I have sermons in English downloaded that I can listen to on my computer.  I have good Christian friends here who I can chat to if needed, and thanks to the wonders of technology, I can chat via WhatsApp with friends and family back in the UK too.

What specific things can we pray for you at the moment?

This leads me nicely to let you know that I recently published a prayer letter!  If you've not seen it, click here to find it on my page on the BMS website.  You can sign up to receive my future prayer letters by email, by clicking this link and filling in the form.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and new year!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Questions (and answers) of my life, 2017 edition, part one

Thanks to those who sent me questions about life and work here in Chad.  I was sent too many questions to answer in one blog post, so here’s part one.  Part two will follow in a while.  Hope my answers give you a bit more of a flavour and idea of life here :)

Can you give us an update on your solar fridge?

Indeed I can!  Wednesday 8th November 2017 was a big day for me here.  I was able to decommission my (semi) trusty gas-powered fridge and plug in an electric fridge!  The gas-powered one worked of a fashion but never got really cold and in hot season, hardly worked at all, meaning that at the time of year when I’m drinking 6-7 litres of water a day, I was having to drink tepid water.  Yuk!  We’ve not got mains electricity here in Guinebor and so, thanks to generous people at my home church, I was able to buy solar panels and associated kit in order to generate electricity via the sun (we’ve an endless supply) to power an electric fridge.  I was literally jumping up and down with excitement when I plugged it in and I am still grateful every day for a fridge that works well.

Posing next to my new fridge

How’s the French and Chadian Arabic going?

The French is going well, I’d say I’m probably almost fluent now.  I definitely speak a more basic French than a French person would and I have a very anglicised accent.  However I can communicate well in French now and only have to consciously think about what I’m saying when I’m trying to say a grammatically complicated phrase such as ‘if he’d have done that, it would’ve have been much easier’.  That kind of thing.  The Arabic on the other hand has kind-of stalled for the moment, which I’m frustrated about.  I’ve only had one lesson since coming back from home assignment, for a variety of reasons.  I’ve been out to the village of Guinebor II twice, with a member of staff, to visit someone in their home so that I could hear Arabic being spoken.  I understand more than I can speak myself but it’s still something I’d love to get a better grasp of.  Ciyya ciyya (little by little).

Do you feel the lack of Arabic is an issue?  You are, no doubt, very comfortable in French now, but do you often feel limited, perhaps particularly in being able to communicate more deeply with patients?

Every. Single. Day.  I can communicate with about 5% of patients in French.  That’s it.  So yes, it can get really frustrating not being able to communicate in Chadian Arabic with people.  But I remind myself that I used to feel like that with French.  So one day, hopefully I’ll get there with the Arabic!

What is the most difficult thing about your daily work?

There’s no one thing to be honest.  Often the thing I find most difficult changes from day-to-day.  In hot season (March to June) it’s the heat that’s the most difficult thing.  Other times it’s my lack of Arabic.  Other times it is frustrations linked with differences in culture.

What is the best thing about being back in Chad – what is fun/who is special?

The perpetual blue sky (now that rainy season is over) is always a delight.  It’s great to be back with my Chadian hospital colleagues and work alongside them and hear about their lives.  My Chadian pharmacist colleague got married last Saturday and it’s been interesting to hear all about his wedding plans and associated stresses (it all falls on the guy and his family here).  Unfortunately he got married in a town a long way away and a lot of us couldn’t attend, but he’s probably going to have another celebration in N’Djamena in a couple of months’ time that we can go to.  We’re currently in the process of all buying his ‘wedding fabric’ so that when we go to the celebration, we’re all identified as being part of the wedding, as we’re all wearing the same fabric!  It’s interesting that at a wedding here, you’re expected to wear the same fabric as everyone else.  In the UK, women especially are mortified if someone else turns up at a wedding in the same dress as them!

What's the hardest thing about life during the wet season (July to October)?
The mud and all the swamps and lakes that suddenly appear on the road into town, making the drive ‘interesting’.  Also, the risk of malaria.
How many people live in the vicinity of the hospital and how do they provide a living for themselves?

There are a lot of people living in the vicinity of the hospital.  It’s hard to quantify but probably 200 – 300 people.  They provide a living by one of the following means:
- Running a small shop selling basic staples
- Selling cooked meat from a little stall
- Selling sandwiches and tea from a little stall
- Selling vegetables at the local market
- Rearing goats and/or sheep
- Operating a motorbike taxi or car taxi
- Working at the hospital

What do you have against Ziploc bags?

Haha!  Those of you who read my blogs will know that I've joked about my American friends just loving Ziploc bags and it amuses me!  They store just about anything that will fit, in a Ziploc bag.  I can kind-of understand if they travel and it's a liquid.  It's a good idea to store your bottle-of-whatever-liquid in a plastic bag in case of spillage.  However my American friends seem (to me) to take it a tad too far.  See picture below.  Why would you need to store packets of tissues, where the tissues are already in plastic wrappers, in a Ziploc bag?!

Tissues safely stored!! ;)

What do you think God is doing in Chad today and where have you seen visible expressions of God's Kingdom in your work?

God is definitely working here in Chad in a variety of ways.  We often hear of one or two people in different areas of the country, from the majority faith, becoming Christians.  It's often through friendships built up, that people come to a realisation of who Jesus really is and what He has done for them.

At the hospital, we see people being healed when the situation looks dire.  We've seen a lady healed from mental disturbance as a result of prayer.  We see the expression of God's love played out in the way our staff welcome and treat patients.  Some relatives get irate at the hospital gate, if they want to visit their sick relative in hospital and it's not yet visiting hours.  The guards have to show immeasurable patience with these people.  We try and instil in our staff that we're here to be different than other hospitals, to work well together as a staff team, to give the best care possible in a clean and tidy hospital and to treat people with dignity and respect.

That's the end of part one.  Watch out for part two of this blog coming soon :)


Thursday, 19 October 2017

Expect the Unexpected

This phrase would easily sum up life here in Chad, and probably in a lot of other countries too.  I think I’ve become so used to expecting the unexpected now that it doesn’t really faze me.  It’s now my norm.  I’m much less bothered by lack of regularity and order since living here.  As such, trying to think up examples to tell you is proving difficult, as they’re all just normal, everyday occurrences now!

In no particular order, here are some recent examples of me needing to expect the unexpected:

One

I recently went on a two week holiday to Kenya, which was much needed and which I enjoyed immensely – mainly because we were by the sea.  I got to the airport a good two hours before the flight was due to leave, only to be told check-in was already closed.  Knowing that if I didn’t get the plane I’d have to wait probably another couple of days for the next flights, I was slightly panicked.  But nowhere near as much as I would’ve been five years ago.  Turns out that the flight had been brought forward by an hour but I wasn’t aware (turns out an email had been sent, 30 minutes before the revised check-in closure time…...).  I wasn’t the only one who’d not ‘received the memo’ and they kindly opened check in again and checked us in.  It was still an hour before the plane was due to leave at its earlier departure slot.  I had my quickest ever passage through N’Djamena airport and got the plane.  I was very happy.  Though not so pleased to learn that the reason for the earlier departure was that we were off to Kaduna (Nigeria) first, before Addis Ababa (Ethiopia, where I was transiting before heading to Kenya).  Those who know their African geography will know why I wasn’t amused at this fact – yep, we were going 1.5 hours in the wrong direction, to then head back again across Chad and over to Ethiopia!  The journey from N’Djamena to Addis Ababa usually takes around 4 hours but it took us 7 hours with this little extra bit tagged onto the journey.  Fortunately I was staying overnight in Ethiopia so the delay didn’t affect my ongoing travel plans.

Two

Just before I left for my holiday, I was sitting on my front veranda reading, when I saw something moving outside out of the corner of my eye.  I looked up to see two ducks (and upon further looking in the grass – yes grass, rainy season – about five ducklings) just ambling along.  Where the heck did *they* come from?!  We live in a gated compound, it’s not freely open.  Who knows? C’est le Tchad (It’s Chad.  An explanation we use here for when there’s no explanation).

Ducks just wandering around

Three

A week before I left for holiday, I was visiting a friend in N’Djamena.  A journey I’ve done many times before, I know her house and the surrounding area well.  After parking up outside I got out and was locking the car door.  A man approached me.  Nothing usual there, people often come up to greet and/or try and sell something.  Then a handgun appeared.  Wasn’t expecting that.  Well, I kinda was actually, as there have been many muggings mainly on white women here in N’Djamena recently.  See this blog post from my friend who describes her attack a month ago.  I can remember thinking ‘it’s happening, it’s happening’ as the gun pointed at me and I stumbled backwards into the mud (still rainy season).  The guy wanted my bag, which was slung across my body in the way we’re all told to do so people can’t snatch it off your shoulder.  A couple of yanks on the strap later (whilst I was screaming at the top of my voice, thinking someone would come and see as it was only midday) and it was broken.  Off he went on the back of a waiting motorbike.  Off I went shaking violently into my friend’s house.  I’m pleased to say I’ve no major negative after effects from the attack although I am a bit jumpy at times. 

Four

I got back from holiday just under a week ago.  In the two weeks I was away the rains have really stopped and the ground has dried up considerably.  I went behind my house to check my garden, realising that I was going to have to start watering it again now for the next seven months until it rains again.  Two of my plants we missing!  Yep, just like that, two have disappeared.  Who knows where they’ve gone?

Where did the plant go?

Five

Yesterday we were clearing out one of the storage containers to make some space.  I’d enlisted the help of two Chadian colleagues to help me and to take the rubbish generated to the burn pit at the far side of the hospital compound.  Due to the nature of what we were throwing away, I said ‘make sure it’s well burned’.  A while later one of them proudly reports that he’s set light to it and it’s burning well.  Great, another task completed.  I was just off to check on the second guy who was helping me out when I looked in the distance and saw billowing smoke.  Normal to see that above the burn pit.  Not however for about 50 metres *outside* of the burn pit, complete with flames licking around the now dried-out grass that had grown during rainy season.  Cue frantic searching for people to put it out.  Frantic on my part.  Not on the part of the Chadians!  They have an uncanny way of remaining calm in almost all circumstances.  Not a lot fazes them.  I was shouting ‘rapidement! rapidement!’ (‘quickly! quickly!).  One of them kind-of broke into a slow jog.  Twenty minutes, many buckets of water and some tree-branch-thrashing later, it was out.  Phew.  I was grateful for the fact that the wind was in the direction it was, as even though the fire was a fair way from any buildings, if the wind had changed direction it probably wouldn’t have taken long to spread towards the hospital.  First to have been torched would’ve been our new surgery centre building that I mentioned in a previous blog.  

Surgery centre coming along nicely

Life is never dull here, that’s for sure.

My next blog will be question and answer blog, as I’ve not done one of those for a year.  Write any questions you have for me about my life and work here in Chad in the comments box on the blog, or send to me via email and I’ll do my best to answer them (no promises though!).

Friday, 25 August 2017

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!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Two homes......the sequel

Dear Chad

Three months ago, I was sat in your dusty, hot, dry climes, typing a letter to the Western world.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to find it being back in my ‘other home’.

Now, I’m just five days away from returning to you, and I’m wondering how that will feel.
I’m going to sit in that metal bird (aka aeroplane) and in the matter of about 10 hours, be transported to my ‘other home’, in a completely different world.

Yes, I’ve been in my ‘other home’ for almost three months.  I’ve enjoyed copious cups of Costa coffee (I only had to go to Starbucks once, cos there was no Costa at that particular service station!), I’ve eaten lots of bacon, I’ve eaten lots of cake, I’ve spoken English 100% of the time, I’ve felt cold almost the whole time (and mostly enjoyed it….either that or I made myself enjoy it because it will soon be an alien concept), I’ve seen lots of the UK on the 3,500 miles I’ve driven to visit Churches and tell them about the work at Guinebor, I’ve enjoyed fast internet, I’ve enjoyed knowing how things ‘tick’ and how processes work, I’ve caught up with a lot of family and friends and I’ve made fun memories to take back with me.  

I’m looking forward to seeing all my Chadian colleagues at the hospital.  I’m looking forward to seeing my friends who live in N’Djamena.  I’m looking forward to seeing more blue sky than I can shake a stick at (!).  I’m looking forward to getting back to ‘real life’, as it is for me now.

However, since I’ve left, you’ve started rainy season.  Oh joy!  The humidity!  The mud!  The lakes and ponds!  I’m grateful that I’ve a more powerful vehicle now to power through on the ‘road’ into town.  I really dread getting stuck, although I’d soon find people to help dig/push me out, I’m sure.  I can’t begrudge you the desperately needed water and irrigation.  It will be strange to see the desert landscape that I left in May, having been transformed into a green pasture that will last a few short months. 

So Chad, I’ll see you soon for our next epic adventure at the hospital in the desert (currently green, watery, muddy quagmire)

UK passport holder returning to Chad

Friday, 26 May 2017

'It's SO hot!'

....says everyone around me.  Everyone's in flip-flops, shorts and t-shirts, whereas I am wearing socks, full-length jeans and a couple of tops.  Can only mean one thing!  Yes, I am back in the UK for home assignment!

It's been great to enjoy the (relative) cool and not be sweating.  It's lovely to see green grass and the sea.

The beautiful North Devon coast at Woolacombe


I've a fair few Church visits coming up during my home assignment, as well as some rest.

I thought I'd list where I'm speaking and when, in case anyone is nearby and wants to pop along, it would be great to see you!  I'll mainly be talking about my life and work at Guinebor II Hospital

Sunday 28th May - 7pm - Upton Vale Baptist Church, Torquay
Wednesday 31st May - 7.30pm - Oldham Baptist Church
Thursday 15th June - 7.30pm - South Molton Baptist Church
Sunday 18th June - 11.15am - Kirkwall Baptist Church, Orkney
Friday 23rd June - 12pm - Lydbrook Baptist Church, Nr Gloucester
Sunday 25th June - 10.30am - Stroud Baptist Church
Sunday 25th June - 6pm - Moriah Baptist Church, Risca, South Wales
Sunday 2nd July - 10.45am - Robert Hall Memorial Baptist Church, Leicester
Sunday 2nd July - 6pm - West Hucknall Baptist Church, Nr Nottingham
Saturday 8th July - 6.30pm - Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend-on-Sea
Sunday 9th July - 11am - Canvey Island Baptist Church
Sunday 9th July - 6.30pm - Westcliff Baptist Church, Westcliff-on-Sea
Tuesday 11th July - 2.30pm - Folkestone Baptist Church
Sunday 16th July - 10.30am - Penrallt Baptist Church, Bangor, North Wales

I'm looking forward to meeting people who have supported me whilst I've been in Chad and share some of what's happening there