Bahai beach

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bahai Beach 1

Bahai, july 9, 2006

Dear friends,

One week in the country and what a week it has been !
A calm start with a flight from Amsterdam to N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. The local club scene has potential with one or two discos and open air restaurants/ drinking holes. The one I visited (Carnivore) has live music, a local band and plenty a singers and dancers. Mustapha the driver and I chitchatted about the IRC and Chad. Sunday I spent visiting the market and eating at a Lebanese restaurant. Early next morning with a World Food Program airplane to Abeche which is a city in the south east of the county. It has a population of 72000 and many many NGO’s, UNHCR and the French military. It is the nerve centre for all the refugee camps in Eastern Chad. Due to the conflict in Darfur about 200000 refugees have spilled over from Sudan into Chad. There are about 12 refugee camps run by different NGO’s. The international rescue committee runs the most northern one near Bahai beach. It is called Oure Cassoni and has about 29000 beneficiaries. After one night in Abeche I flew with a teenie weenie aircraft to Bahai. From the air one sees sand, wadis (dry rock formations which from time to time contain water) tiny settlements and Acacia like trees. At the airport I was picked up by Pascal the logistician in one of the Toyota landcruisers. He is an American chap with a wicked sense of humor.
Whisked to the lovely compound (photos will follow) were the first surprise was awaiting me. I got the George Clooney suite! (try or google Bahai+IRC) Any hair I find shall be sold on E-bay soon) At present our team is in transition but in Bahai we have about 7 male expats (from Kenya-Eritrea-Tanzania-Italy-USA-Burundi) After about 2 days shit hit the fan. About 35 local youths (including sons of the Sultan) came into the office armed with sticks and demanded jobs. It took the local gendarmerie and UNHCR 2 hours to get them out of our office and free our national and expat staff. Another common crime here is carjacking one car a month gets stolen from the different fleets available here. For now part of the program will be shut down and talks are being held at all levels to sort out the issues. The camp I have seen but once due these security issues but it looks ok. Two years and some permanent structures are up amongst a health post, health centre, maternity wards, schools. My job responsibilities have been adjusted as well: I am now the Public Health and Clinical Health Manager. In the team there are about 2 translators, two assistant managers, 4 Chadian nurses and in the camp; 39 Community Health Workers, 3 Team Leaders, 1 Supervisor and 6 Sudanese refugee nurses. John Kwenda, the present Health coordinator is giving me a two week handover to explain budgets, the program, the context etcetera. As some may have noticed there is internet facility when we have the generator on i.e. working hours in the office and perhaps after working hours in the compound. Therefore I can skype-msn messenger-yahoo. Our non local national staff (about 40) are staying in our compound for security reasons since the incident. Yesterday we watched Germany thrash Portugal as we have Camerounian tv reception. The food is ok to good – only thing missing is fresh fruit but what to expect in the desert. At night one can gaze at the stars. And during the day play with refugee children. The health status of the camp is not at all bad but always on the look out for outbreaks as there have been in the past: thypoid fever – mumps. Well it is 0700 in the morning now I am off for breakfast. Wish you all the best around the world and do drop a line when you find the time my yahoo-hotmail-gmail may all be used. The IRC e-mail address I shall keep for work only

Love and Truth---Namaskar Ashis

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