Bahai beach

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bahai Beach 52

Bahai Beach 52

Mimi’s mystery

Sunday 18 March 2007

Reports come fast and thick. First there was a singular sighting by one staff member but then a clear pattern. This was followed by multiple sightings by multiple people. Mimi, our handicapped limping black former cat is more pleased to stay on the Libyan market with the local population then with our decked out compound.
Bless the kitten.

Thos reminds me of the potential threats my chooks (and future kutkuts= chickies) are going to have to face. The more or less hyper intelligent Mimi’s have found out that one can eat birds. Luckily early in life they have been traumatized by all kinds of birds so a learned trait – fear for winged beings – may still be in place.

Well as you can read I have plunged head forward back into the work in Oure Cassoni. There is a plethora of visitors coming bye/ there right now. Again ranging from donors, our new country director, security/health/gender based violence advisors from New York, journalist, the Dutch Ambassador for Cameroon and Chad.

As a health team we have the pleasure of hosting the doctor who has set up the camp. His name is Dr Camillo and when he came in the beginning of 2004 there was not yet a camp. As he showed in a slide presentation there were 8000 people living in the wadi (dry river bed) in the middle of nowhere and 8000 people living under trees as well in the village of Bahai. For those that arrived in Bahai they shared one water well with the 6000 inhabitants of the village and all the animals.

What remained of the animals that is. The first loss concerning their animals they faced was the thefts and butchering of their stock in the attacks by janjaweed. Then during the trek here some animals died. In a third batch they sold their livelihood for very low prices to assure at least some food. And the final hit was the bad quality of the drinking water leading to massive number of deaths of the livestock. There were images of piles of tens of donkeys, goats being burned. And this happened on a daily basis.

In Zaghawa culture money is represented by livestock. Mainly camels, but also donkeys and goats are the way to express wealth and power. Some of my staff have told me they lost all their (200) camels, 300 goats and 50 donkeys. Imagine losing all your income in a span of two/ three months…

Then over the next months, March and April 2004 there was a steep rise in deaths amongst the tree dwellers. As they stated themselves ‘The sky is their shadow’ and ‘When you have nothing you might as well be dead’ It was the time when there tens of deaths per month due to malnutrition, diarrhea, meningitis and respiratory tract infections. Surprisingly those that were dying were mainly in the category 50 years and older.

To assure health care access a central tree was found in both sites and that is where with help of freshly recruited nurses, midwives and community health workers mobile clinics were started.

After the needs became clear finally in April 2004 Oure Cassoni was founded as a ‘temporary camp’. Two more weeks and the third year anniversary will take place. Yet to put things in to perspective the Chad program for refugees is still the baby amongst all IRC refugee programs worldwide. The sad reality is that many refugees are forced to live in squalid conditions for five, ten or even twenty years.

I would like to thank Dr Camilo for sharing the story of the exodus and arrival in Bahai with us. It gives a perspective and a reminder where we come from and where we are despite all constraints. Major strides forward have been made, but also major steps need to be taken. Slowly but steady we are moving forward.


Ashis Brahma

Post Scriptum

Yoda and I were having one of our loquacious conversations about the meaning of life when he poured out one of his ad hoc gems in the context of quality of the work we are doing in Chad: “I cannot accept any mediocrity in the work, but for my own mediocrity”

And in the market I was walking around with my Rasta man cap when a man came up to me and inquired as to why I was wearing a child’s cap and children’s glasses. My response: “ O the girl who sold me the items ensured me they where adults’” Leaving the man bewildered and myself with a smirk from here to N’Djamena.

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Anonymous Marilyn said...

Thank you for sharing the camp's history. It is mind-boggling how many situations we have world-wide where these 'temporary' places become (at least semi-) permanent. NBC Nightly News had an 'exclusive' interview with Al-Bashir last night. I wondered why they chose to air it--just so he could continue to deny any involvement? Infuriating. The link is here:

3:22 PM  
Anonymous VJ said...

I agree with Marylin. I was watching the NBC episode last night and was so frustrated I had to turn it off and watch some new reality show. Hey - whatever clears your mind right?

Also, LOVE your response regarding the rasta hat and child's glasses.

Thank you for keeping us informed and educated!

10:50 PM  
Blogger Ashis said...


humor and fearlessness leads to resilience

thank you for your feed back


7:12 PM  

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