Bahai beach

Friday, June 08, 2007

Bahai Beach 68

Bahai Beach 68

Osman Imam

June 7, 2007

His father was an imam and he himself is well versed in the Koran. While at university he tried to give the Zaghawa language an own alphabet. The Zaghawas have several dialects but no script. They use Arabic fonts or their camel marking system to write. As Zaghawa is a complex language the attempt did not completely succeed but it did result in Osman’s master thesis. And imagine he had only two copies of this thesis. One copy he kept in his house in Omboro and one in the university of El Fasher. The first copy went up into flames when janjaweed burned his house

When I fist met Osman, who works as the general administrator in the health program in Oure Cassoni I was straight away touched by his love for history and his way of working. One of the first tasks I was asked to do is to reduce the staff by about 20 people. Not an easy thing to do but with the help of Osman and Adam we selected the group and after a ceremony thanking them for their 2 years of service the health staff was reduced in number.

Osman has big 70’s styled spectacles, a beard and always is ready to take on any work required in the health center. I have seen him work as administrator, supervisor of cleaners, assistant pharmacist, translator, mediator, help to the finance department, tour guide, register, supervisor of guards, supervisor of constructions, delegate, Where ever there is a gap, because of illness he can double. Whenever I am too tough on the refugee staff he takes of the edge with a joke. He assures that meetings in the health team never take more than 1 hour and that nobody jumps outside of the agenda. It is with him I do all the verbal autopsies (the visits to the parents of the children who have died to examine the possible cause) & visit the families who have lost a relative. It is he who calls you Yasir Arafat when you are too late for breakfast

After fatur (breakfast) lentils with bread mostly we sometime stay behind to discuss work or religion. After all a meal is not complete unless you have drunk a cup of tea. Osman is a Muslim of the Sufi tradition and he has taught me a lot about Zaghawa history, proverbs, culture, beliefs and jokes.

He has nine children and two wives and is the owner of a grinding mill, 2 donkeys and a camera. His youngest son is a fighter. In the first months of his life he broke his leg. Then he developed prolonged periods of vomiting. In the end he was so ill he became malnourished and had to be admitted for a blood transfusion, therapeutic feeding and anti biotic treatment in Bahai Hospital. There the young baby had the bad fortune to have fragile veins. All his veins were tried but no success. Even a needle in his bone marrow did not allow the blood to be given. That night the worst was feared, but starting the following morning he started to drink again, stopped vomiting and slowly recuperated so much he went back to the camp in 10 days. Then after a period in the supplementary feeding center he has now become a nice and chubby toddler. All the time Osman told me he had faith in our treatment. His family was insisting to take the child to the next hospital, a fore hour drive, but he believed in the recovery of his son and that is just what happened.

Osman cares deeply for his community. At night he comes to health center to assure all is well. Making sure that the guard is awake, the nurse and midwife are present and that there are no other problems.

Today I gave him a copy of a Zaghawa – English dictionary. He jumped in the air and gave me a big hug. Let us hope he hooks up with the man, David, who made this possible. Perhaps 20 years later that Osman expected but his dream of a script for his beloved Zaghawa language is possible.



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Blogger suguna said...

hello, decided to catch u here since i keep missing u on skype.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Ashis said...

he hi,

well e-mailing is also possible

7:16 PM  

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