Bahai beach

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bahai Beach 34

Bahai Beach 34


January third two thousand seven.

Dear all,

In Douala there is a main square called Hotel de Ville. It was there near a fountain I was playing checkers with one of the local men. Suddenly hue and cries. A white Ferrari rolled up and the boys and men in the park went crazy. It was Djemba Djemba a football player from the English Premiership. As his car was about to be trashed he handed over a huge bundle of money and sped of like grease lightning. And then it was like inferno hit the quiet park. One of the men had received the bundle and he ran to the public toilet. There he was besieged by about 50 men and boys demanding their share of the money. The ruckus caused disturbance to focus on the ongoing checkers game and I duly lost. I must say however the only game I won that day was because my host decided it was embarrassing to end the day with a zero. Riot police now popped up to keep the crowd of about 100 under control. I managed to slip in to the public toilet as some of the money was dispersed. No money for me however. The poor guy who received the money by now was only wearing his shorts as the rest was torn of his body. Seriously crowbars and stones were about to be used.

Money so funny….

In the camp in the mean time everything must be fine. Every day bad news is coming from Darfur where now the big cities are under siege as well. Effectively leaving the refugees or IDPs without access to the essentials. Perhaps they will come over to the Chadian side now. It seems here there is a lull in fighting with major groups signing peace agreements. Yet the camp has managed to transfer a pregnant lady to Bahai and then Abeche for a caesarean. The baby died but the woman survived. And a victim of a robbery got shot in the abdomen and evacuated to Abeche as well. Vaccinations are ongoing as are the consultations and health promotion activities. A self running system with minimal expatriates and national staff. It is sure now that a lot can be done bye the refugees themselves.

Being away now for several weeks now has given a chance to reflect.

Truly the refugees are underestimated at all times. They are true survivors, knowing all about desert life. We operate with more than 15 expatriate posts. It sounds so much to me. As a general rule the less people involved in decision making process the smoother things run. In other organisations people have the same sentiment. Somehow the activities that need to be done are done. For sure some other activities will lose out but what to do in a security environment like this. For me a lesson learnt is that I prefer small teams. A next mission my first question will be how big is the team? The second one: how difficult are the refugees perceived to be?

Forget about difficult… Zaghawa are easy they just know what the want. So if they are constructing houses it means they are preparing to slug it out in the desert some more.
Whenever I ask why the pick such a difficult environment to live in the answer is simple. This is DarZaghawa, our homeland. This is as close as we can be to our real home villages. And this is the lifestyle we are habituated to.
The camp is filled with positive feeling to me. There are adults going to school to learn Arabic. There is hope that the conflict will be resolved by either mediating either fighting. And there are the endless smiles of the children. The last weeks I spent at least an hour every day to walk through the camp. On my way to autopsy interviews or to see the functioning of different parts of the program. Everywhere you go you can hear OK OK. Or Ashis, Ashis. It makes a big smile pop up on my face every day I go to the camp. The administrative issues or the miscommunications within or between agencies are forgotten the moment a little Zaghawa girl comes up to you to hold your hand.

Or talking with the leaders who come up with solutions for the perceived problems in the camp. These endless meetings I have referred to in the past has more to do with not listening on our side or sending unclear messages on our side and there is the tradition of talking a lot by the big fish. Well I must say all sides are talking a lot. Perhaps at time a dialogue is more at place…

The chickens have entered my dream world now. I am being kept updated regularly. The cold is too much and the sandstorms are disturbing them. I have bee requested on arrival also to do something about all the snoring expatriates. The generator they can live with but all the high pitched and low groaning of the team in the field is just too much. They have officially requested for earplugs. As I am new to this business I wonder if anyone can help me out as t what size these darlings of mine require.

I miss my chicken and colleagues.

One day I will be back and well rested.

I am off to eat lobster on the beach



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Anonymous Charity said...

People should read this.

6:23 PM  

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