achatfromchad

blog from chad

In Search of Brigitte Aboudam

Just before we left France an Australian friend of mine (we shared a flat in London back in the 1990s) sent a very exciting and interesting e-mail.  Through a charity called WorldVision she and her husband are sponsoring a little girl in Chad. Maybe we would like to try and find her?

She lives in the Loumia Valley Development Area. Her name is Brigitte Aboudam and her World Vision ID Number is  TCD 173020 -1038. Brigitte is in grade 8. The Loumia Program Manager name is Ndjelaou Ngolyeo. If Carlo is anywhere near this area in his work , we would love him to say a special hello from us in OZ.’

So how could we resist such a lovely challenge?

As luck would have it, Loumia is on the road between N’Djmena and Moundou, about 2 hours south of the capital so on our latest trip down south we persuaded our driver to take us to the WorldVision base in that village.  Thankfully we had a 4 x 4 as it was at the end of a deep sandy trail in the countryside outside the village.  As with all the humanitarian sites we have seen in Chad, it was behind high wire fences with security guards at the main gates.  We talked our way into the centre where we met three delightful WorldVision officials.  ‘Sorry but for security reasons you cannot visit a child unless you organise it ahead of time with the chief of WorldVision Chad.  He is based in Moundou.  This is for your security and for that of the child.’  So that seemed fine as we would find Brigitte on our way back to N’Djamena in 3 week’s time as conveniently we were now heading for Moundou where we would find Simon-Pierre, the new man in charge at WorldVision.

Simon-Pierre with his driver.  He is in red shirt.

Simon-Pierre with his driver. He is in red shirt.

Two weeks later, and after several visits to WorldVision in Moundou, I had still not been successful in tracking down Simon-Pierre.  ‘Il etait en mission’ somewhere in the country!  Eventually he returned and I was invited to come and meet him. In fact I was lucky enough to meet Simon-Pierre Mbaindiguim (now we knew why everyone just referred to him by his christian name!) the Sponsorship Manager plus Edouard Ngoy, the Regional Programme Manager for West Africa.

I put my case to them and was given a foolscap sized form which had to be completed before I could visit a sponsored child.  This form would then have to be processed and then it would take a minimum of two weeks before a visit could be organised.   Again all to do with security issues.   We were running out of time so sadly I realised Brigitte would not be seeing us on this visit to Chad.  However Simon-Pierre was very happy to take my present (some pens etc) that I had brought for her from France.  He looked quite wistful and said ‘I am very sad because sponsor visits are a time of much happiness and celebration and I am sorry for this girl who will miss this’.  ‘I will arrange for her to receive the present so that she can write to thank her sponsors in Australia.’

Secondary school class wearing school uniforms

Secondary school class wearing school uniforms

Their teacher.  Very beautiful woman.

Their teacher. Very beautiful woman.

Since arriving in Chad, while Carlo has been busy working,  I have been trying to visit schools and clinics but it has not been easy.  Could I do some voluntary work?  I sensed this might be my chance. Simon-Pierre jumped at the opportunity and offered to take me around Moundou the next day.  So at 9am pronto we began visits to two schools, one a secondary and the other a primary school, followed by a long visit around a local clinic which used to be sponsored by WorldVision and is now self-funding.  The latter was quite hard on the senses as I saw small children stricken with malaria, many adults suffering from AIDS and all manner of other ailments the most common of which appears to be diarrhoea due to drinking impure water.   On a positive side there was a maternity unit for mothers and babies and that was a cheerful place until one toddler took a look at my white face and burst into tears.  She was still screaming when we left the clinic.  The mothers were all laughing but I felt quite daunted to have appeared so scary to one so young and innocent.

Pathologist in the clinic.  Wonderful microscope.  Note the samples in front of him on the table.

Pathologist in the clinic. Wonderful microscope. Note the samples in front of him on the table.

 

Urine samples in bottles.  Poo samples (locally referred to as 'excrement') samples in mango leaves!!

Urine samples in bottles. Poo samples (locally referred to as ‘excrement’) samples in mango leaves!!

 

Mother with child sick from malaria.

Mother with child sick from malaria.

 

The level of children in education in Chad varies from about 40% in towns, to 20% in rural areas.  Up north in the desert areas, where the people are nomadic, it is much lower than 20%.  I was heartened to hear that WorldVision give more educational sponsorship to girls than boys (60% girls, 40%boys) as traditionally girls get left behind in families as it is deemed they are more valuable at home cooking, looking after children, collecting water and so on.  WorldVision has been operating in Chad for 25 years and sponsors over 40,000 children with Canada leading the way, followed by the USA, Australia, Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan.

Primary school.  Childrens' seats are two layers of bricks concreted together.  No uniforms at this school.

Primary school. Childrens’ seats are two layers of bricks concreted together. No uniforms at this school.

'What happens when it rains?' I asked.  'The children go home' was the answer!!

‘What happens when it rains?’ I asked. ‘The children go home’ was the answer!!

108 children in this class.  38 boys and 64 girls!!  It should be 102 children.

108 children in this class. 38 boys and 64 girls!! It should be 102 children.  Hope it wasn’t done by the maths teacher or else we are dealing with 6 ghosts.

 

A teacher sitting in the cooler doorway of her classroom.

A teacher sitting in the cooler doorway of her classroom.

Simon-Pierre is himself the father of four children and clearly a very family orientated man.  His warmth when among children was evident as he took me from classroom to classroom where he either encouraged the younger ones to sing or the older ones to speak a few words of English.  Talking to him later in the day he said thoughtfully ‘for me I believe to invest in the child is to invest in the man’.

 

School children came out of the classroom wondering who was this white visitor.

School children came out of the classroom wondering who was this white visitor.

 

Children getting somewhat out of control after I showed them photos on the camera.  Simon-Pierre immediately told me to be careful as they would end up breaking the camera.  This was during a mid-morning break.

Children getting somewhat out of control after I showed them photos on the camera. Simon-Pierre immediately told me to be careful as they would end up breaking the camera. This was during a mid-morning break.

 

children running amuck after I took their photos.  Simon-Pierre hurried took us back to the car for safety!

children running amuck after I took their photos. Simon-Pierre took my hand and hurriedly ushered me back to the car for safety!  I wasn’t afraid but perhaps he was concerned about my camera?  There  are 4000 children in this school and we were rapidly being engulfed by them!!

 

Excited children waving goodbye.

Excited children waving goodbye.  The noise level of their screaming was deafening.

 

An e-mail has just arrived from Annie and Tom in Australia.  ‘We had to laugh today as we received a Xmas card from Chad from our World Vision sponsored girl, Brigitte Adoudam. Looks like the post In Chad is snail mail. It was posted in N’DJAMENA where the World Vision Chad Office is.’  The card arrived mid March!  Things do happen in Chad but we have long learnt that patience here is a virtue.

On our next visit to Chad, Brigitte and WorldVision will be on our list of priorities.  By then we hope we will also be able to visit a child who we may have sponsored.

[subscribe2]

(564)

3 Responses to “In Search of Brigitte Aboudam”

  1. Nadia Harrison Says:

    fantastic photos and wonderful report on WorldVision. You really bring a bit of Africa into our homes and make me feel guilty for living in a rich world….
    lots of love,
    Nadia

  2. Rosie Says:

    Yes Nadia, countries such as Chad make us realise what comfortable and safe lives we lead, especially where children are involved. But you know this better than any of us with Tom’s involvement in Africa. It’s a tough and harsh world for most.

  3. Tim Darvall Says:

    Don’t think too badly of the Chad postal system. Our early October postcard from the Lebanon was only received by my mother in Sussex in January. And Royal Mail has just delivered an unimportant bank statement which is over 6 months old!
    I have long supported Action Aid but they sadly dropped individual child sponsorship many years ago in favour of a community-based approach. I must admit that I could identify much more when following the progress of an individual child, with the occasional joy of receiving their drawing or a photo.
    Good luck (and keep safe) in all your travels and keep these blogs coming!