Friday, September 30, 2005

Notes from Tchad # 1

Friday, September 30, 2005 9 p.m. local time, 4 p.m. EST.

Coming into N’Djamena we are at 1500 feet and only a very few lights are visible. I spot tiny little fires around. They must be cooking fires. 2PM Thursday - We leave NDJ for Béré. We were supposed to leave at 11:00. The driver was late. It took longer to register with the police and get photo permits than expected. In the city, we stop in the market to buy fresh produce, potatoes, tomatoes and the like. The market is very similar to the one some of us had been to in Peru, except different.

We are zooming down the road through small villages. People are standing on the roadsides. There is a constant horn sound coming from young kids along the side of the road. There is a beautiful sunset on the savanna. Every village has a tiny mosque. Instead of a church, they all have minarets. Sorghum is growing along the road. We see lots of broken down trucks, buses, motorcycles and bicycles along the side of the road. Most of the roads are arrow-straight. No need to curve around anything here. Now that the sun has set the road seems worst. Quiet bad actually. We come to a ferry similar to the one in Peru but again different. Our second van gets stuck going up the ramp. 45 minutes later, we make it across the river.

Africa - Not for the faint of heart. We go through a town that is having a street party in the dark with only fire light. Boom. A dog runs in front of us. We hear the head hit the bumper; then feel the 2 left wheels bump over the body. Dead instantly. We are all quiet now, with the unspoken realization that it could have been a child. We thought that the last 7 hours had been bad, but we had not seen anything yet. Even Graham, the Aussie, says he has never seen anything like this. Lakes of water are in the road. The van gets stuck 10-15 times, who knows. When we get stuck, we have to get out of the van to hook up a truck to pull us out of the lake. We are walking in ankle-deep mud. Our shoes are either off or soaked. It has been pitch black for hours. The milky-way is shining brightly. There is another van that we are helping and they are helping us. We had almost arrived at Béré, when they stopped the van and started taking people out that have fainted. Five, ages 1 to 25, with carbon monoxide poisoning. We transferred them in our van to take them on to the hospital. They have been traveling for 3 days, about the same as us. There are 18 or 20 in the small windowless van. We have been traveling in relative comfort, except the last 13 hours.

We arrive at Béré. No lights. We unpack our 2000 pounds of luggage. Micky and I get to bed around 3:30 am.

The ordeal of last night was made up for when Steve, Micky and I go out and play in the street with about 30 or 40 kids. Steve has brought along a Frisbee. We play this for 30 minutes or so. Then Micky starts singing with them. They jump rope with the rope that Steve has brought. All is brought back into focus when we go back to the house. James and Ken are in surgery. A lady has come in with a still-born baby. She has a ruptured uterus. They do a c-section. This is her 12th and last baby. The thunder storm in the distance is getting closer. Steve, Rick and Bob have their tents under the mango trees. They don’t far too badly. The lights are off as I write this. We are sweating and drinking lots of water. We are having the experience of a lifetime We will see you again, in 12 more days.

Bye for now,
DJ and the Béré bunch

Road to Béré

Road to Béré

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Béré Adventist Hospital Mission Trip


A small group of us from Markham Woods Church will be leaving Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, September 27 (returning on October 12) for the central African country of Tchad. We know this country here in America as Chad. Our destination is a remote hospital. There are 14 of us going on this adventure. We are nurses, a doctor, a carpenter, construction contractors, accountant, computer engineer, and others. The primary purpose is to do maintenance on the buildings, deliver medical equipment and provide in-service training to the staff.

Béré Hospital’s website:

My Béré web site:

Here are two maps:

Tchad: of

We are flying into the capital N’Djamena where we will be spending the night. The next morning, there is a 6 hour trip by van to the southeast about 200 miles to Bere (not on the map) between Kelo and Doba.

While in Béré we will be sleeping in mosquito net tents on the grounds of the hospital under the mango trees. We will be taking with us most of our food, construction supplies and tools we will be using, and medical supplies that we have collected. We are in hopes of taking with us a laptop ultrasound that the local Doctor James Appel can use at the hospital and out in the country side.

We will be sending newsletter updates, if and when possible. If you are receiving this message, it is because someone from the group has requested your name to the added to the group list. We all are requesting your prayers for this short-term project and even more for the long-term on-going work at the Béré Hospital.

Bye for now.