17. Tea-time at the non-sequitur café

hamraNote that none of the following pictures contain patients, and all parties have signed written consent to have their pictures included in this blog.  Of course, parents signed for les petits.


Not sure what it was that helped me turn the corner, but after a couple of feverish nights and a loose string of, well, phlegmatic days, some energy returned!  Whether it was the anti-parasite medications, a few long walks under the mango trees, good days at work, or the regime of sun salutations, vitality creeped back in.  You need it here, too.  In the same way that it’s hard to remember the summer heat on your skin in the dead of winter, after a trudge through the dregs I’d lost sight of the joy in many little things out here.  So I thought that this is what I’d write on, or just show.  The things that you do that make this place fun…

My good friend Jerry sent me a few care-packages of junk food and sundry, which included a bag of ring-pops, some original star-trek cards (odd), bubble gum tape, pez, and nerds.  This is a picture of Patrice, eating nerds for the first time.

Jochen brought a slack-line from Swabia, and we’ve been practicing our tight-rope walking on weekends.  Seriously, you you make this up?

Make a Ouaddai-tini:  
1) Go to Eastern Chad, in the Ouaddai region of the Sahel
2) Find hooch (locally called “diable” or “demon”)
3) Mix it with home-made Hibiscus juice
Walk pretty much anywhere and get accosted by jovial screaming tots 

Play soccer with them

Kidnap a wee malnourished goat, nurse it back to health for a couple of days, and set it back out with it’s kin.  Be told by one of your staff to never touch local animals because the rules of Chadian ownership of animals is “more complicated than sex between ducks.”  Look confused.

Relearn the extent to which necessity is the mother of invention

Read while listening to Ivan playing guitar under the mango trees

Say hello in the morning to Fatima, a worker at the Nutritional Center, and her twins, Safi, and Safia

Say hello to Habib and Hamra, some of our MHS staff


 Wonder after unfortunate abbreviations

Say hello to the theatre group.  This week they presented a little ditty on “family planning.”  Later I learn that Zakariah has three wives and 19 children.  He looked disappointed when he learned that I had none of neither.  You either laugh or cry.

Uh, hello-moto?

Walk through the camp and happenstance upon a volleyball game.  Be given a prized seat and asked if you want to help officiate.  Politely decline.

Hang out with Bienfait in the Health Center.

Eat some lunch with the boys

Greet the new sheriff in town

Keep on providing good health care for free

Wipe dust off your computer screen when you post blog entries

6 Responses to “17. Tea-time at the non-sequitur café”

  1. Hiba Says:

    I just spent 2 days at a “Peace, Conflict & Resolution” Cultural Psychiatry conference. I have learnt new metaphorical theory, what’s wrong with global politics, the de/reconstruction of identity and statistics of poverty & conflict around the globe. I am no further as a clinician. Not one concrete strategy with which to survive or intervene on the ground (or in the sand). Reading this blog in all its moods and tones is much more useful.
    Thank you.

  2. Marika Says:

    This is a nice way to start your new ‘middle months’ section, although you are far past your median…. It looks like you’ve found quite a few things to enjoy. Your photos, as always, are a fantastic addition to your blog. I really like your people pics…. you are getting VERY good at these. The facial expressions of the people on the pics you’ve chosen leave the impression that you are surrounded by very good people. Best of luck to you in this next chapter!

  3. Emily Bell Says:

    Hi Steven, it’s Emily here, writing from Hong Kong (bizarrely). Reading this entry brought tears to my eyes & really made me miss Farchana and all my friends and colleagues there. Keep up the good work and please greet everyone for me. I think that things are not easy over there at the moment, I’m thinking of you all every day. Emily x

  4. MF Says:

    I like the pictures it is very informative and give a personal touch. But don’t beleive everything EF told you. I am not that bad.

    Keep up the good work

  5. Kerry Scott Says:

    Hi Steven,

    I just stumbled across your blog and read the whole thing from start to finish. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain and explore everything you’re experiencing in Farchana.

    I’m a student in an MSc program called Health, Community and Development in the UK (but I’m Canadian). I’m taking a course called Managing Humanitarianism and will definitely link the other students to your blog.

    Actually, I think your blog should be added to the mandatory reading list. The issues you raise (local knowledge/Western notions of health/illness and normalcy, long term solutions/doing what you can in the direct aftermath, facilitating local responses/extending Western predefined assistance, etc…) are at the heart of everything I’m studying. This is the stuff that keeps all us development-y people up at night I suppose.

    Keep up the good work, both on the ground and in the blog. I’m inspired. (Now, to study for exams….)

    Cheers, Kerry Scott (Toronto)

  6. alison Says:

    Agree with Marika!- the expressions on your people pics and mood of the Farchana community feel good! Also to note: smiles are most often a mirrored reflection of the persons one is white-toothed grinning with…

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